It's Who You Know

The person - Paul Russell Grandfather of Paul Sullivan, co-founder of Paul Bryan Inc.

The year – 1962

The Place – New York City Midtown…some swanky restaurant (Paul Russell loved the word “swanky”

     Paul Russell takes a big client out for a nice dinner and drinks in order to get a big-time department store to carry the Russell Hosiery Mill socks. It’s a big fish on the line and a big payday if he can close the deal. All stops are being pulled out for this one.

     A limo picks up the buyer & Vice President at their residents and delivers them to midtown Manhattan. J. Paul Russell stands outside on a snowy night smoking a cigar in a suit, overcoat and fedora while he waits for their arrival. The limo arrives and is greeted by Russell, who shakes their hands, says his greetings and hands them a cigar. He tells them that’s dessert because they are going to be celebrating after dinner and they’ve struck a deal to carry the best socks in the world. The potential clients laugh it off and rebut “we’ll see, no promises.”

     They grab a couple of scotch’s prior to heading to the table and after some more small talk ensues, Russell begins pitching, but they aren’t budging. They want a better price on his socks in order to hit the retail price they want. As Russell begins explaining why the price is right, a man walking by bumps into the table. He stops and says “sorry about that fellas” as he picks up the napkin that fell on the floor. The man looks up and realizes he knows Paul Russell. “Paul Russell!!!! How the hell are you buddy?” Paul Russell replies with “Andy Griffith, what are you doing here? Would you like to join us?” Andy Griffith agreed and sat down and began helping Paul Russell pitch his products, talking about how great the socks were, and it was the best sock brand out there, etc.

     Andy Griffith is helping Paul Russell sell socks by telling “Hollywood” stories and the customers are eating it up. Glued onto every word he says. After about 20 minutes, the waiter comes to take their order and about halfway through, there is a huge commotion at the bar. The whole table, including the waiter, stops to see if they can figure out what’s going on. They realize the commotion is coming towards the table. It’s a bunch of people taking pictures of someone. As the commotion moves to the table, the restaurant owner steps in to clear a path. As the crowd clears like smoke, a man is standing there.  Like a scene out of a movie, Paul Russell and this mystery figure are looking directly at each other. Then the man says “holy sh*t!!!! Paul Russell” to which he replies, “Mickey Mantle!!!”.  The two men exchange a handshake and hug and Paul offers Mickey to join him, potential customers & Andy Griffith for dinner.  After all, there were just about to order.  Mickey agrees and starts telling NY Yankees stories about the previous historic 1961 season. After eating, telling stories and many drinks, the customers start asking how Andy Griffith and Mickey Mantle know Paul Russell. Paul & Andy met in North Carolina at a charity function & Mickey and Paul had a mutual business acquaintance in New York. That led into both men pushing hard about how the only socks they wear are Paul Russell’s men’s dress socks, and some more drinks. Then how the competition can’t compare. More drinks. Rinse and repeat. Paul Russell sat back and watched a Hollywood icon and baseball legend push his products for him as he prepped the cigars. As dinner and drinks ended, the group walked out front. They said their goodbyes as Andy and Mickey left. Paul then reminded the buyer and Vice President about the cigars and said, “so, what do you think about the price, are we ok?”  The two men lite their cigars and said “Yes. You’ll have a purchase order sent over immediately.”

     One week later, Paul Russell walked into work. He asked his secretary if a purchase order had come in from New York.  She said “yes, it arrived yesterday.” Paul then went into his office and called up the Vice President of the department store and said “thanks for the order, everything looks perfect. We will get this into production and ship it out ASAP. You had me worried I wasn’t going to get the order, so I am really glad I set up the accidental drop in with Mickey and Andy.” Yes, the whole thing was a set up. Paul Russell did know Andy Griffith and Mickey Mantle, but he knew he had a tough sell in front of him and he also knew the potential clients were huge fans of both celebs, so he brought in the big guns.