Harry Klemm’s “The DG Years, 1975-1976” – Episode 8: The DG Front Office

In the 1970s, the concept of selling race components nationwide by mail order was brand new. DG order takers had no internet, no cordless phones (much less cell phones) and not even a fax machine. Wall-connected telephone lines took all orders. You would think that a business like DG would have a phone sales office filled with gear-head enthusiasts taking all the phone orders. Wrong. The 1975 office staff was all women with little or no mechanical background. That said, all the office gals were meticulous about attention to the detail of paperwork because that’s what the order desk was all about. There were no office computers (not invented yet) and few typewriters. The phones rang non-stop all day long, and orders were written by hand, and then processed to the shipping department to be filled. By about 1pm every day, all the paperwork of the boxed-up orders were brought back to the girls who typed out invoices and UPS COD cards at a feverish pace to give back to the shippers. With equal urgency, the shippers matched each invoice to its packed box before 3:30 when the UPS truck showed up to take the mass of boxes away. At the end of every day, both the office gals and shippers were mentally exhausted from the non-stop race-pace of the day. They were all jealous of the “slower” pace of my daily tasks in the race shop.

One morning during my first month at DG, I was in the front office and noticed one of the gals was getting an “unfriendly earful” from a customer who was complaining about the jetting of the carburetor he had purchased from us. Seeing that the gal was struggling to deal with him, I took the call mid-stream. In a couple of minutes I diagnosed the customer’s problem, and had the customer handled, happy, and off the phone line. When I put down the phone receiver, all the office gals were silent and staring at me as if I was a Martian. Technical calls were by far their worst nightmare, and the biggest waste of their precious office time. They were stunned that I had resolved the worst kind of phone call they had to deal with in minutes.

Harry’s dreaded tech line phone in the background and probably ringing.

Without knowing it, I had inadvertently created the “tech line.” Within a couple of days there were two phones installed in my race shop. Those two phones rang non-stop for the next five years! This “tech-line” phone quickly became my greatest demon, and the most difficult aspect of my job. It got to where I actually enjoyed a high-paced Sunday at the races working with the race team, because it meant I never once had to answer a telephone.

Story Index (Click on any title to read the episode)
Episode 1: Understanding The 70s SoCal Motocross Atmosphere
Episode 2: My Road Into Motocross
Episode 3: Getting a Foot in the Door
Episode 4: Reality in the Race Shop
Episode 5: Building a Race Team
Episode 6: Building the Team Bikes
Episode 7: Understanding the Goals of a Racing Business
Episode 8: The DG Front Office
Episode 9: The Competition
Episode 10: Painting the SoCal Racer’s Atmosphere
Episode 11: From Mechanic to I.T. Before There Was I.T.
Episode 12: A Few Words About Engine “Formulas”
Episode 13: Mechanic Buddies
Episode 14: 1976 Turning Points at DG
Episode 15: Facing the “Race-Gas” Era
Episode 16: The Retail Chamber Birthplace
Episode 17: The Mammoth Motocross Classic
Episode 18: The DG/Saddleback Launching Pad

 

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