I stopped at Poquito De Mexico late last week for my weekly transfusion of beef enchiladas and a half gallon of Carlos’ homemade salsa. I guess I am just too predictable because nowadays, upon entering the restaurant through the back door, Carlos just looks at me and asks, “Three or four?” (Meaning how many enchiladas today Anderson?) Anyway, I noticed Terri and Marty Seikel, who have been in Yukon since the Truman administration, were sitting in the booth having lunch right in front of me. Terri asked me how things were going and before we knew it, we were talking about the history of Yukon, Terri and Marty’s daughters Kelly and Jill and of course the legend Jim Seikel.
I thought a lot about old Jim and the many days of seeing him coming through the front door at the Yukon Review to bring us his weekly Financial Matters column. I always liked talking with him and remember a specific day he stopped in to see me to give me some big news.
Jim would always just walk right into my office and sit down. It didn’t really matter who I was on the phone with or who else was sitting in my office at the time. He just came into the office, walked back to the kitchen, fixed himself a big cup of coffee then plunked down in one of my big comfortable office chairs and started rattling! And you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That was just Jim Seikel. Even though he was born the same year my Grandma was born, he was a friend and we had so much in common. He was a great salesman and what I liked most about him was his grocery store background. I too had started working in grocery stores more than 40 years ago.
Jim started Seikel’s Red Bud in 1954. His grocery store was right on the corner of 5th Street and Maple. (the building that houses the Yukon Review). I guess Jim just felt like that old building was still his and if he wanted to come in the front door and walk around, he could! And we let him!
He told me how many people from that neighborhood came into his store every week. He knew them all by their first name. That’s what made him such a good salesman.
Anyway, back to Jim’s big story. He had just sat down in my office with his coffee and told me he had something big he wanted to tell me. I really felt honored when he told me that I was the only person he had told. I guess he hadn’t even told his wife Bernadette because on this day he looked very serious. He told me he was on his way to the Oklahoma panhandle (up by Guymon, he said).
He told me he had hit the jackpot with one of the annuities he had just sold. He told me “the old lady in the Panhandle wanted him to come pick up the check because she only trusted him to handle the deal.” Jim told me this $975,000 deal was the biggest sale he had ever made in his life.
I remember asking him, “What the hell are you still doing here, sitting here in my office on your dead ass? Get in that Buick and get to the panhandle!”
Jim just laughed at me. He wanted to share his accomplishment with someone that would understand the Euphoria. The win. The art of the deal.
I shook hands with him and hugged him on that day. I told him I would make sure Yukon ran smoothly in his absence! He was so excited and those of you who knew him know that he had quite the “lead foot” when it came to driving a car. I’m sure he got to Guymon in fewer than three hours.
I love the Seikel family. I always loved Jim’s granddaughter Jill who worked with me at the newspaper and his granddaughter Kelly. (who I believe is one of Yukon’s all-time best athletes)
This week marks another year since Jim passed away. He died January 21, 2012. On that day Yukon lost its best salesman. Anyone want to challenge me on that statement?
So many times, I have used Jim’s example of going to get the sale…ever since I saw him race out the front door on his way to Guymon. He just knew how to get things done. Jim always came to see me at the newspaper. He always drank my coffee and he always had stories I have kept in my mind and in my heart.
I miss my old friend and even though I am not blood related, if someone ever asks me where I get my sales ability I am sure he would be proud to hear me say, “I get it from an old Yukon, Oklahoma grocery man named Jim Seikel!”
Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?