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Thread: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

  1. #1
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    Default So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    A lot of folks think the "DR" in DRCOLLIE stands for doctor, but it doesn't - they're just my first and middle name initials (hey, maybe I'm a doctor of furniture?)

    Since I own this forum, and have over 2,000 posts to it, moderate it and some of you will purchase from my store, I'll give you a little history and background of who I am and how I got here.

    I was born in 1954 in San Antonio, Texas on an Air Force base hospital. Mom and Dad moved to Whiteman AFB in MO when I was 2 years old, where my father was Squadron Commander of the 407th Bomb Wing flying nuclear-equipped B-47's. Today that base is where the B-2 Stealth Bombers call home. In '63 he retired and joined the FAA, which took us to several places including St. Louis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City and ultimately Washington DC where he became Chief of Airline Safety Standards (those of you that are in the airline industry my father wrote most of FAR's Part 121 and 135).

    I went to High School at Kirkwood High, Missouri and graduated there in 1972. My passions were motorcycles and cars, which my wife will tell you continue to this day and likely always will. I worked at motorcycle shops all through my teen years and college, and raced Husqvarna's on the motocross circuit.

    Graduated from Florida State University in 1977 with a degree in Political Science and somehow found myself in the Grocery Business where I worked in the Florida Division of Grand Union Supermarkets as a store manager and later in the buying office at division HQ. Gallo Winery hired me away from Grand Union and I worked in Florida as Key Account Rep from Miami to Vero Beach, but that job was a real meatgrinder where you worked far too hard but got a heck of an education in marketing and sales. On the weekends, my wife and I were always out racing or playing on the ocean on our Supercat catamaran off the South Florida Coast.

    My Father retired from the FAA and opened an airline consulting business which specialized in doing assessment of various airline operations for a fee, prior to FAA Safety Audits. Turned out he was in high demand for his services (who better to hire than the guy who wrote the rules?) and needed help, so I agreed to move to Washington DC with my new bride and get into that business.

    We needed an office, and bought a small office condo in the same space I still am located in. Since we only needed a couple hundred square feet for the airline biz, we walled off the back and let Mom have the front of the store for her dream - a reproduction furnishings store she named 'The Keeping Room'. Thing is, while Mom had a great eye for style and product, she was not a very good business person and had no concept of margins and operating costs, or the hundred other details that running a business requires. I brought those skills to the table to make the little store profitable.

    I hated the airline business. We spent most all our time on the road at various airlines an after six months of checking over flight attendant training records for eight hours a day I KNEW that was not for me. Meanwhile Mom's little shop started getting more and more customers and as my background was in retail, sales and merchandising, I fit right in. So we expanded the store (three times!) and that's how I got into the furniture business.

    A hallmark of our store has always been to sell quality goods, and moreso in the specialty and handcrafted end of things. Since 1981 we've seen a lot of trends and survived the bad times by going lean (still lean!) and we have never had a business loan or line of credit. We have never even financed a store truck...running conservatively means being able to survive in difficult times and we are still standing when most the Washington area retail furniture stores collapsed in 2007.

    Its been a simple formula:

    * Sell at a stable, fair price. Never play a shell game with the pricing.

    * Don't lie to your customers or expect them to buy something that we wouldn't have in our own home.

    * Don't go into debt. Don't expand on wishful thinking.

    * Demand suppliers/vendors hold to a standard and take care of issues, and if they don't, find another.

    * Learn to do things yourself. (diesel mechanics, long-haul trucking, furniture repair, accounting, desktop publishing, computer repair, etc).

    * Sell American made products as much as possible.

    * Treat customers the way we like to be treated when we're a customer somewhere else.

    * Pay all bills on time and never make excuses to your suppliers/vendors why you can't. They have a family to support, too.

    I've been married to the same wonderful woman for 26 years now (she works for Fairfax County Public Schools), have a fashion-plate daughter that goes to James Madison University and a gentle giant of a teenage son who towers above me at 6' 4". I'm in the store six days a week, but you won't catch me there on Sundays. When I can, I steal a few hours from chores on some Sundays and love to go with my pals on the motorcycles and ride out to the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains for the day. Some people get high, and some people drink for a good time. For me, nothing beats the wind in the face of a spirited motorcycle ride on a curvy, hilly road. And if I'm not on my bike, you'll find me in my Porsche convertible - my other passion.

    I'm a Stage IV Carcinoid Cancer Survivor. Four and a half years ago I was told to make out my will and prepare to die - and sitting in that office hearing that is something I'd hope no one has to go though. I never give up at things, and fired that surgeon who told me there as no hope - he quit on me before we even got started. That was a rough time, but I was back in the store the day after being released from Johns Hopkins Cancer Center after having a liver and bowel resection. Mom and Dad had made a mess of the computers during my week in the hospital! Though I could not lift any furniture for 10 weeks, I went down for a few hours every day until I got my strength back. Today I am cancer free thanks to the magic hands of Dr. Micheal Choti at JH in Baltimore, one of the best cutters on the planet. I volunteer to help a lot of people across the country with their Carcinoid Cancers today that are scared and confused with their diagnosis and find it very rewarding to do so.

    I started this forum to help educate folks on how to buy furniture and what to look for, and its been very active and successful (though I wish more people 'in the trade' would help me answer questions). Its been my observation over the years that the furniture industry does a poor job of educating the retail consumer, and most people are pretty smart. If you give them honest and correct information and knowledge of what to look for, they'll figure out the right product to buy.

    That's about it!

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    Last edited by drcollie; 11-10-2012 at 03:06 PM.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Thanks for sharing Duane, what a wonderful feeling to have a passion for life! So what kind of bike are you running the "Ridge " on? I had the opportunity to ride part of it a few years ago. Made it as far as Asheville.
    Paul
    81 BMW R100RT

  3. #3
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks! My ride is a 06 R1200GS BMW, and last year we rode from one end to the other on Skyline / Blue Ridge Parkway, from Front Royal down to Deal's Gap. It was a LOT of curves (never thought I would ever be thankful for a straight interstate run, but after that - I was).
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Thats a tall bike isnt it? They seem to be the bike of choice the past few years with the BMW crowd. My old steed hit 155,000, almost as much as on me. I try and hit a rally or two each summer.
    Paul

  5. #5
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Yes it is, made taller even than stock because I put OHLINS on it front and rear, it such a great bike though. Takes a month or so to adapt to that tall seat height (I have a 30" inseam and the seat height on mine is about 34"), and its just a matter of adapting riding style. Only a problem when its off-road and trying to do a turn around on a single track trail...then its difficult. I have no problem keeping up with my pals on the Ducatis when they want to do curves, go for long straight runs with my buds that have Harleys (it will cruise faster than any HD), and go off-road with my KTM Adventure friends, long as we don't do too much mud or single track. I've only got 16K miles on mine, mainly its finding the time to get out.

    Do you know Phil Marx? He's got quite a few BMWs of your vintage and is very active in BMWMOA. 155K is impressive....only on a BMW....
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    they are a great bike I'm sure. I'm just more of an old school type..alot of it is due to financial reasons and the new computer age of machines. A friend of mine has an 06 RT and he is getting raked over the coals when it come to service charges. Sadly the closest dealer is 40 miles away and they dont work on anything old. Fortunately i have become a pretty good wrench over the years. Had this one apart from head to toe.

    I dont know Phil Marx but he is not alone when it comes to guys with an affection for the older airheads. I think they were very close to the 10K mark in attendance when I went to the national in Tenn. It's getting too big, just my opinion.
    Theirs a nice small rally in Thurmont, Md (Square Route rally) every June if you ever get the chance to take a ride.
    Ride safe when you get a chance.
    Paul

  7. #7
    Jake Guest

    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Greetings Duane -

    Just been poking around the net this evening and ran across this forum. As a fellow BMW rider, FSU alum, Air Force type, Grand Union employee (it's all true) AND furniture shopper, I feel at ease already! I'll be spending some time getting up to speed on furnishings for our new (old) lakehouse, and appreciate your efforts here. Now, get that GS over to the Cherohala Skyway for a real nice ride! J.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Jake, you sound like my identical twin brother and we were separated at birth!

    Ahhh...yes, the Cherohala Skyway, what a great road...big speeds, big sweepers. I like to come up from Telleco Plains for about 10 miles, then cut through the Forest on some fire roads back towards Pigeon Forge when we make that trip, needless to say only the Adventure class bikes make that 30 mile trip through the forest, we let the road touring guys go ALL THE WAY AROUND....lol. What kind of BMW are you riding? Which Grand Union division did you work out of? Damn....that's just flat out wild....
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  9. #9
    Jake Guest

    Cool Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Sorry to post and dash Duane, working on the lakehouse has been consuming this summer!

    I had an 02 RT which I pointed around the country when I found time for a few years, but a move back to SoFla had me searching for something that flowed more air. I enjoy my little Triumph, but miss getting out of town that the Boxer allowed. So, I can see a GS, another RT, or that shiny new Duc in my future. If you haven't been to Utah, sweeper heaven.

    My Grand Union tour really was my first job at 16 (1978), courtesy of the Deerfield Beach store. The name has changed, but the building still stands. I quickly moved on to scraping barnacles for summer cash, but remember the old store and it's people fondly.

    Would you believe me if I said my Father In Law also wrote a number of regs during his time in the FAA? He loved his work with them, and the comaraderie, rest his soul.

    Keep up the great work here, I know it's a bunch of effort and time consuming and about as much fun at times as herding cats, but you do work that oozes pride, and that's as high a calling as it gets. Hopefully my wife will see a sofa from your store she can't live without, and I'll come shake your hand next time I'm visiting sis in Silver Spring. Hey - there's a ride idea...

  10. #10
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    Default Re: So who is this DRCOLLIE guy?

    Jake,

    Thats hilarious! I was at the Deerfield Grand Union (wasn't it Store # 752 ?) all the time while you were there. I was assigned to the Boca store # 710 out on US 441. Do you remember a program about the time you worked there called Grand Cash Bingo? I ran that program and brought many boxes of materials to the Deerfield Beach Store in '78-'79 .

    Small world indeed! When I lived in FL , I owned a Kawasaki GPZ but eventually sold it because the roads were all straight, flat and too boring. Bought a racing catamaran from the sale of the bike and did lots of sailing off Delray Beach with my girlfriend who must have liked it because she married me and is still with me 26 years later.

    I really need to point the bike out West and ride Utah/Colorado/Wyoming and simply MUST run the GS down the Pacific Coast Highway. The only thing that slows me down is 1) Time and 2) Crossing the Plains States (zzzzzzzz). I'm waiting for someone out West to order about twenty pieces of furniture, then I can take it out there in a big rental truck, stick my bike in the back, deliver the furniture and then ride for a week while I'm out there and come back home on the BMW. <G>
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

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