The start of a beautiful partnership.
Ernest van den Heuvel is 180 pounds of creative energy. Charged by a 50.000 kilovolt shock in his teen years when he climbed an electrical tower. (Yes that was stupid. Don't do this at home! Even if you really have an electrical tower near your house) He was a backhoe operator for years and did a lot of excavating work in the New York and New Jersey area. If you see a shopping mall there, then there is a big chance Ernie did the digging for the foundation. This is where he made his money. He subsequently invested in a dream: The toy brand, HandTrux and the toy that would propel it: The HandTrux Backhoe. Developing it just right so that children and grown ups would have fun using it. Also, that the right quality was there that he dreamed about. A toy that did not fall apart when you unwrapped it. Durability and strength. Like the real machine. It took a while to find the right partners in a time that money was cheap and hard to come by at the same time.
Digging your way to the top with limited means takes tenacity. Big Toy companies can establish a new toy with a big marketing budget within a few months. If you have less money to spend then you need street smarts, perseverance, creativity and all kinds of characteristics. Luckily Ernie has this in abundance. Besides that, Ernie rocks. We mean he really does rock. He makes a fine piece of music with his band "Rough Embrace". He made his first song when he was in the hospital after burning a big part of his body when he climbed the electrical tower. He got zapped by electricity, but it awoke in him an unstoppable creativity. He describes the creativity as a water faucet, you only have to reach out to touch it.
After sleeping off the jet lag, there was a new day in New York. Aldo's Armenian new friend showed him what Armenian hospitallity means. Something he already knew about from his wife Ruzanna. "Jay" or if you'd really like to try (at your own risk!): "Zhirayr" had taken a leave of absence for the whole week to drive Aldo where ever he needed and wanted to go. Later in the week there was even a bit of a fight about a dinner bill Aldo insisted he would pay for, but he was not given any chance to do so. You would say a dutchmen would be happy. There is a phrasing in the Enlish language "to go dutch", which means to split the bill, but even this was not permited by Jay.
They would visit the HandTrux Office a few times. Also, arrangements were made between Jay and Ernie. Jay would drop off Aldo at a certain diner and Ernie would pick him up. The first thing Aldo wanted to do was visit the factory where they were making the Toys. So they did. It is also something for Aldo to see it for real. Ernie gave a tour and explained together with Tony Karl, the owner of the factory, how things work and how the HandTrux Backhoe is made. It's always advisable if you would ever do something like this and invest a lot of money in something that you will visit the factory. To see the production for real will help you get a feel for how things are made. What is possible and what a descision as a salesman can mean on the factory floor. In this way you will not likely make the mistake most salesman make: promising something you cannot deliver because of restrictions in the production of the product.
When Aldo skyped with Ernie to tell him the news that he was coming to New York, Ernie did not believe him at first. Aldo needed to tell him several times that it was true. For an American it is apperently hard to think you would look over the borders of your own country Aldo thought. Most American's don't even own a passport. Aldo learned quickly that Ernest van den Heuvel only is Dutch in name. His grandma's grandma stepped off a boat in the 1600's. Aldo taught Ernie some dutch, but those are cannot be repeated here. The fact that Ernie had a dutch name was something that felt like a sign to Aldo when he contacted HandTrux for the first time. Since then it has happened several times in the whole HandTrux adventure that things were too coincidental to be just that. Sometimes it feels like the time is just right to do something and you get help from above. Both men felt this. It was also an instant trusted relationship. Both men wanted the same thing. To be successfull with HandTrux. Both on their own continent. They know they are not "Mr. Lego" as they always say. They will need to face challenges, be smart and finding other ways then just big television commercials and campagnes to put the product into the market. Luckily a lot of people like the HandTrux and like to talk about it. In just a short amount of time there is a buzz going about the toy.
Aldo had never held a real HandTrux in his hands. Negotiations with Ernie and John Romano were almost final when the first HandTrux arrived in Tilburg, The Netherlands. It was everything Aldo imagined it would be. It was strong, big enough for an normal sized adult and big enough so a child would feel big without it being to big to handle it.
The American customs officer wanted to know everything about the adventure when asked what the purpose of visiting America was, but in a good and not a scary way. That is a big difference between American and Dutch culture. They welcome entrepeneurs. People who go with their heart for something. In Holland, they want you to behave "normal". What ever that is. Don't do something wild. Keep your head down and your mouth shut. If you tell them about your hopes and dreams a lot of ducth people will think you're bragging. The American dream is not only for Americans, european's also get inspired by it. You might argue that it is not so musch an American dream but a human dream. Aldo liked the spirit of going for it. Believe in something so strong that nothing is going to hold you back. So did Ernie.
Jay dropped Aldo off at the diner and Ernie picked him up. Ernie wanted to show Aldo some of the parts of New Jersey. They went to DeMarino Trucking and Top Soil. The company that Ernie worked with in his excavating days. There are developments to make a TV series about the work that this company is doing and the colorful people doing it. It is playing professionaly in the dirt for a living. Who does not like to see this?
Aldo met all the Guys at DeMarino. They look rough but they are very nice. If you see them at first you think you are going to end up in a ditch and be burried alive, but they are the warmest people you will ever meet in the Excavating industry. Besides meeting them there was also a nice opportunity to make some publicity photo's. So Aldo changed into his overalls and some of the Hardware was turned on. The guys at DeMarino went out of there way to help make the photo's look as good as possible. Getting up into a bulldozer or backhoe was fun to do. Aldo could also be behind a desk programming some website or webshop. But this is more fun. Ernie and Aldo drove around in a bulldozer on the DeMarino grounds. Pictures were taken of them together. The HandTrux International Limited Multinational Franchise corporation USA Europe connection. They needed to work on a better name for it.