Jack Goldin on Reflection

Tribute to Jack Goldin

I was running the checkout in our 390 West Street Branch and for two days we worked late to prepare for Mr Goldin’s store visit. Just prior to Mr Goldin entering the store one of the cashiers decided to go and pack something on the shelf. At that moment I was busy with a customer and did not see the cashier leave the till. When Mr Goldin walked in we had three customers at the tills and due to the very small front area of the store it makes it look as if it is very busy. He saw this and asked me why there was not a cashier on the end till to take the pressure off the queue. Needless to say I was gobsmacked. The baptism of fire was that he called me “a dummy” and told me “get the cashier situation sorted out at once.” After speaking to me and given the feedback, he could move on and not dwell on the past issues.

When I was assistant manager at our 203 Pinetown branch we had another visit from Mr Goldin, Mrs Kritzinger and Grant Smith our General Manager at the time. I was in the stock room while they were walking the floor. About one and a half hour later my Manager who shall remain nameless came and called me and said that Mr Goldin wanted to see me. The Manager said “I had better have some good answers”. This didn’t make me feel too good. I did not know what the issue was. I was literally frog marched to the Medicinal Section where I met with Mr Goldin, Mrs Kritzinger, Grant Smith and the store Manager. Mr Goldin asked me: “What is this?” pointing to some gift wrapped items on the shelf marked at 99c each. I looked and sure enough there were at least 12 items gift wrapped and the Manger shared with all that this was my idea. This was the first time that we had sold Crepe the Chine condoms, and we were notified via the notification that there should be two facings of this line next to the Disprins (Why next to the Disprins I still do not know to this very day). I then shared with the unhappy group that I thought that as this product was quite “sensitive” and by having it gift wrapped and marked might save some embarrassment for the person wishing to purchase the product. To the best of my knowledge we were at the time the first Retailer to sell these items. Then an amazing thing happened, Mr Goldin put his hand on my shoulder and looked at me in the eye and said “this is what retail is all about; vision and thinking about the needs of the customer.” He got Grant Smith to phone Head Office and have this put in a notification. So for the next few minutes we heard about what the needs of the customers were. He made my day in that I went from zero to hero in a moment. This again shows Mr Goldin’s ability to give other people credit when it is due.

When I had just been promoted to Store Manager we had a meeting after hours in Mr Goldin’s hotel room. We had snacks and drinks. He showed us a video of where Clicks was going as well as the Vision for pharmacy. I can remember thinking afterwards that this was quite a bold plan for anyone to contemplate. Over the years I often think back to that evening as we achieved Mr Goldin’s dream. The one thing for me was that even though at times you got a roasting there was always caring and treated as a person and made to feel part of a family.

On another occasion after my promotion to Regional Manager, on doing his store rounds, Mr Goldin spent about three and a half hours with me, gave me some positive feedback about the store. This was around the time that he was in discussion with Kanebo Cosmetics. During the time spent together, he shared lots of what he was as an individual and what his likes and dislikes were. It made a huge impact on me as he opened up himself. You could have a real one-to-one discussion with him.

That same night we went out for dinner. It was customary when Mr Goldin visited Durban the General Manager, Regional Managers, local Merchandise Buyers and wives went out for dinner. This was my very first experience and had to be on our best behaviour. We were the two new kids on the block. Both my wife and I sat on either side of Mr Goldin so we could get around knowing him better. It started off well and I was at ease as I had spent most of the morning with him and getting very positive feedback. Here came the first blunder. My wife asked Mr Goldin “What are your goals in life”. Wow!!!!!!! I thought my goodness! Where did that come from? He looked at her for a while thought a bit and then said something quite amazing, he said “you know I never want to be the biggest, but I want to be the best at what I and we do.” For me that was quite amazing. So after the banger of a question I really enjoyed the rest of the evening.

It became the norm that Mr Goldin would visit my stores first and then I would go and collect his wife from the hotel and take her out shopping. One afternoon we were having tea together and I asked Mrs Goldin if her husband ever relaxed. She shared that that was one thing that he did not do. She told me that once when they were on a cruise and the boats communications went down for about three days and he could not contact Head Office to get the daily figures. Once he came to terms with it he accepted it and for the next two and a half days she said “he became a totally different person”.

For me Mr Goldin was a very principled, focused and driven individual. He had clear goals and knew how he to get there. He was a man of integrity, vision who cared for the business and his people.

Garvin Pieterse (37 years service)

 

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About Matteo Coné

Matteo joined the Clicks Brand in 1974 as a Trainee Manager and spent the first nine years of his career in operational management roles within stores. In 1983 he was promoted to the role of Buyer and joined the Merchandise Division. During the following twenty seven years, he applied his extensive buying expertise to various categories and assisted the business in growing from a small retailer to the national household name that it is today. Matteo has not only gained the respect of his many colleagues through the years, but also with the many suppliers that he has dealt with.
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