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Postcards from a road warrior


Direct Capital’s Douglas Solomon knows how to get around.

“Mary Jo, if I’m in the office too much, then there’s a problem,” Douglas Solomon, the new vice president of strategic relations for Direct Capital, told me over the phone last fall. I was interviewing him on his new position at the company for our sister publication, the Restaurant Finance Monitor.

It’s Solomon’s charge to build relationships with and lending programs for franchisors, and that requires meeting with them in person. Thus, the comment about hanging out in the finance company’s headquarters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, made sense.

I figured by Solomon’s tone on the call that he’s an affable guy and I could have a little fun with him. “Hey, send me a postcard from all your stops,” I joked.

Solomon was game: I received postcards from Vegas, Orlando and Detroit, but also from some more out-of-the-way locales.

As you can see from the postcard below, he stopped in New Jersey to visit both Jersey Mike’s and Wyndham Hotels, “where postcards are not easy to find…” I’ll say: The photo featured the Ford Mansion, one of George Washington’s encampments during the war. (George undoubtedly hung out in the mansion, the soldiers outside in tents.) Unexpected, but interesting.

One of my favorite cards sported a fuzzy photo of the Charlotte, North Carolina, International Airport sign. That’s right. Not really too much of the airport, just the sign. Then in script: “Charlotte is….INTERNATIONAL.” I’m not sure who buys that kind of postcard, except for a guy on assignment to send postcards to a strange publisher of a franchise rag.

But, most interesting was Solomon’s note on the back: “Hi, Mary Jo. Yesterday: Five Guys in VA. Today: Denny’s in SC. Tomorrow: Popeyes in GA. All good!” Road warrior, indeed.

Eight postcards later, I met Solomon in person at our Restaurant Finance & Development Conference in Vegas. We were laughing about his homework, but he said he also had some great encounters along the way.

When he told people in the cities he was visiting what he was up to, they wanted to help. Store clerks offered to mail postcards for him so he wouldn’t have to track down an elusive mailbox; some dug into their stash of stamps to offer him one. Even an airline gate agent got into the spirit of the quest.

“I had some great conversations” with people he wouldn’t have otherwise met, he said.

I’m not sure what Solomon will do now to occupy himself in airports, but I know I’ll miss his missives: I already feel the loss of an empty inbox.

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