News Release July 2011
Mike Duve's email to PRO detailing his exit from PRO Gun Shows.
To: "Randy [redacted]"; "Peter [redacted]"; "; "Ron [redacted]"; "; "Brent [redacted]"; "; "Brent[redacted]";
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 4:58 PM Attach: Exhibitors 2008.xls; Gun Show Resource List.xls; Gun Show Resource List.xlsx; Answering machine script Westland 7767.doc; Answering machine script Westland 7759.doc
Subject: Mike has left the building
Mike has left the building
I regret to inform you all that I have decided to run away from home.
I am burnt out on the gun shows, being hall monitor for adults who should know how to behave at a gun show, being the go to guy, being the guy with all the answers, fighting with building owners and everything else. I am not only broke but deeply in debt.
Yes, I could stay and declare bankruptcy, but it would not help anything and I would just have to put up with an endless stream of phone calls and paperwork.
The company I used to work for and keep an office at, CPR, complete property resources was paying me over $ 60.000.00 a year UNTIL about 3 years ago when they filed for bankruptcy. Since then I have been trying to replace that income and subsidize the money losing gun shows. When they went under they owed me over
$ 250,000.00 in back commissions, yes a quarter million dollars.
Some of the gun shows do make money. Just not enough to offset the losses on the others.
I have been using credit cards and last year alone I borrowed over $ 100.000.00 to try to stay afloat. With the economy and the credit crunch, I canít get any more funds.
The gun shows require a huge amount of man hours and I canít concentrate long enough on anything else to make a buck.
My plan is to just walk away from it all. Yes all my credit will be shot and all the companies and individuals I owe money to will probably sue and obtain judgements etc. But I have no assets. The house is over encumbered and would not bring enough at sale to clear the existing mortgages so why bother. It is my hope that with a change in scenery, I might have some ideas that actually work. There are several things in this country I would like to see before I die, and if I stay I never will.
My wife Susan had nothing to do with this predicament. I have hidden the full extent of my debts and problems from her. She asked for a divorce when I told her, and I signed the papers.
Please donít blame her or expect her to have any money or to know where I am. She is losing her home. She is losing her credit history and is stuck with a huge number of bills. She will have to declare bankruptcy and move out of the house when it is foreclosed on in a few months.
I have left the state and I wonít be using my Social Security number for anything. I have a new vehicle not in my name. So donít bother to look for me. It wonít help and will just be a waste of time and more money.
Just for the record, I have been promoting the shows for 20 years. Yes I started in 1988. In trying to keep things going I have cashed in my IRA, Sold all my gold and silver coins I had been collecting for 20 years, cashed out my life insurance policy, sold all the guns I had collected in 20 years, lost my home and driven my wife away.
What can you do? Well I believe you need to shut down PRO and declare it bankrupt to get rid of any of the old debts.
If you wish to continue, start a new organization with a NEW name like we have been working on for over a year now.
Or let some group like the Pickaway Co. Sportsmen take over the gun shows. Luckily most of the companies I owe money to only know ME and none of you guys. So you can blame all the problems on me and if you decide to move ahead start fresh with the Building owners, Table Suppliers, Advertisers etc. as a NEW group looking to fill the void left by PRO.
If you members of PRO wish to re-organize and move on you will need the help of all the people on the list I am giving you, but YOU will also have to and RAISE capital.
The most important person on the list is John Maple of the Chillicothe area. He has been towing the trailer full of our gear for years and knows everything about the workings of the shows. Before he worked for me at the shows, he managed over 100 maintance people at the Piketon Nuke plant. He has plenty of management experience and is more than capable of managing the gun show and staff.
Next I would suggest John Finkbone. He knows most of the vendors and is very efficient. He was our original contact with the Frat House in Wilmington and continues to supply us with young, healthy, hardworking boys to help work the shows.
Those two guys could get the shows back up and running again. If you PRO guys donít want to bother, please tell them and let John Maple pitch the Pickaway Co. Sportsmen or the Clinton County Sportsmen or a combination of the two on the idea. He is a board member and they might have enough capital to get the shows started again.
Other people who are available include Matt Hooks, he is out of work and has recorded some of our past radio spots. George Semos is out of work and looking for something to do.
Another thought is to get the vendors to pay for their tables in advance for the first show and that should be enough to get you up and running again.
Cathy Wildman is at the top of the list as she has been doing all our vendor mailings for years. She knows how to get the mail out. I pay her expenses of postage and printing and $20.00/hour. She also has the list of contacts we mail flyers out for the various shows. Additionally I have been paying for her high speed internet connection and her stamps.com account.
If you want to do it yourself, just remember it will take time to learn how and will probably make everything get out late. I would lean on her for at least the first few shows before trying to do it yourself.
I am giving you the entire gun show vendor list. Separated by active, dormant and the few vendors I have banished over the years because of troubles. You donít want to let them in the shows.
The Vets Memorial in Columbus is all excited to have us, but I donít have the thousands of dollars to advertise the show and get a post card mailing out in time.
I suggest you notify them that you will not be able to get the April show together in time because I left. Then offer to book the other dates and if they bitch. Offer to pay them more for each show in the future to make up for this first one that didnít come off?
Or just tell them to sue and clear it out with a bankruptcy. The threat of that will probably get them to agree to the former.
In all fairness they owe you some slack on this one. We waited MONTHS to get an answer about the shows, then we waited another month after we signed the contracts. They just didnít give us enough time to properly promote and prepare for this first show. Additionally they STILL have not given me a price to buy out the parking lot. That could be overcome by just letting the public pay to park and then giving them a refund with their parking stub when they pay admission. But getting the public informed and trained to do that will be tricky.
Also, the Columbus Fire dept. never got back to me. The paperwork from their website seems clear enough and it looks like they only need $25.00 for the permit but I just donít know what to expect from them, they wonít talk to me. Their web site is under Columbus dept. of public safety.
The vets has a July date over the 4th that I think will work and good news they have the Thanksgiving weekend open.
But it is all a crap shoot. We donít know if people will drive downtown even if we scream FREE PARKING? We just donít know if they will come. If you cut back to just a few shows a year. Like a summer, the Thanksgiving, the New Years and the after Super Bowl show. You might make it special enough to get them to attend despite the parking fees etc. And it would certainly be easier on everybody if there were fewer shows and hopefully more profitable shows because there were fewer of them. With the state of the economy, Gas Prices etc. this might be the way to go.
With the next election none of us knows for sure if we will even be able to hold a gun show in the near future. So this may all be moot.
I canít take the stress and donít have the capital to bet on the outcome with. One more reason to leave town.
You defiantly have time to organize the next Westland show scheduled for the end of April. The tables are there and setup and it is ready to go. If you decide not to, please let Keystone Expositions know so they can come pick up their tables.
Marty Friedman of PA has our entire post card mailing list of over 40,000.
We usually mail 20-25,000 for the Columbus show. Concentrating on the following zip codes: 432xx, 431xx,430xx,437xx, 45xxx.
We usually just mail 45xxx for the Wilmington show
And if you can afford it mail the 44xxx for the Vets show or at least once a year when you can fill up the post card with 4 or more shows it is a good idea.
We have been combining multiple shows on each post card to get more mileage out of them. Even a small mailing costs at least 7000.00, you can figure about .25cents per card for postage and a bit more for printing.
Our printer, Mailings inc. in PA takes the list from Marty and prints, sorts and takes the entire mess to the Post office for us. Good deal.
Marty also handles the bulk email to our email list. He charges us for this, but he also handles all the bounce backs, stop this messages etc. You just have to draft the email message. He can supply you with old ones and you can modify them..Many of you have already seen them in your inbox. If someone else wants to volunteer to send out the emails, just ask Marty for the email list.
The voice mail numbers I have been using since 1993 and the number on the show schedules and all the past mailings are 614-523-7767 for vendors and 614-523-7759 for the public. They are both from ďNo more phone tagĒ of Westerville. I will see that they are paid for the next month, after that if you still want to use them I will send the bills to John Maple. To access them and change the recorded outgoing message just dial the number, when the message starts playing, hit #. It will ask for the code.
Punch in 9999 for 7767 and 0909 for 7759 then it will give you a menu to choose from. Hit 8 to for outgoing message, then 2 to record a new message. When finished hit 9. Use a good land line phone and speak loudly to get a good recording. This has been a very easy system to use and there are plenty of prompts to help you along.
I will include the scripts that I use for the outgoing voice mail messages. The 7759 number is the one published in all the ads to the public and gives them directions, times, admission costs and they are encouraged to leave their name and address to get on the mailing list. I play these back, then send them by email to Marty to be added to the mailing list. The 7767 number is the one published in gun magazines and in the mailings to the vendors to call for tables. It always starts out with the setup times, the next show dates, costs for tables, directions, then hours for the public and it ask for vendors to leave their name, address and what they sell to be put on the vendor list, and it asks the public to leave their name and address to receive post cards for future shows.
Our insurance lady is named Hilda. Her contact info is on the list. They can arrange show insurance very quickly by credit card or overnight check and they also offer Cancellation insurance. I have used that in the dead of winter to cover any potential losses due to weather. They are very good.
We have a date on hold with the Aladdin Shrine in Gahanna for Sept. I will leave the contract. We have not signed it yet. If you want to keep the date, fill out the contract, if not, please tell them as much.
There is another box of 5000 show schedules at [redacted] the printer at 4th and 5th st.
As I said before, work closely with John Maple as he is your only hope of having more shows. OR tell him you are folding and he is free to peruse the shows with the Pickaway county boys. Please schedule a meeting with him and John Finkbone as soon as possible and make some decisions.
The very first thing you need to do is update the web sites with your decision and let John Loree at the Vets know what you are going to do.
Next is a mailing to the vendors to let them know what is going on. If there will be an April show at vets or not and
that the March Athens show was canceled etc. We cancelled the Athens Show because there were no Hotel Rooms available anywhere in town on that weekend due to a Wrestling tournament.
If you draft it, Cathy Wildman can get it printed, folded, stuffed and mailed and front you the money, BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY HER BACK by the first of the next month.
I would suggest you CALL all the vendors and tell them your decision It will only take a few hours to reach the oneís who have booked tables for those shows.
Then change the outgoing voice mails with the same info.
I have attached a list of all the gun show contacts I have.
My old email address will stay up for a month or so until they shut it down for non-payment. I will check it from a library or internet cafť wile on the road. But it will be very sporadic. Donít expect a prompt reply or any at all. If I can I will.
My old cell phone will be left at home and will stop working in a month or so also for non-payment. You can leave a message if it is not full. I will check it from pay phones or a disposable cell with a calling card every now and then.
I am truly sorry that things worked out this way. I wish things had turned out better, I wish more people would have come to the shows, I wish we hadnít have had shows wiped out by blizzards and ice storms, I wish I would have been more successful in thinking of ways to make more money with the shows. I wish CPR had paid me the quarter million dollars they owed me. But you know what they say about wishesÖ..
Some of the Vendors we owe money to include: amounts are approx.
The Roberts Centre Wilmington ( for the Jan and Feb Shows) 21,000.00
Clark County Fairgrounds (for the Springfield show) 4500.00
KES Keystone Expositions Services (Tables and Chairs ) 6000.00
Nelsons Tables 3000.00
Campbells Toyota Lift of Hilliard (elect jacks for Westland) 1800.00
Columbus Dispatch 6000.00
Gun show Digest (formerly gun list) 2200.00
Big Show Journal 1200.00
610 Radio 5000.00
WLW Radio in Cinci 6000.00
WLWT TV 5 in Cinci 4500.00
WBZI Radio in Wilmington 1800.00
And probably a few other small newspapers and radio stations
If you intend to work with any of these vendors it should probably be under a new name and organizationÖ..
OR let them know the situation and ask to work out a deal where they receive all new bills paid up front and something for the old bills as the shows continue. In this economy and faced with receiving nothing as an alternative, they should be willing to work with you. Everyone out there is so desperate for any kind of business.
Remember you can blame all these past problems on me. You are the good guy coming to help them.
Who are we on good terms with?
These vendors were always paid up front
WHIO Radio in Dayton.
Kiss Country Radio in Springfield
Newspaper net of Cent Ohio. Includes Lancaster, Zanesville, Bucyrus, Mansfield, Newark papers.
Circleville Herald (Brown Publications) Includes Circleville Athens Jackson etc.
Wilmington News Journal. Includes Xenia and surrounding areas
Dayton Daily News. Includes Springfield and other local papers.
Hint on Westland. I always delivered them a check on Friday of the show.. It wonít clear for a week because they send it to Cleveland and deposit it there.
You can check the authenticity of this email by contacting PROís Legal Counsel, David M Buda, at 35 E Livingston Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215-5762. Telephone :( 614) 221-3456. ( PDF Version )