On April 27, the rental industry lost one of its most well-known, influential and supportive members when Paul L. Schubert passed on. He was known by family, friends and associates for his loyalty and respect as well as for his desire and ability to help others.
Born June 18, 1934 in Baltimore, MD, Paul began his business career as a "jobsite" tool salesman for a contractor equipment dealer in Philadelphia. He went on to hold several managerial positions with several leading manufacturers of cutting, sawing and drilling products for the construction industry. In 1976, Paul joined the ACC Corp. as national sales manager and by 1979 was promoted to vice president and general manager.
In 1983, Paul founded Pro-Cut Products Inc. and guided the company to a prominent position in the U.S. construction industry. In so doing, many believe that Paul was the most instrumental force in introducing diamond blades to rental companies.
Paul sold Pro-Cut to the Norton Co. in 1989, while retaining his position as president and chief operating officer. In 1992, he was promoted to director of marketing, Norton Superabrasive Division, and in February 1993, he assumed additional duties as Norton sales training director, North America Operations.
The customer is the boss
Paul built his career on the notion that a company’s goals and initiatives should be based on customers’ needs and not on balance sheet performance. It’s due in part to this philosophy that when many of his friends and associates recall his career, they remember the way he supported his customers and employees.
"Paul respected his employees, his customers, his associates and in return, he was highly respected by all," says Jim Rhoades, Paul’s friend of 35 years and Pro-Cut rep covering Indiana, Kentucky and southwest Ohio. "If you had an idea, he would listen, and if your idea was one that could produce a better way of helping a customer grow and be a better person, it got done. He would never ask you to do something he would not do himself. His customers were the boss."
The consummate coach
Paul’s ability to listen to others was part of what gained him so much respect, notes Lew Hudson, president of Lew Hudson Sales, who’s been Paul’s friend for over 20 years. "He had an unbelievable ability to build relationships and to motivate others. He really knew how to bring out the best in people."
Hudson also remembers Paul as an intensely loyal individual. "He was one of the most loyal friends you could have," he says. "When he sold Pro-Cut, he required the new owners -who he selected himself -to keep all his employees, especially his sales force."
Laurie Schubert, Paul’s wife of 17 years, adds, "When he sold Pro-Cut, he was so devoted to making sure his reps were taken care of, that they were heard. Outside of his family, nothing meant more to him than his relationship with his reps."
After selling Pro-Cut, Paul refused to retire, but opted instead to give something back to the industry that had made him prosperous. Since 1996, Paul was a sales and marketing consultant to companies serving the rental and distribution industries. Starting in 1998, he began writing his Schubert’s Standpoint column for Rental Product News, which he continued to do until his passing.
Throughout his career, according to friends and associates, Paul was not driven by personal accolades or money.
"He never took credit for the success of his company," Hudson says. "He always gave credit to his sales staff."
He adds, "I served on [the Pro-Cut] advisory board for many years and Paul never talked about profits. His philosophy was to build his company around assisting his customers and helping them make a profit. His company in turn made a profit due to his customers’ success."
Rhoades agrees: "Paul’s passion for his work was driven by money -not the money he could or would make -but the profitability his customers could earn using his methods, suggestions and training. Paul cared about those hundreds and thousands of customers who purchased and/or used his products. He consistently strove to make his products better than others, not just a ‘me too’ product."