The Big Move

Before my family and I moved to South Florida, we lived in Cherry Hill New Jersey.  At least once a year we would take a trip to Florida to visit my mother in West Palm Beach…

In 1973, when we took our yearly trip to Florida, I asked my husband if we could one day move here. He thought I was joking, however, the truth was that things were not going smoothly in New Jersey. My husband, Herman, had just lost his job and I could see him struggling to find himself. I imagined it would be great if we could start anew and forget about the issues that we were facing in New Jersey.

He agreed and within minutes, before we even knew where we would live, he scheduled a meeting with a business broker. A few days before we would return to New Jersey the Business Broker showed us three companies; A Coffee & Food Service, A Shoe Store, and the third, a Telephone Answering Service.

The first two did not appeal to us, but after seeing the Telephone Answering Service, Herman immediately knew that was the business he wanted.  Herman walked the floor and observed the little company in action. He was mesmerized by the switch boards and the operators in motion. Pondering the possibilities he smiled in complete contentment. I think this was when Herman first started to develop a passion for the Telephone Answering Service Industry.

Unfortunately, their asking price was too high, far beyond what we could afford, so very disheartened we were forced to walk away.

Herman started researching the operation and management of a Telephone Answering Service. He noticed that not many were for sale, and only a very few were located in Florida.

Then, in 1974 when we moved to Florida, Herman and I met with another business broker. The first question he asked us was, “What kind of business we were looking for?” Very jokingly, knowing how hard they were to come by, my husband said, “A telephone answering service!”

The broker never found the humor in Herman’s statement, instead he boldly responded, “Ok, Mr. Shooster, I will find you a telephone service”. The broker’s determination was admirable, he used a telephone directory, and started calling the Telephone Answering Services listed to solicit their business. Then only four letters into the alphabet he got a hit; Ding-A-Ling Answering Service in Fort Lauderdale was for sale.

At first, I was skeptical, not knowing what to expect in Fort Lauderdale. A few days later we traveled there, I think this was the first time I ever came to Fort Lauderdale.

The owners of the answering service were two brothers, Frank and Joe Brooks. They explained the revenue from company was not enough to support both their families, so they wanted to sell the company and divide the equity.

Herman was given some time to consider the purchase of the business so he invited his brother to South Florida to get his advice. He unequivocally told him to walk away. Herman listened to his brother advice but in the end he made up his own mind.

A few days after our initial negotiation, I came home and Herman was slouching on the sofa wearing a pair of shades. “What’s wrong Herman?” I asked, “The deal is off”, he told me. The Brooks Brothers changed their minds and did not want to sell the company anymore. I was disappointed too, but instead of walking away I asked Herman, to invite the brothers for lunch, that way we could end on good terms.

The Brooks hardly went anywhere; however, they accepted our offer and visited us for lunch. It is funny the way things worked out, even now I still think what would have happened if we never had lunch. That day we unofficially became the owners of Ding-A-Ling Answering Service. My husband’s face beamed with joy when they decided to go through with the sale.

After the sale was finalized Herman and I made a promise that we would do everything in our power to ensure the success of the company. Later we realized that our success depended on the success of our clients and we vowed to ensure their success.

Observing the answering service today, I can confidently say, the promise that Herman and I made is still being held in high esteem, and that makes me happy. It is a good feeling to know we aided in the success of some of the world’s most prestigious businesses.

Dorothy Shooster 

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