Celebrating 25 Years March 2024

It’s hard to believe, this anniversary for The Buying Network is the 25th.   Not a lot of companies get to celebrate this milestone.   Approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years. Only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more.   Looks like my crazy idea to leave a good paid stable job worked out. 

In early 1999 I took my idea that I carried around like old baggage for years and told Brady Coleman about it during a business lunch.  He was the Drew Marine sales engineer.   Prior to Drew Marine Brady was the purchasing manager for Ocean Trawl.  That experience lined up with my experience from Arctic Alaska Fisheries that was purchased by Tyson foods six months prior to the start of TBN. 

We started in March 1999 our spare rooms and kitchen tables working at night to outfit a crab catcher / processor that was sold by Tyson to the Russians.  We both had full time jobs and the new business kept us working until midnight to 2am each day.  The goal was work until you fell asleep at your desk and don’t forget to set an alarm.  Upon that first successful ship supply, we left our full-time jobs and we leased unit #3 in the business park.   

Sometime in late 1999 I convinced Brady that we should take Drew’s offer to be a distributor for them.   He wanted to leave that behind.  This distributorship would give us access to all the largest factory trawler companies, so we didn’t have to rely only on the smaller ships we meant to support.  We then could add on different brands and it would give us a more stable income.  The secrete sauce worked and we gained an oil absorbent line very quickly. 


Above picture is Brady coming out of the small warehouse in January 2000.

In the beginning, we found business in unlikely places.  We received a contract to get three bids on many thousands of items for the unlucky, “Lucky Buck” processing barge, that was partially sunk by a local freighter.  The insurance company gave them an amount and the ownership had no idea if it was correct.  After our cost of the pricing contract, the insurance company had to fork over a lot more than the first offer.   This customer stuck with us through all the different vessels they owned and managed until they retired not too long ago.    

Some crazy business fell into place as the years went along.  A couple of them that were outside the norm;  We were asked to be the purchasing department for a Portland Maine at sea freezer ship.  Seattle can't be much further away.  It was the largest capacity as see freezer in the US.   It had an automated factory and had capacity to freezer around 500 tons of fish a day with only a handful of operators.   It was later determined that the fishing fleet couldn’t catch enough to keep it working at capacity and closed down.  It was our first time getting screwed by a customer not paying.  Ramon noodles became the norm for some time. 


Another one that jumps out to me, is the hovercraft customer.  The plan was to run people and supplies from a remote port in Alaska to villages that did not have traditional deep-water ports.  We acted as their purchasing department and shipped supplies to them.   It didn’t last too long as the cost to run a large hovercraft is really expensive and didn't operate 8 foot + seas.   


Not all business was short lived like the previously mentioned.  We were awarded a chemical contract from the State of Alaska ferry fleet in 2000.  We continue to get extensions and new awards 25 years later.    

I won’t continue on a 25-year recap of everything we did.  The main reason for this email is to thank all that helped in this journey.  

I am humbled by the help along the way from suppliers extending credit, to the employees that stuck with us for many years, to the newer team members to help carry the legacy and to those customers that have given us the opportunity to win their business.