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  • Writer's pictureRuss Newton

Good Friends are visiting me.

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Rachel and Phillip in my living room.

Rachel and Philip Brandt from Fresno, CA flew in on Friday night and are going to be in town for the next four days. Tonight we went to a comedy show in Stoughton, Wisconsin. We were guests of Jim and Susan Pagel, two more great friends of mine.

So I got to know Phil back in 2007 when I was SVP of Operations at the Times and Phil was the owner of Brandt Brothers and was one of three vendors that provided transportation services for the Los Angles Times. The first part of this story started with the pressroom Union we were negotiating a first contract with. And the President of Union Ronnie Pineda came to the first negotiations session and made an impassion speech about how they had the Pressroom and Transportation Unions and were going to get Packaging next. And we would be "surrounded" by Teamster unions. In between sessions we closed a deal to lay off all the Teamsters drivers and replaced them with three different Trucking firms. Ryder, Fox and Brandt Brothers. And to be clear, we had been in these negotiations for months and it was just dumb luck that Ronnie made his statement and we outsourced the drivers before the next session. But at the next session I got the satisfaction of saying "Tell me again about how you have us surrounded with Teamster unions?"

Phil's company delivered outstanding service over the next couple of years so I gave him 2/3rds of the Trucking first, then a couple of years later he had all the Trucking business of the Times. But what was really interesting about this relationship is we became good friends along the way. Hell, great friends.

It started when he brought in a gift basket. I asked him how much did it cost. I think I had to look it up online, because he didn't want to say. It was well over $200. More than I could accept as a gift according to Times Policy. So he had to take it back. He told me he had to give the people before me a lot more than that, but wouldn't accept it. Then another time he mentioned had a Rim and Tire store and I arranged to buy four Rims from him. And I had a dickens of a time convincing him I had to pay for it. He told me it was $200 a rim so I paid him $800 for four. Then later on I cracked one and looked up online a replacement rim and discovered they were $800 each! So he pulled a fast one over on me!

Phil doesn't read this blog and I can only guess at the reason but it is a pretty good guess. He has a hard time with death of anyone he knows. He didn't go to his father's funeral is a prime example. And I think my ALS is harder on him than it is on me. So my last lesson I am trying to impart to Phil is to accept death as a part of life and to embrace it, don't reject it. It will be a challenge but I have to try.

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