About Tony Walker Today

Graduate of Canisius High School '71 and Boston College '75. Proprietor of the Advantage Co.

Joe Kreuz: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

The story of Joe Kreuz started in 1959, but the tale of our remarkable friendship began 25 years ago when we launched Advantage Professionals.  I could write pages about our friendship, but, simply put, when I look up best friend in the dictionary, I see a picture of Joe.

And as much as I enjoy [and count on] on our friendship, this post is about our remarkable partnership.  Over the past twenty-five years, Joe has epitomized and brought to life the Root Philosophy of the Advantage Co more than anyone I have ever built with.

The enduring legacy of our partnership is not the remarkable success of Advantage Professionals, but, more so, the unbelievable tree of success that Joe provided the foundation and enthusiasm for.  Joe was the man who stepped to the plate for everyone we have ever built with.  Mark Pautler, Charlie Chiampou, John Baiocco, Jerry Hawk, Jerry Tenenbaum, Kelly Cultrara, and Tom Thomson all know first hand what it is like to launch a business with Joe Kreuz by their side.  But that’s just a short list of the hundreds of friends Joe has helped.  WNY’s executive suites are filled with people that Joe has nurtured and placed over the years.

So, this is a big thank you from all of us.  Congratulations, Joe, on 25 years as the man who laid the foundation for all of our most successful partnerships.  You are a legend.

The End is Near

There is an interesting article in Fortune this month about the coming recession.  Usually, everyone is blind-sided by a recession, but there are enough talking heads foretelling its arrival that only the most stubborn of investors will be caught with their pants down.

Unfortunately, most businesses will be caught [and ruined].  Businesses are currently caught up in a tsunami of capital investment spurred on by cheap money and unsustainable demand – and they can’t jump off.  Grow or die has been the mantra for the past seven years, and it is hard to accept that it will soon be replaced by slow down and save, but if you are NOT cash strong, liquid, and ready to pounce when the recession does hit – you will be splintered on the rocks as you crash into shore.

Every moron has made money in real estate and the stock market for the past seven years.  This leads to a hubris that fuels every recession.  Con artists think they are brilliant [especially the real estate con artists], and they have seven years of spectacular growth as their witness to their [supposed] magic.  But when the storm hits, and the values drop, and the rents slow to a trickle – the mortgages and taxes still have to be paid.  It’s a slow death, as opposed to a stock market crash that is swift and merciless.

Be prepared.

My Favorite Things 008

My Favorite Color: Navy Blue 

Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 7.31.04 PM

Ever since I was a little kid at Canisius Day Camp, I was captivated by the Blue and Gold.  The Canisius school colors stood for everything Canisius meant to me.  The blue and gold still fill me with pride for my school.  Even to this day, I prefer teams in the blue and gold [with Notre Dame being the obvious exception – especially since they took down my UConn Huskies in the Women’s NCAA Basketball Championships].  And when Michigan would roll on to the field in their Maize and Gold [led by Bo Schembechler], I felt like a Wolverine.

I never wore my Boston College maroon and gold because it never felt right.  Navy blue has always been my favorite color, and maroon just didn’t work.  Anyone who has worked with me in design over the past forty years knows that Pantone 289 is the starter color of choice in all that we do [but I have made an exception now and again for Carolina Blue – and Dean Smith gets the credit for that].

In high school, we use to wear a tie to school every day.  Frank taught me how to tie a half-Windsor knot, and I remember teaching Anthony the same way.  Just as I came to prefer the blue and gold, I still feel the same way about a half-Windsor knot.  I just don’t like the sight of a bloated full Windsor.  Over my high school years, I inevitably gravitated to navy blue and yellow ties.  I always had one I liked more than others, and when it would wear out, I would head to Campus Corner to replace it.  Seldom could I find the exact same one, but it was always a combination of yellow with blue and white stripes.

Recently, I found my favorite tie online at Amazon.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GUZLNVI/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
It’s a Mr. Zhang tie, and you won’t believe how much it cost until you hit the link.

I started wearing a suit and tie to work again a few months ago.  At Capax Discovery, we pride ourselves as being the adults in the technology room with our enterprise archiving solutions, and being in a sports shirt, especially since I am generally Skyping from Naples, just didn’t seem appropriate.  Hence the coat and tie [which I have come to enjoy wearing].  It makes me feel more engaged, and it lets whomever I am meeting with know that I am not down here waiting to get in a round of golf – I am here to build, and I am hard at work doing just that.

Some of the staff at Capax Discovery HQ at the Walker Center have followed suit.  The women at Capax Discovery [more often than not] are dressed more professionally than the men, but I think some of the guys are finally closing the gap.  From what I can see in business today, this is generally the case.  Certainly, at the Walker Center, the women running things are usually better dressed [professionally] than the men.

But what amazed me most when I started wearing a suit and tie again was how many ties were available on Amazon, how little they cost, and how easy it was to order a nice 100% cotton spread collar white dress shirt.  An Isaac Mizrahi Men’s Slim Fit Long Sleeve Solid 100% Cotton Dress Shirt is only $19.99, and it’s a great shirt.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01G2LPL5O/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

What Amazon has done to retail is truly remarkable.  But, what is often lost, is the fact that Amazon has driven everyone to up their game.  Retailers, as a whole, must get better at what they deliver or they will simply become a distant memory.  At Tony Walker & Co, we have changed dramatically over the past several years.  The environment we have created [and continue to innovate with] is remarkable.  Simply having the newest fashionable product in the store for our customers is now just a small portion of the Tony Walker experience.  From the Giancarlo’s Cafe’ to our Needles & Threads tailoring, to iWorldFundraising.org events, we have expanded what ‘shopping’ at the Walker Center is all about.

I’ll be back up north in a couple of weeks, and I can’t wait to see what’s new at the Walker Center for the Summer of 2018.  I’ll see you at Giancarlo’s.


The [Amazon Under $10] Tie Collection

 

My Upcoming Summer Vacation 2018

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From:  Venice, Italy
To: 
Advantage Co Staff

Hello from Venice, Italy

I am taking a break today from looking at a tired old bankrupt ruin of a city [that only Airbnb seems to be growing in] to work on my agenda for this summer in Williamsville, NY.  Nevertheless, and in spite of its decay, Venice has been enjoyable, and I’m certain that if I had been here between 800 AD and 1800 AD, I would have marveled at what was undoubtedly the most vibrant global trading center in the world.  

Everywhere you turn there are two poignant reminders: First, Venice was unquestionably the very best at international trade for a remarkably long period of time, and, second, nothing is forever.  Maybe they can make Venice into a hologram or great virtual experience before it sinks? That surely would save a lot of time, travel, aggravation, and money while thankfully eliminating exposure to all of the various colds, coughing, and criminals.  Witnessing the remnants of past glories definitely puts the Stereo Advantage’s brief 20-year run [1978-1998] as the top retail spot in WNY into proper perspective. Antiquity tends to do that to you [and that’s why China and the Mideast both scoff at Europe’s brief ascendancy for a mere 600 years and America’s current 70-year reign].  It’s all but a mere blip on the screen [and so are we].  So it goes.

But, on to tomorrow.  The good news is that tomorrow belongs to us and certainly not Venice – as it inexorably sinks into the Adriatic as a musty old museum.  Of course, our only right to tomorrow comes from what we build today – as tomorrow is promised to no one. That said, below is what I would like to work on building over the summer during my three months at the Walker Center.

Before I begin, let me briefly recap who we are.  Gnothi Seauton [Know Thyself] is inscribed in gold letters over the portico of the temple at Delphi.  Its authorship has been ascribed to both Pythagoras and Socrates. It is prudently at the beginning of every journey.

We are, at our core, business developers.  Today, the Advantage is an eclectic mix of successful business ventures that range from fashion retail to premium brand development to enterprise archiving solutions to restaurateur to product service to staffing to accounting to zero-fee fundraising to e-commerce to just about anything you can imagine building.

My personal mission is to provide the vision, resources, and confidence necessary to enable the ongoing development of the Advantage Co as a rewarding business experience for those willing to take the full measure of the challenge.  By joining the Advantage Co as an employee or partner, I recognize that you are looking to maximize your capabilities in the most productive and beneficial environment possible.  Therefore, I am hopeful that this is the right environment for you, as well as a challenge you will embrace and enjoy.

In order to bring our ideas and concepts to life and to continue their ever-changing and dynamic growth, it is my job to help build and support a flexible matrix for each business that enables, encourages, and ensures evolving paradigm shifts through the simple restructuring of elements providing maximum speed to benefit and cross-platform recognition.  

At the Advantage, we learn from the past, live in the present, and build for the future.  The past provides us with wonderful memories, experiences, resources, and data – but, most importantly, the past is a building block for the future.  The present is here to both challenge us and provide enjoyment [and neither meeting the challenge nor enjoying the moment should ever be delayed until tomorrow], while the future provides us with the promise of what can be.  Fortunately, the future of the Advantage provides us more promise than ever before. We can not, however, fulfill the promise of the future without your help. It is our shared responsibility as leaders to create an environment where people are motivated to give a thoughtful, enthusiastic, and effective effort toward our desired results [while making certain that our desired results are recognizable, achievable, and beneficial to all participants].

Be big, be a builder.


My Summer Vacation List of Things to Do

I will be back around Memorial Day [weather permitting] and I will be around until Labor Day.  I am looking forward to a great summer.  Here’s a short list of what I will be working on and what I would like to accomplish while I am in Williamsville:  

  1. Walker Center Renovation
    The nicest compliment I received last summer was when someone asked me if the Walker Center was brand new.  Even though we opened the doors 24 years ago, we still keep on renovating – and it will be forever new if we relentlessly improve it every day.

    • New TW&Co Warehouse [and Offices?]
      The TW&Co Men’s department will be reorganized and TW&Co Women’s Fashion Footwear will go down into the main TW&Co Women’s department.  This will make room for an expanded warehouse and possibly the TW&Co administration, buying, and design offices.
    • New AGR Office
      Frankly, there are a couple of options.  By moving TW&Co and design downstairs into part of the new space in the TW&Co Men’s shop [that is currently being earmarked for warehousing], we can move all of Advantage Global Resources into their vacated space.  Or, we can move Advantage Global Resources into the TW&Co upstairs warehouse at the top of the south stairs. This was the original AP office, and it is a great spot with an opening into the front staircase.
    • Expand the Capax Discovery Office
      Once Advantage Global Resources moves into their new offices, Capax Discovery can take over the entire front office space.
    • Renovate 5109 Main St. [The Sugar Shack]
      Although this property has been disregarded since we purchased it, it is, nonetheless, a valuable location.  We will either turn it into two guest suites, two apartments, or two offices. I will decide once I look it over in person this June.
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  2. iWorldFundraising.org
    Never have we had such a well-accepted and laudable program.  It is time to give this the love and effort it deserves. With Children’s Hospital and several major brands like Roberto Coin on board, 2019 should be a year of breakout success internationally.
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  3. Win the Alta Lawsuit
    For a company that really hasn’t litigated anything since our Prodigy lawsuit in 2000 [which, as plaintiff, we won decisively], we now find ourselves as plaintiffs again in a necessary lawsuit.  It is strange being engaged like this without Frank, but Dave Pfalzgraf and Ben Burge are doing a great job.

    Simply put, we are trying to get Alta to pay up on the liabilities they failed to reveal to us when Capax Discovery bought Zovy from them in the Fall of 2016.  It’s a couple of million dollars, so it is significant enough to litigate.  I expect this to go to trial in Q4, so Dave and Ben will be kept busy.  We are in good hands, and I am confident we will prevail.
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  4. Corporate Reorganization 
    This summer, Rob Cavallari [our new Senior Vice-President of Financial Operations] and I will complete the reorganization of all our corporate entities.  Basically, we want all of the companies that we operate to be LLC’s owned by shareholders that are C-corporations.  That is the most flexible and tax advantageous setup.  Additionally, multiple LLC’s whose shares are owned by the same members [with identical amounts of shares] can be combined into one tax filing – and that would save a ton of work.

    This corporate restructuring will benefit from three changes that we are working on:

    • Advantage Global Resources
      By combining all of our backend resources, especially accounting, tax, and HR, we will able to streamline our administrative protocol and reporting. 
    • Quickbooks Conversion
      By combining all of our accounting in 2019 onto one platform, we will eliminate much of the possible confusion and duplication of effort.
    • Advantage Global Resources PEO
      By having all of our employees in one organization by 2019, we will be able to better onboard and enable everyone we employee around the world.
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  5. Advantage Global Resources PEO [Professional Employer Organization]
    If a company already has employees but wants someone else to take care of the headaches of payroll, the hassles of workers’ comp insurance, the difficulties of large group health plans, the perennial fear of increased unemployment tax rates or even just remove the fear of an employee lawsuit by getting professional HR assistance, they would consider entering into an agreement with a PEO.  Frankly, in a disjointed way, this is what Advantage Global Resources already does for all of our partnerships.

    A PEO [Professional Employer Organization] is a firm that provides a service under which an employer can outsource employee management tasks, such as employee benefits, payroll and workers’ compensation, recruiting, risk/safety management, and training and development.  The PEO does this by hiring a client company’s employees, thus becoming their employer of record for tax purposes and insurance purposes.  This practice is known as co-employment.  The PEO and the client are considered employers of record, but the duties and responsibilities of each or both are defined in the contract between the client and the PEO, called the Client Service Agreement [or CSA].  

    And this is what our AGR PEO will be doing for all our Advantage Co businesses and partnerships in 2019.
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  6. Tuesday Morning Breakfast Seminars
    Starting on Tuesday, June 5th, we will begin our Tuesday morning seminar and breakfast series.  This will become an uninterrupted weekly event [other than this Christmas and New Year’s which both fall on a Tuesday].  It will all be coordinated, prepared, managed, and vlogged by Shauna.

    The series will begin each Tuesday morning with an introduction by Shauna at 8:00AM.  The presentation will go from 8:05 AM to 8:20 AM, followed by a 15-minute question, answer, and discussion period until 8:35 AM.  Presenters will need to be there no later than 7:45AM.

    The initial price of admission will be $8 for an Advantage business or partnership employee and $20 for an invited guest.  Eventually, we would like to sell series memberships, etc. The series will include a presentation and a complimentary breakfast.  The complimentary buffet breakfast will be provided by Giancarlo’s Cafe’, while $3/$7.50 per person will go to Shauna and the remaining $5/$12.50 person will go to the presenter.  I am hopeful that, in time, better presentations [and presenters] will draw bigger crowds. I am confident we can start out with at least 40 participants the first few weeks. At the very least, $8 for coffee and breakfast with your friends once a week is a good deal.

    We will also have the presentations online for $5 per login for an Advantage business or partnership employee and $20 for invited non-employees.  $3/$12 will go to Shauna and the remaining $2/$8 per login will go to the presenter.  Once again, I am hopeful that, in time, better presentations [and presenters] will draw bigger crowds online as well.

    I am certain some of the details will change once I discuss this at length with Shauna.  Live-streaming and webinars will have to be discussed.  Also, prices may vary if we have an outside presenter.  In some cases, we may actually charge them to present.
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  7. The Magic Gift Card
    While there is an almost endless list of things I want to jumpstart this summer, nothing brings our customers back to us like the Magic Gift Card [or Reservations, or Gift Giving Registry, or custom blended coffee, or the Premcloud, or …].  To say the Magic Gift Card Program is misunderstood and underutilized would be quite the understatement.  Nevertheless, it invariably gains in value as we continue to grow our services, offerings, and products.

    Remember, we want to accomplish two things with our customers at every juncture:

    • We want them recommending us enthusiastically.
    • We want them to come back repeatedly.

I am certain I will update this posting from time to time over the next few weeks, but, for now, this is how my summer is shaping up.  In the meantime, when I get back to Naples [Florida], I will be working on our Unified Global Archiving presentation, our Capax Discovery website, and theAdvantage.com website [which needs to be moved to and hosted by iWorldShoppingCenter.com].

The Root Keeps Growing

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-9-18-25-amhttps://tonywalkerpost.com/root-philosophy/

Originally Posted: January 1, 2017
Updated: April 15, 2018

From the very beginning in 1978, it has been my goal to provide the vision, resources, and confidence necessary for the development of the Advantage Co as a business experience for those willing to take the full measure of the challenge.  This approach has energized our Root Philosophy for nearly 40 years, and it has been our good fortune to build a number of world-class businesses.

Here is a short list of businesses we have started or helped to start over the years.  135 and counting.  The businesses in bold are currently operational.  The businesses in italics are partnerships.  Each one has been visited by success and failure.  One of these nights I’ll start filling in the stories.  

All told, we estimate there have been over 8,000 participants in the building of these opportunities.  If you have a backstory for any of them, why not share it with us?  I’ll take the good with the bad [they all have their share].  It is never meant to be easy, but it is always meant to be enjoyable.

A man who says he never had a chance is the man who never took one.  Be big, be a builder.

Advantage Co Businesses

  1. Advantage Brands
  2. Advantage Catalog
  3. Advantage Computer Co.
  4. Advantage Global Resources
  5. Advantage Home Theater
  6. Advantage Outlet
  7. Advantage Properties
  8. Advantage TI
  9. Advantage Trade Group
  10. Aussie T Co
  11. Bedtime Monster Spray
  12. Bogavia
  13. Brinkley Builders
  14. Chuggs
  15. Computer Head Start
  16. Giancarlo’s Sicilian Steakhouse
  17. Giancarlo’s Cafe & Patisserie
  18. Gift Giving Registry
  19. Grivani
  20. Grivani Wine Cellar
  21. Grivani Wine [Distributing]
  22. House of Cotton
  23. Forrestel Clothing Co
  24. iFul
  25. iSport
  26. iWorldFundraising.org
  27. Lab to Beauty
  28. Leave It To Alison**
  29. Lifetime Service
  30. Love Pink & Green
  31. Luxuri Link
  32. Merwin & Payne
  33. Modern Luxuri
  34. MyWarehouse.org
  35. Nantucket Clothing
  36. Naples Properties
  37. Osaka Speakers
  38. PALM Investments
  39. Piece Apparel
  40. Pioneer Home Theater
  41. Pure + Fresh
  42. Scotch Boots of Holland
  43. Smart Car Store
  44. Smart House Cafe**
  45. Smart Squad Design
  46. Smart Squad Install
  47. SmartLinks
  48. Sneaker Advantage
  49. SONY Home Theater
  50. Stereo Advantage [Olean]
  51. JVC Home Theater
  52. Taplin Marketing
  53. Tiny Walker
  54. Touche’
  55. TW Outlet [Niagara Falls]**
  56. TW&Co
  57. Walker Center
  58. Walker Kids Trust
  59. Walker Global Parts
  60. Walker Global Solutions
  61. Wehrle Properties
  62. White Box Services

Advantage Co Partnerships

  1. ABX Professionals
  2. Advantage Business Exchange
  3. Advantage Marketing & Incentives
  4. Advantage Systems Professionals [now iWorld Professionals]
  5. Advantage Woodshop
  6. American Wireless
  7. AP Charlotte
  8. AP Cincinnati
  9. AP Cleveland
  10. AP Denver
  11. APHQ [now Advantage Global Resources]
  12. AP Metro**
  13. AP Phoenix
  14. AP Rochester
  15. AP Solutions [now Capax Global]
  16. AP Syracuse
  17. AP Tampa
  18. AP Washington DC
  19. At Your Service
  20. Aussie Outfitters
  21. Autonomic Resources**
  22. Bellus Development
  23. BizHop [support only]
  24. Butler Chemical
  25. Cascade Point**
  26. c1 Advantage
  27. c1 Secure
  28. Carolina Clothing Co
  29. Capax Alpha [now Capax Global]
  30. Capax Discovery
  31. Capax Global
  32. Capax India
  33. Capax Resource Management
  34. Chiampou Travis & Kershner*
  35. Christeus
  36. Cleary & Sullivan
  37. Cleary Travel
  38. Consilium1 [now c1 Advantage]
  39. Cross Pointe**
  40. Delta Road Properties
  41. Duke Fund**
  42. Free Trade Consultants
  43. Gauntlet Design
  44. Greenview Landscaping*
  45. Hudson Walker
  46. Images & Graphics
  47. Inspired Global Resources
  48. Irwin Lazarus
  49. iWorld Professionals
  50. JALMAR Graphics
  51. JNorman & Co
  52. LD World Resources
  53. Manzella Productions [support only]
  54. My Personal Advisor
  55. Outback Paging [AdTel Worldwide]
  56. Phroket
  57. Pizza Shoppe
  58. Real Properties Services
  59. Sceven
  60. SmartLink [Bailey & Kensington]
  61. SmartLink [Main Place Mall]
  62. Sozae
  63. Stereo Advantage [Phoenix]
  64. Stereo Shops [3 Rochester stores]**
  65. Strategic Finance
  66. Taplin Design
  67. Tony Walker Golf Club [4 locations nationally]
  68. Total Health & Fitness
  69. Trend Depot
  70. TW Charter Stores [92 Aussie Outfitter stores nationally]
  71. Wellingtin Resources
  72. White & Co
  73. Wynnovation Labs

Coming Soon

  1. Advacovery
  2. 2 Girls 1 Deal
  3. Advantage Legal & Fiduciary
  4. ApothoClean
  5. Balance Bra
  6. Cento Boutique Hotel
  7. Christian Coop
  8. Church of the Good
  9. College Rep Program
  10. Fashion Resource Group
  11. FedDrop
  12. FedSecure Data Centers
  13. FedCloud Vault
  14. GoToCloud Express
  15. Greenskeeper Coop
  16. Grivani Golf
  17. iTech Protect
  18. iWorld Auto
  19. iWorld Banking
  20. iWolrd Accounting
  21. Life Source Insurance
  22. OffShore Secure
  23. Scrubs
  24. TW&Co Charter Stores
  25. Walker Global Mergers Acquisitions & Review
  26. Walker Sports Audit

* No longer involved in this partnership.
**Ended successfully.

There are three worlds: the one we are given, the one we are stuck with, and the one we bend to our will.

Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Man in the Arena speech.  ‘It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause and who, if he fails, at least fails while bearing greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.’