As a child my dad would take me on his bread route. Wally Christenson was the regional sales manager for the Tastey Bread company, and delivered bread and bakery items to grocery stores large and small throughout Wisconsin. I sat in a bread box as he he drove and visited his customers. Everybody loved my father. He spread joy wherever he went.

We also had one of the first colored television sets in Eau Claire, Wis. It was a huge – by any standard – RCA Victor and it was well over 20 years old when it was retired. The best part was that it was free. My father won it in a sales contest selling fruitcake. Wally sold a lot of fruitcake. Now in the Northeast fruitcake is mostly used as a doorstop, but in the Midwest it was a delicacy to relished. Fruitcake was, and is, a Christmas item, but Wally sold fruitcake in February.

He would ask for a meeting with the store manager and review the volume and profitability numbers for the previous Christmas season. He would review the sales strategy, point of purchase displays as well as share any special support Tastee would offer and there was always a success story about a competitive grocer. He would take out his order form, ask for an increase and then when the contest began he would submit all of his orders. The other bakeries could not get an order because Wally had it all sewed up.

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