If you can’t see the fashion, then it ain’t worth it

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Many today in our network of client, vendor, association and supplier partners have never met my Dad. That speaks volumes to his ability to invest and trust in his sons which will become even more apparent in the coming weeks of this series. So, since many do not know my Dad there is something you need to know which is important to the point of today’s exercise in R&A’s history: He doesn’t take shortcuts and always goes the extra mile.

Those who have run into him within the R&A network of services over the years know this expectation, but here is the masterclass of “if you’re gonna do something, do it all the way with no shortcuts”.

Rick Doran doesn't take any shortcuts
The Doran family sleigh which donned Christmas time for 30 years.

For 30 consecutive holiday seasons spanning across two house locations, a hand built red sleigh was positioned in front of the house. The process of building the sleigh started in late October to inspect it, pull it out of the basement, where it was perfectly stored in the order easiest to get it out. Then the light checks would happen with a dedicated rundown ensuring the inventory was delivered in time for the sleigh to be assembled. Over the years there were additions of icicle string lights, net lights over bushes, lit up reindeer, lit up presents, and more lighting.

It was a process of set up each and every holiday season. Prep was before Thanksgiving and the whole display was put up beginning on Black Friday. Witnessed and assisted by his two boys and then eventually with their friends as we all got older sharing drinks together and laughing the day away.

So, as Dad’s furniture bug had hit him and hit him hard, this would mean the build up of his company would follow no shortcuts and going the extra mile. That client and trip to High Point Market had him on a one way trip to go all in on home furnishings. With Dad’s background at Sears and a major Midwest appliance distributor he came to be surprised the options he was accustomed to in his advertising approach were limited to due to cost constraints of the independent furniture retailer.

1990 Sears Catalog
Sears 1990 Catalog – From https://search.app.goo.gl/my6P1k7

So, for go the extra mile Dad, who was used to this (see above) he knew he had to get a resource. What the High Point experience had taught him, and his previous life journeys, you buy good furniture at a big mark up when your eyes fall in love with it first. Getting the fashion onto the page was going to be the real way to give the independent retailer a chance at success.

Just like any evolution in business three primary things needed to occur (taught to me from a wise man):

1 – You need to find a way to give value beyond just the cost of the item.

2 – You have to do it in a more organized, streamlined and efficient way than anyone else. You need to stay two steps ahead.

3 – You need a little bit of luck and a break.

Well, number 3 if you ask Dad, he would call luck but I have found it to be that you always do the right thing and overtime you build relationships that when people need help they can help you. Enter into the conversation a person from Dad’s past in Karlh McCallister of Hansbarger Appliances whom Dad had worked at in his appliance distributor days. Karlh had started to venture into furniture seeing appliances were shifting and was looking to help form a marketing group. He wanted to do something different to differentiate his group of retailers. So, he reached out to someone who he knew might give him some guidance.

Dad shared with him what he was trying to accomplish which was to bring four color inserts at an affordable cost that would be custom to share the vision of each retailers setting. To accomplish this Dad knew he would need lots of retailers on a group print run to get the cost down enough to make it tenable but also to justify the customization he wanted. Karlh listened and took a risk on Dad.

That risk turned into the Key Marketing flyer program headlined by R&A Marketing. So, Dad heavies up on people, space and technology to make this dream a reality.

This didn’t go without sacrifice to reach these goals. It’s what being in a family business is all about.

  • Mom was the neighborhood babysitter for many around my age while others had to work.
  • We did after hours work cleaning cemetery offices to help allow my brother and I to live the childhood they felt we should while making ends meet.
  • There were investments from family members.
  • There was delivering the first onslaught of inserts, where it made sense, on his own in a beat up gray van while bringing along me as a way to mix work with family.
  • There was finding the right banker at the right time.


There are always lots of things. Everyone reading this knows that.Each of these things, coupled with investment in points 1 and 2, allowed R&A to make a splash. That splash led to:

  • Strategic quarterly planning to help fill in the times where an insert wasn’t there to give that extra layer of value add.
  • Round Table events to bring like minded groups together.
  • Fishing trips to Canada with key accounts to build community but also allow their children to bond.
  • Retail Marketing Alliances with financial, operational and merchandising consulting.
  • Visits to all the major markets to not get space but build community with retailers by seeing the merchandise the way they did.


This is the R&A that I grew up in. The R&A I fell in love with. The R&A I thought I would never get to be apart of because that wasn’t apart of Dads plan. However, those plans can change and sometimes you need a little bit of luck and a break.

Over the next 6 weeks we will be sharing 6 key moments that lead to the R&A you see today. In their moments of time, they all seemed like trivial occurrences that are just “what you do” to get to the next move in business. However upon reflection, those moments helped lead to the 2nd generation marketing company you see today.

Part 1 – So you want to be my ad guy uh?

Part 2 – If you can’t see the fashion it ain’t worth it!

Part 3 – He’s the cheapest and most passionate option you got

Part 4 – Yea he can play with his little social toys – June 1st

Part 5 – You get my customer. Can you make it work online? – June 8th

Part 6 – How bad do you want this boys? – June 15th

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To sum up our thoughts each and every week, our CEO Kyle Doran, has decided to drop a #SumItUpSaturday that helps paint a picture on where we are heading in this year.

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