Leonard Weintraub was posthumously inducted into the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) Retail Technology Hall of Fame at the awards banquet at the association’s 2013 RetailNOW event. Since 2008, RSPA has recognized outstanding professionalism and contributions to the Retail Technology Industry with a place in the Hall of Fame.
“My father said Lenny helped get a lot of dealers into business,” says Dave McCarthy, former chairman and former secretary-treasurer of the RSPA Board of Directors. “Most dealers had little money, so Lenny would leave a couple of cash registers on consignment with a hand shake deal saying, ‘When you sell them pay me.’ If Lenny didn’t get paid you didn’t get any more equipment.”
McCarthy describes Weintraub as having an “ever-present cigar,” which contributed to his raspy voice. He adds that when he spoke, he was very fair and a man of his word — which he also expected from the people he dealt with.
McCarthy counted on Weintraub’s knowledge and experience:
Around 1973, I was in our Utica, New York office, and I got a call from a doctor’s office with an NCR 42 for sale — the 42 sold for over $6,000 new at the time. I drove to the doctor’s office and looked at it — it was a cream puff. I had no idea what it was worth but thought $600 at least. I called Lenny, and he said he would pay $1,500. I called the doctor’s office back, and they said they had approved $600 — but I increased the offer to $700 fearing a competitor. I bought it and we made $800. That was a week’s payroll for our Utica office at the time.
The next time, there were some NCR 53 registers for sale from a closing department store. I called Lenny from a pay phone and gave him the model and serial number of one of them. I asked what they were worth, hoping for another deal like the 42. Instead, I got, “They’re junk kid!”
Dennis Malloy, 2009 Retail Technology Hall of Fame Inductee, also recalls Weintraub’s business prowess. “Lenny was a naturally shrewd negotiator,” says Malloy. “Lenny was in a meeting to discuss purchasing a business. The dealer had his attorney and accountant at the meeting. Lenny first said I don’t have my attorney with me and asked the attorney if he’d excuse himself. He then said he didn’t have his accountant with him and asked the accountant if he’d excuse himself. After they were both out of the room, Lenny said ‘Okay, now we can talk about buying your business.’”
Malloy says, “Lenny was a wholesale distributor of a line of cash registers in the mid-1970s. That company owed Lenny about $250,000 for work he had done for them. He couldn’t be paid. He ordered over 1,000 cash registers from them and when they called him for payment after shipping them, Lenny said, ‘Okay, now we can discuss payment.’”
Malloy also recalls a Weintraub quote: “As long as you break even, you can be in business forever.”
Malloy says Weintraub had a flair for getting his point across, like the importance of being polite, clear, and fair:
Lenny was in Japan meeting with a Japanese company about distributing their products in the United States. Lenny had a friend with him, and there were about a dozen representatives of the Japanese company at the table. Lenny would ask a question, and the Japanese would confer at length in Japanese and the English answer would be “yes” or “no.” This went on for a while, so Lenny turned to his friend and engaged his friend in Yiddish — telling him to just talk with him — it didn’t matter the topic. After a while, the Japanese interrupted and asked Lenny to speak English so they could understand. Lenny told them he didn’t speak Japanese so he was at liberty to speak with his associate in a different language. The Japanese then answered they all spoke English and they’d continue if they all did so in English.
McCarthy also remembers Weintraub for his involvement with RSPA, formerly the, the Independent Cash Register Dealers Association (ICRDA), of which he was a life member. “He loved the RSPA and ICRDA. He always attended the conventions — summer and winter back then — and the last few years would simply stand by the main entrance to the lobby and engage people in conversation, seeing how they were doing, how business was going, and tell some stories of his own.”