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Two Interesting Customers

C. Aubrey Hearn


After Aubrey Hearn retired from the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1966, he very soon passed a test certifying him to sell church bonds for a living. Over the years he worked for several companies, Security Church Finance of Houston, Texas, being the most noteworthy. These companies held campaigns in churches that were raising money for building programs. The agents who went into these churches would encourage the church's members to purchase bonds. There were also employees who were independent salesmen, who took any bonds left over from the campaigns and sold them to interested buyers. Aubrey was one of these independent salesmen, and he received a commission on every bond sold.

During the early days of his bond sales, Aubrey traveled three days a week, calling on prospective customers and sharing information about available church bonds. He enjoyed meeting them in their homes and offices, and it wasn't long before he developed a base of loyal customers. Eventually, he had a four-state area in which he was licensed to sell bonds, and after a few years he became the leading salesman in his company. For a number of years Aubrey sold over a million dollars worth of bonds each year.

One service that Aubrey provided his customers was that he wrote wills for them. He always asked a new customer if he had a will. If he did not and was willing, Aubrey drew up a will for him at no charge. The customers appreciated his willingness to write a will for them, and they showed their appreciation by purchasing more bonds.

Eventually Aubrey sold most of his bonds by telephone. He had a list of customers, and he kept track of when a customer's bond was going to mature. It was a simple matter to let the customer know that he had another bond that the customer could purchase with the money from the matured bond. Aubrey never used pressure tactics in his sales. He thought he was offering his customers a service. When customers were sick he sent cards or flowers. He was interested in them as people, and many became his good friends.

The following stories are part of a taped interview of Aubrey that three grandchildren--Andy and Dan Clark and Karen Heard--held in April of 1982. Aubrey tells them in his own words.

I have had some very interesting experiences. For example, I hadn't been selling bonds too long before I sold a man $50,000 worth of bonds and he asked me to my great amazement if I would mind if he paid for them in cash. Well, I was very surprised at that, but I went along to this man's office, and knowing he would pay me in cash, I took another man with me to be a bodyguard.

When we got to the office the man opened the drawers of his desk and every one was stacked high with hundred dollar bills. So this man paid me $50,000 in hundred dollar bills, and where he got this money I have no idea, but he paid me $50,000 and I took the bonds to the office, and they were very glad to get that money.

Now another experience I had just about two years ago: I had a customer over in east Tennessee. This man had a franchise to have coin machines all over the county and he made pretty good money. And so he started buying bonds from me. He usually would buy 15 or 25,000 at one time. And one time he called me up and he said, "Mr. Hearn, I'm about to buy some silver coins." This was in the time when silver was very much in demand, and you paid high prices for it. So he said, "There's a man out in the country here that has a country store, and he's been saving coins for many years, and he has them in a couple of barrels buried in the ground. He's offered to sell these coins to me. I'm going to buy them and take the money and buy bonds from you."

I said "Well, I'm certainly delighted." So he and his wife went out to the country, and this old man and his wife dug up the coins from the barrels and had to dip out the coins, but they were dirty coins. There was mud on them, and dust and dirt, so they poured all those coins in some tubs, and they took them to the town where my customer lived. They had to count them, you see. And so when they counted these coins the old man--they pulled all the shades down--the old man sat at the door with a shotgun in his hand. He was afraid somebody was going to come in and try to steal those coins. And so then the old man's wife and my customer and his wife, they had to clean the coins, because they were so dirty you couldn't sell coins like that, you know. You had to wash them and dry them and count them. It took them all night long.

So during the night this man called me once or twice and told me the progress they were making counting these coins. He said, "We're going to finish tonight, and we're going to drive to Nashville tomorrow, but we don't know how to get to the coin shop that we're selling them to. We just don't know the roads in Nashville and the streets and all.

I said, "I know exactly where the coin shop is, and I know how to get there. When you get to the edge of town you stop and call me. I'll get in my car and I'll go out there and I'll pilot you to this coin shop. Sure enough, I was ready the next morning, and I waited and waited and waited, and finally he called.

He said, "I'm sorry we're running a little late. We stayed up all night and we were kind of tired, and we slept a little while this morning. We're here now." He had a big van, and he had all those coins in sacks, you see, you know, these cotton sacks you get at the bank. They were pretty heavy, you know. So I piloted them down to the First American Center downtown, and there is an entrance that trucks use, and I drove up to that entrance and the coin man had sent a policeman down there to guard the coins while they were being transmitted from the van to the coin shop.

So they had a big old truck, and they put the coins in the truck and rolled them down to the elevator, rolled them in the elevator up to the floor where the coin shops were, then rolled them into the coin shop.

Well, they had to be counted again, because the coin shop operator had to be sure that their count was right, see. But this time they had a machine count the coins. So they put all the half dollars in one machine, all the quarters in another, all the dimes in another, all the silver dollars in another, and they counted them, and when they got through there was about $36 or $37,000 that they received for those coins. So the man got a check for the coins, and we went across to the bank, and he added enough to that check to make it $40,000 and gave me a check for $40,000 for the bonds. So that was it. I enjoyed that very much.

Later on we invited this man and his wife to come to see us, and they drove all the way from east Tennessee every year to our house and they had lunch with us and spent a while and drove back, and we enjoyed that very much. They're still living there in a town in east Tennessee--they have the best house in town--I've been to their house. It's a very fine house, and they're very fine people.