There is a common aphorism that simply states, ‘there are no friends in business’. I have no idea who to credit the quotation too, nor am I going to argue its merits. Instead I would like to tell you about an exception to this ‘rule’.
Several years ago I was running my own company and one of the products we specialized in was a range of software for magazine and newspaper publishers. It was a fantastic solution, still is in fact, but it was new to the market place and needed quick traction in order to succeed. With that in mind I targeted the three biggest magazine publishers in Australia, a task that would involve frequent demonstrations, lengthy proposals and the bashing of my head against a solid brick wall of negativity.
Ah, the joys of being a sales representative :-)
I hate cold calling! All sales people do. Show me someone who likes it, and I’ll show you someone in need of a visit to the loony bin. But in this instance I had no choice and eventually my constant chipping away at the stone wall called ‘NO’ lead to an introduction to an enigma named Fraser Crozier.
Fraser was larger than life. A giant man both in stature and personality, with a goatee like a rebel biker, a smile wider than the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and a laugh as wicked as any evil comedian. Fraser’s work persona was balanced by an intimidating knowledge of publishing software and a gentle kindness when explaining said processes to those that were not up to his level.
At first he frightened me. Not literally of course, but I was never confident in conveying my sales pitch to him purely because he knew more about my product than I did. Fraser surrounded himself with other brilliant minds and guarded his domain with the tenacity of one of Tolkien’s dwarves. He was a terrible target for cold calling and in the early days of our friendship I had to psyche myself up just to make another attempt to get through.
Fraser had a strong pre-press background, which is the same industry I had come through. As a result I knew many of the people he had worked with in the past and had done business with some of the companies who had employed him. With common ground established Fraser formed a strong friendship with myself, and my two business partners. We worked closely together and produced some incredible solutions, but more importantly we socialized together and shared some marvelous memories.
One of my fondest was the conference we attended together in Spain in 2007 with my business partner Andrew Lomas. Our hotel was a health spa on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and although the days were occupied in obtaining product knowledge, the evenings were spent drinking Tanqueray gin, sampling the various tapas restaurants in the backstreets of Calafell Village, and generally partaking in many other ‘unhealthy’ activities.
Fraser, Andrew and I solved the problems of the world during this trip, built ethereal publishing solutions that would make millions, argued about the vocal range of Billy Joel, laughed at the improbable antics of fellow conference attendees, and enjoyed each other’s company. By the time we returned to Australia a strong bond of friendship had been established.
In the years that followed dinner parties, Christmas parties, birthday parties and any other excuse to share a meal were easily and frequently found. Fraser helped us build our business, shared in our successes and generally became ‘one of the family’. He had truly transcended the boundary between client and friend.
Fraser Crozier passed away on Sunday 7th July 2013, 21 days shy of his 43rd birthday. Cancer is such an arbitrary disease.
The magazine publishing community mourns an industry gentleman, but I grieve for a friend taken way too soon.
Rest in Peace.