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The opinions expressed and observations made in this blog are solely those of myself, Jim Duncan, and do not reflect the views of Unitime Imports, Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol, or Kubota Tractors. 




First of all, for those of you that have encouraged and enjoyed my blogs, I am sorry for the long absence.  There have been many fun and exciting changes going on in my life since my last posting in November.  I will try and catch everyone up here now.

Just after my last post, I received an email from Doug Huffman, the owner of the company that I work for announcing his retirement and the sale of Unitime Imports, Inc. to Jeff Randall and Ron Coleman, Randall-Coleman, Inc.  With that, RC Imports dba, Unitime Imports was born.  This was November 17th.

Over the past six months I have been able to apply the knowledge I gained from working for Doug for over 17 years as I transition into my new role as Sales Manager with Unitime Imports.  In addition to working with the Salesman to improve their routes, it has been fun and exciting to learn the purchasing side of the business,  I now also manage the glove category.  Working with suppliers ordering our regular glove line and looking for seasonal glove promotions.

Part of my role as Sales Manager, along with helping our Salesmen manage their routes, was to restart the route in the Tacoma area.  I am happy to announce that after a long search we found the right candidate for that route.  Her name is Merel Mouland, she comes to Unitime Imports with a strong sales background and is doing a great job starting to rebuild that route.

Just as I thought we were ready to push into summer with a full sales staff, I received word that one of my Salesman was quitting to pursue her dream on doing landscape design consulting.  So, back to searching for a salesman again, and we found Paul Yarkosky, he was referred to us by Merel.  I am excited to start his training tomorrow.  He will be able to use his route management experiences and build his route to meet it's potential.

So, now you know why I have been too busy to write blogs on my website.  Oh, there was one more thing that got in the way, it was called winter.  I had a great ski season.  I started skiing the Saturday after Thanksgiving in November and skied my last day of the season the first weekend of May at Silver Mountain.

In the coming months I will keep try and keep you posted on all of the exciting changes that are planned for Unitime Imports.  I am having a great time helping Unitime Imports become a leader in its field.

I hope this finds everybody doing well.  I will try and post again soon.

Take care,





Reflections and Memories


Last week was my birthday...which for the past 22 years I have celebrated without my parents.  It seems that I spend a lot of time reflecting on the time I did get to spend with my parents.  In the not enough years that I had them around, I am fortunate to have many great memories.

Another thing happened last week.  Dave Niehaus, of the Seattle Mariners, who was one of the greatest baseball broadcasters of all time passed away. 

Going to, and listening to baseball games in the summer was one of the things that my father and I loved to do together.  This was the day of AM radios in the car, and only three channels on TV and the Game of the Week on NBC, and the Playoffs were the only games broadcasted.

During the summer we went to the Spokane Indian games, at that time they were a AAA Farm Club for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The radio broadcaster was Herb Hunter.  And they had a live organ player named Norm Toey.  We watched future baseball Hall-of-Fame players as they were starting their baseball careers.  Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Bill Bukner (Yes the Bill Bukner, that lost the Red Sox World Series bid when the ball went between his legs), Davey Lopes, Steve Yeager and many others. 

If we weren't at the game we would listen to Herb broadcast the game on the radio.  You could listen to his descriptions of the game and field and in your mind you were there watching the game.  A colorful description, a fact about the player, news about what was going on around the league or a story from days gone by would fill the time in-between each pitch.  This was a time when commercials were in-between the innings not during the inning as it is today.

There is an elite group of broadcasters that I can also remember listening to, in the evening, on a transister radio, while I was growing up. Their descriptions, their reflections and their passion were the things that I remember the most about listening to the games they called.

Many of the broadcasters that are in that group are no longer alive....Jack Buck (St. Louis Cardnals), Ernie Harwell (Detroit Tigers), Mel Allen (New York Yankees), Harry Caray (Chicago Cubs) and Dave Niehaus (Seattle Mariners).  I am sure that you can go to "you tube" and find an excerpt of their classic work.

Do yourself a favor, and next spring when the boys of summer return, find an internet feed or an XM radio and listen to a game by either Vin Scully (Los Angeles Dodgers) or Bob Uecker (Milwaukee Brewers).  The commercialism that is the sign of the times will be there, but so will the true passion these two men show for the game that they have been a part of their lives for so many years.

These memories of time with my father are some of the happiest times I spent with him.


"Where were you" moments

Over the past 24 hours, the world has watched as 33 miners have been rescued from a mine in Chile, where they had been trapped for over two months.  It is one of those moments where an event makes a permanent memory of what you were doing, as one by one, the men came to the surface to be greeted by loved ones.

I am in my early 50's, and started thinking about the "Where were you" things in my life that fit into that category. How many of these do you remember?  Are there any others that you can share?

Here is my list:

John Glenn orbited the earth, February of 1962

John F. Kennedy Assassination, November of 1963

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, February 1964

Martin Luther King, Jr. Assassination, April of 1968

The First Man on the Moon, July 1969

End of the Vietnam War, 1974

World Expo '74 in Spokane

Mt. St. Helens, May 1980

Challenger Disaster, January 1986

Oklahoma City Bombing, April 1995

O.J. Simpson Verdict, October 1995

World Trade Center, September 2001

Columbia Shuttle Disaster, February 2003

Katrina, August 2005

I am sure that all of us have had these moments.  Looking at the list, it seems that most of the ones that I remember are disastrous for those involved.  The last 24 hours were not that at all.  It was full of emotions for everyone in the world as these men were reborn by the teamwork and dedication of the rescuers that worked tirelessly to come up with at plan that was implemented flawlessly to pull the 33 men out of the earth, from 2,040 feet underground.

I hope this is not just another one of the few good "Where you moments" but the latest of more to come.




Fall is here.......winter is on its way


It was the fall of 1979, Jimmy Carter was still President, and I was a wide-eyed 20-year-old, trying to join the Ski Patrol on Mt. Spokane.  Well...that winter I went through the training, worked my hours at the ski swap, and became a member. This weekend, still as a member of the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol, I participated in both our first aid, and on-the-hill refreshers, for the 32nd time. 

I am not same the wide-eyed 20-year-old anymore, and I'm not the only thing to have changed. When I first started, we were using the American Red Cross Advanced First Aid as our standard; this year we are looking forward to the 5th Edition of the National Ski Patrols' Outdoor Emergency Care book.  32 years ago, we had long, thin skis; now we move about on equipment that has gotten shorter and wider. Instead of relaying radio calls, or searching blind, we are using GPS to help locate lost skiers, and cell phones to communicate on the back of the mountain during searches. 

So, on to the next ritual of fall...The Annual Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap will be held on Halloween weekend this year. The same all-volunteer group of individuals who patrol the hill, also put on the Ski Swap, to raise operational funds for the patrol.  In fact, the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol's sole financial support is from the proceeds generated by the annual Ski Swap. I am always amazed, how a group of people from so many different backgrounds, dedicate so much time and energy to a volunteer organization, to help keep the skiing-public safe.

I am glad to still be a part of the Ski Patrol.  In my wildest dreams 32 years ago would I have imagined still being a part of the patrol.  I hope to see you at Swap, and invite you to enjoy the winter with me, on Mt. Spokane.




Customer Service - Is it a lost art?


Many of you that follow me on Facebook have read the short version of my dog food adventure.  Here is the longer version.

We have two large dogs, Cody, a German Shepherd, and Bigelow, a lab...both of them love to eat.  We buy the large bags of Science Diet Large Breed dog food--they go through almost two bags a month--and we always purchase them at Big R on Trent. 

This works out well. I have been shopping at the store since they opened sometime back in the late '70's.  I have always had great customer service and response to my requests, then they started running out of the dog food...on a regular basis. More often out of stock than in.

I asked the department manager if any dog food was on order. She looked and found there were only a couple of bags on order for the Trent Big R (close to my home), however, the other store (not close to my home) had 30 on order.  I told her that they needed to order more; she said she would look into it.  The next time I went in, they were out. 

About two weeks later, I went back and they were still out. I asked the store manager, and he was indifferent to my request...merely stating he would look in to it.  At this point, I was not sure whether it was going to get resolved or not, but had little reason to doubt it.

This happened over and over. About a month ago I caught up with the manager, and he told me that it would get resolved for sure.

Then last Sunday, in need of dog food again, I went back into the store and much to my dismay, found an empty spot in the dog food space.  I found the Assistant Manager, his response was also indifferent.

Monday I called their offices in Great Falls and was directed to the owner of the company, Wayne Wike.  I left him a voice mail, thinking that I would not hear from him, and to my pleasant surprise, I did.  He was absolutely responsive to the reoccurring problem in one of his stores.  Since then I have had several calls from the store keeping me current with the dog food situation, telling me that they boosted the amount they order each week and assuring me they are making every effort not to run out anymore.

This is a great example of an owner being responsive to a customer. I think what is lost these days on some salespersons, is that the customer is actually the one signing their paychecks.  Many employees don't understand that their paychecks are dependent on the success of the business, the customers being satisfied, and returning to make more purchases.

I see indifference every day in my business as I cold call new accounts--and even in some of my existing accounts--clerks that don't care what impression they are making with the people who sign their paychecks. Customers are creatures of habit, they like to go to the same familiar places as long as they are happy with the experience.  If unhappy with the experience, many people will not say anything to store personnel, they just leave and go somewhere else. They will say plenty about a negative experience to their coworkers, family, and friends, however.

I can remember back in the my early days in the grocery business, as a box boy with Rosauer's. Mert Rosauer, the owner of the company, was in the store all of the time.  One day he told me that I was the most important part of the customer service experience, because I was the last impression that the customer had that day, of coming to the store.  If the eggs were broken, or the bread flattened as they were loaded into the car for the trip home, it could turn a great experience to a poor one real fast.  Even today I try to live by this rule...the last contact is often the only one remembered, make it a great one.

Customer Service does not have to be a lost art, Mr. Wike from Big R seems to take it you?