Paul Shriber, Former President of London Fog, on Hard Work and Thinking Outside the Box
Life’s challenges can either make or break us. Paul Shriber, former president of London Fog, turned numerous challenges into opportunities and wins through hard work, attention to detail, and creative thinking.
Written off by a fourth-grade teacher who told him he wouldn’t amount to much in life, Paul had to decide early in life if he’d accept the labels other people handed him. Instead, he dug in and worked harder.
That work ethic and perseverance earned Paul first chair as a clarinetist in the high school band his senior year. “My band director recognized the effort I was putting in.”
I felt a sense of satisfaction because I made a difference for my customers.
Those early experiences set the stage for Paul to work himself up from an entry-level sales position in a department store to become president of London Fog. Early in his career, he showed the determination and creative thinking that were foundational to his success. In his first sales job in a sporting goods department, Paul hustled to learn sales by studying his colleagues and reading a book by Frank Betcher. “By the end of the summer, I had sold more golf clubs and accessories than anyone in the department.”
When he moved on to the Emporium department store, he was funneled into a training program and then given the overlooked fabric department. He quickly figured out how to drive more profit by selling bulk fabric by the yard. That insight turned fabric into one of the store’s most profitable departments.
Paul moved from the buy side to the sell side of the business when he joined Pacific Trail, selling jackets wholesale to retailers. He discovered his predecessor hadn’t always kept customers’ best interests in mind. Paul’s sales took an initial hit when he encouraged retailers to buy less, but his approach paid off in the long term in terms of bookings and the long-standing trust he established with his clients. “I felt a sense of satisfaction because I made a difference for my customers.”
As large retailers started to push out mom-and-pop shops, Paul wisely looked for a new opportunity and found a regional manager position within Pacific Trail. When he ultimately became national sales manager, he realized the need for a new approach to get in front of decision makers. So, he bypassed buyers and started calling directly on presidents of department stores with tailored proposals calculated to help the retailers win. The tactic worked and helped Pacific Trail grow business.
In the mid 1990s, London Fog merged with Pacific Trail. After a newly appointed president was ousted, London Fog asked Paul to take over. Paul smartly repositioned the brand to make it more relevant to younger customers. His advertising campaign proved successful – a perfect note on which Paul ended his impressive career.
Some of Paul’s other keys to success:
- Focusing on the customer. The consummate salesperson, Paul gained trust – and drove more business – by figuring out how to help his customers succeed.
- Evolving with the market. Paul kept his finger on the pulse of his industry and knew when it was necessary to pivot.
- Recognizing everyone’s value. Paul treated everyone with respect, regardless of their job title.