The following events were reported in "They Move Fast. They Run Hard.," Think, July 1972, pp. 32-34.


The data processing supplies business in 1972 includes a range of products such as general purpose and customized punched cards, business forms, magnetic tape and cards, embossed credit cards, computer disk packs and computer ribbons. Pericles G. (Perry) Perikles, who works out of Roanoke, Va., is one of IBM's 200 marketing representatives in the United States who specialize in DP supplies.

Luther Twist, the director of computer services for the Norfolk & Western Railway, is one of Perikles's customers. He says: "We were getting about $30,000 worth of [punched] cards a year from Perry, but most of the cards we used came from another company. That contract, the one with the other company, was put out for bids. In the past, IBM's price was too high and I didn't think things would be any different this time."

Shaving costs

Luther Twist, director of computing services for the N&W, recalls an all-or-nothing gamble that Perikles took -- and won.

Luther Twist, director of computing services for the N&W, recalls an all-or-nothing gamble that Perikles took -- and won.
Luther Twist, director of computing services for the N&W, recalls an all-or-nothing gamble that Perikles took -- and won.

Perikles smiles. He considers the dilemma he faces. He can play it safe, content with the $30,000 order he already has. Or he can enter into the bidding, making that order a part of the overall package. There isn't a choice for Perikles. He wants the whole deal.

To win the contract, Perikles has to show how IBM can service N&W distribution centers at Cleveland, St. Louis and Roanoke, and, in turn, how the railroad can service its multitude of rail yards most efficiently from these centers. Wherever possible, he suggests that N&W employ its own cars, to eliminate shipping charges. Where motor freight is employed, he has to determine average shipment weights and quantities to yards so that IBM can use the information for pricing. By pinpointing customer shipments more precisely than had been done before, Perikles is able to consolidate shipments and offer a competitive price.

Result: The N&W wins. And IBM wins the business.

Says Perikles: "Contrary to what some people think, the supplies marketplace is one of the most exciting an IBM salesman can be in. You don't have to wait several years to see the results of your efforts. If you really like selling and helping people solve their business problems, [this is] the place to be."