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My Favorite Entrepreneur
Mar 7 2009
Perhaps you, or a loved one, or a friend has had a need to use an electric
shopping cart now being provided as a free public service in most large
retail stores nationwide, or even worldwide. It wasn't always that way as
little as 20 years ago. But thanks to the vision, courage, faith, and
entrepreneurship of one man, millions of mobility-impaired shoppers are able
to enjoy the pleasures of shopping at the now-common mega-size stores and
take advantage of their generally-lower prices and larger selection than is
available in smaller stores.
That one man is Bill Sage, and I had the honor of meeting him while enjoying
breakfast at a local sandwich shop in Rogers, Arkansas over 25 years ago.
With Bill's winning personality and positive attitude, I immediately took a
liking to him, as did everyone. After several weeks of meeting on Saturday
mornings for men's bible study, we parted ways, and it wouldn't be until a
year later that we met again, at another local restaurant.
When I asked what he had been doing, he showed me a small, three-page
brochure of a new invention he was working on in his garage, naming it the
Mart Cart electric shopping cart. I was so impressed with it, the first
words out of my mouth were ?Hey, I'd like to sell those for you! There were
already electric carts on the market, but these were designed for personal
use. This little yellow cart, specifically designed from the ground up for
commercial use, with a huge front basket, swivel seat, built-in charger, and
above all, slow speed, was to become the standard by which all others were
judged, thanks to Bill's firm belief in quality at the best price possible.
But more than that, Bill was to become a blessing to all those involved with
the fledgling business.
The foundation of the business came about because Bill wanted his ailing
grandmother to be able to enjoy shopping once again, and through his
unending faith, perseverance, and designing/manufacturing talents, the Mart
Cart electric shopping cart came into existence, truly the old fashioned
American success story, right down to the first prototypes developed in the
garage of his home. In order to finance this new venture, Bill & his wife
a considerable risk and sold their lake view home.
To mirror my first words when seeing the first brochure mentioned above, I
eventually became a dealer in the four-state area, then came into the
as one of two national salesmen, then eventually the first international
The first seven years were not easy, with some store owners and managers
even laughing at such a product as they passed by our booth at the largest
supermarket show in the U.S., FMI in Chicago, but this did not deter Bill.
His confidence was infectious, imparting in all employees the desire to see
this through. Finally, with all the positive feedback from customers such as
"This electric cart is a Godsend", or "I couldn't shop without it", or "I
now shop every isle without getting tired", and on and on, large store
finally began to see that this really was a needed service and started
ordering in large amounts, sometimes as many as 10 Mart Carts per store.
In addition to building the business into a successful one, Bill was also
very generous to his employees. To one employee who was having a rough time
financially in need of a pick-up truck, Bill gave him one outright; to one
employee whose husband had a deformity in his upper front teeth, Bill paid
the medical charges for having his teeth corrected, giving him a new lease
on life; to my wife & I when we were first dealers, Bill gave us a Mart Cart
at no charge, which we were able to sell to give us a much-needed financial
boost. There were many more instances of Bill's generosity, an important
ingredient in the success of the company, and an important factor in the
success of any great entrepreneur.
Today, the company, Assembled Products Corporation, now employs 150 people,
and has sales of approximately $35 million. In addition, there are
thousands more employed nationwide and world wide in the design,
manufacturing, sales, and service of this and other products which came into
existence at a later time in the history of the company. Also, the
introduction of the first commercially-designed electric shopping cart
encouraged manufactures of personal electric carts to enter the commercial
market, employing even more people.
I am now retired, after having spent 20 years with Bill and the company, and
looking back, I can truly say that Bill Sage is my favorite entrepreneur, as
will, perhaps, many others who have benefited by his products.