A Chronology of My Business Cards

By Don Lafferty | Life

There are plenty of stories behind each of these business cards, none of which I’m prepared go into in great detail today.

Airmen in the US Air Force were not given business cards in 1980, nor were kitchen workers at Frankford Hospital in 1977, cooks at Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips in 1976, or custodial assistants at Saint Anselm School where I started working at the age of 11 in 1971.

I was discharged from the Air Force on December 12th of 1983 and went to work at Trinkle Sales on the first working day of 1984 and it was there I received my first business card. Which was pretty cool for the 23-year old me.


January 1984 – June 1985

TWO weeks out of the Air Force, I went to work for Jim Macchione as an inside sales trainee at TSI, but within months I’d been promoted to outside sales covering distribution for all of Trinkle’s lines in the southern half of their territory.

My new boss, VP of Distributor Sales, Al Rysz, asked me to move from Maple Shade, New Jersey to Columbia, Maryland so I would be halfway between Washington and Baltimore. This at a time when the location of the rep was an indication of their geographic distributor loyalty. But they didn’t pay me enough to live in Columbia so I lived in Ellicott City, which I loved. TSI had always been viewed as a Philly company because their disty rep, Larry Heller, lived in Bucks County, PA.

By giving me the quick promotion, they were replacing Larry at half the cost and dropping me halfway between enemy camps. A perfect solution for Al and Trink and a huge raise for me. Within ten months of separating from the military, I was making five times as much money and driving a new car. Everybody was happy – until none of us were. Until the grass became greener. It was the 80s after all, and the grass was growing high and green in every direction.

I could write [which sometimes means “may write”] a book on the insanity of my 18 months at TSI (I was 23 when I started in January of 1984 and worked there until June of 1985, so, yeah, the middle of the 80s.), but, just like my military service was an epic springboard to success in civilian life, Bob Trinkle’s mentorship and training set me on a path of excellence and success during my entire career in the sales game. 


October 1985 – April 1987

Dennis Greenberg, my mentor at TSI, became an owner of Shap Electronics and brought me over there just as TSI and I were becoming disenchanted with each other.


October 1986 – June 1987

When Carol and I married I decided I was getting out of the electronics business to form my own company selling art to corporations for investment purposes.


June 1987 – August 1988

When my first child, Donny, was born in May of 1987 I realized the electronics business was a better path to the money I needed to make so I took an inside sales position with PEI-Genesis working for Rich Geisel, who I’d impressed during my time with TSI.


August 1988 – June 1989

Bill Hartmaier was forming his own rep form and looking for a hungry outside salesman. I was looking to jump from inside to outside sales. It was while working for Hartmaier that I was introduced to the printed circuit board business.

Some classic salesman’s notes scrawled on the back of my Hartmaier card. Note the electronics manufacturing companies from back in the 80s. Racal in Herndon, ISC Tech and Cardinal Technologies and ECS in Lancaster, PA, and Gibraltar in Reading, PA. All shuttered by 2000.


June 1989 – May 1992

When my second child, Shannon was born in 1989 I needed more money so I left Hartmaier to start my own rep company and brought South Bay Circuits along with me. I named the company after my ex-wife Carol, using her initials, CAL in the name CAL Tech. It lasted four years until I went to work for S.K. Macdonald in 1992.


May 1990 – May 1992

I was a Philly-area sub-rep for Dave Calkwell who had also worked at TSI before I joined in 1983. Bob Trinkle fired him for being in a punk rock band so Dave had also formed his own company and thought we might join forces when we met in 1990.

Dave’s website is an actual peek back into the 90s.

It was during this time that I met Eric Lehman who introduced me to Perry D’Angelo and his father Jack, the newly minted owners of Philadelphia’s oldest manufacturer’s rep firm, S.K. Macdonald.


May 1992 – October 2000

Another kid, another job. When Devon was born in 1992, you guessed it, I needed more, but more importantly, steadier income, so I took a sales management position with S.K. Macdonald to help Perry with the industrial side of their business.


When Perry finally tired of people reading the company name, “S.K. MACOONALO, on the neon-colored company business card from the early 90s, he had it redesigned to eliminate the need to explain over and over that the “O”s people were seeing were actually “D”s.


October 2000 – October 2003

While at S.K. Macdonald I brought in Multek as a principal in 1995 through an IBM connection I’d made during CAL Tech’s run.

In 2000 when Multek was acquired by Flextronics, they moved to eliminate the independent rep sales model and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

And by then we had Kayla, so yeah. More money.

The back of my original Multek card had listings for all of our factories. By the time I became the Director of Business Development for North America in 2004, they’d shut the factories in Roseville, MN, Sweden, and the original shop in Irvine, CA. I accepted my job offer at the Austin, TX factory in September of 2000 and it was closed before my card was printed in October.


October 2003 – February 2009

I got a promotion.


May 2006 – January 2012

Through my writing life, I became part of the Social Tsunami Project in 2006, my accidental introduction to “Online Social Networking”, This project set me on the path to becoming an early adopter of social media as a marketing channel.

Jerry Waxler coined the name and Keith Strunk designed these business cards. From 2006 to 2008 I left them in train stations, cafes, museums, restaurants and hotel lobbies all over Europe, South China, and the US to drive traffic to our 2006 vintage website.


October 2007 – January 2012

When I needed a writer’s business card I modeled this one after Guy Kawasaki’s. It was a big hit. I used this card exclusively between 2009 and 2012 to represent my fledgling freelance digital marketing startup.


January 2012 – Present

When Mike and Ron and I founded Mingl, I’d gotten so much positive feedback from the big name on the card I’d been using as a freelancer that we used the same concept in our first company business cards.

Doug from Sway Creative redesigned the Mingl logo and business card in 2014 and broke out Comfort Media Group as a separate brand to serve the digital marketing needs of HVAC contractors.


January 2014 – Present

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About the Author

I'm a father, a son, a grandfather, a brother, an ex-husband and a friend to many. I am born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia where I still live, work and play. My cup runneth over.