Dear Arnie: Thank you! Love, Beckala
As I sit on a plane back from Detroit after attending Gateway’17, I am feeling grateful for my old man. The Goldman Sach’s 10KSB program gave Shop4ties the opportunity to spend two days exhibiting at Gateway ‘17 (the first conference put on by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma), where we exhibited to 3,000 people from all around the world. Everyone was there for a different purpose — whether it be to learn how to take their business to China, meet with their international counterparts, learn the secret sauce to an e-commerce business, or just to meet and network with like-minded entrepreneurs.
I was there to make my old man proud and I got to do just that.
After leaving the conference, the phrase Dear Arnie, thank you, was a reoccurring theme that wouldn’t go away. When I called Arnie in late 2010 about coming home and seeing if there was a possibility to leave teaching to try out the business world, he took a chance on me. He didn’t hesitate, he welcomed me with open arms and said that we would figure it out and that we did. Was it coincidence or fate that I started working with Arnie just a few months before he fought his first cancer battle? Whatever it was, it was incredible to spend his last couple years at his side: whether it be at his favorite restaurant Night n Gales, working alongside him in his Florida office, or sitting next to his hospital bed talking about his most favorite thing, tie and scarf “ordahs.”
While meeting the humble and warm Jack Ma was a once in a lifetime experience, my favorite part was how many times I was given the chance to answer the question, “How long has Shop4ties been around?” With a big smile on my face, I proudly said, “We are celebrating 35 years this year. My dad started this company in 1982 and we are still going strong today.” I talked about Arnie more over the last two days than I have in probably the past three years. There was a nice man from New York who had lost his mother to cancer right around the same time Arnie passed and we shared stories of our parents, how they impacted our lives, and how much we still miss them. Arnie’s story was told time after time at this conference and everyone had a big grin on their face while listening. I laughed and smiled, yet got emotional at times. I missed him and was really hoping he could see me now and know I am keeping his legacy alive.
When I tell people that my company has been around for 35 years, they try to figure out how I fit into the equation since I was only one when Arnie started Corporate Textiles (now Shop4ties). Arnie was the true definition of an entrepreneur and pioneered the idea of exporting a product from Asia in the early 80s, while most people are now just realizing there is an ever-expanding market. He had a genius idea and ran with it. I don’t think I ever gave him enough credit while he was alive. He made everything look easy to his friends and family, he lived the lifestyle he always desired to live with my mom, and they loved life and each other deeply!
I never completely understood how much sweat and time went into getting to where he was at the end of his life and why he didn’t want to grow and expand — after all, there was so much room for us to grow in our markets. In October of 2013, a few months before passing, we were at lunch one afternoon with my brother David. I will never forget that Arnie told me he had to constantly evolve and change over the years in business and it was now going to be my turn to further change, grow, and take it to the next level. Everything I do for Shop4ties now is to hold to that promise I made to him a few months before he passed. I want to make my old man proud.
I feel immense gratitude that he took a chance on me and allowed me into his Shop4ties’s world that he worked so hard to create and grow. I don’t think I realized the tremendous opportunity that I was given back in 2011. I wish I could sit down and have a heart to heart with him, like he often did with me, and thank him for so many of the opportunities I have been given over the past six years. Arnie took a chance on me and I promise to keep his legacy alive, at least hopefully for the next 35 years. Dear Arnie: Thank you!