What Field Hockey taught me about Business

Sandy Cook - front row far right
I’m in the front row – far right.

One of the best experiences I had in high school was playing field hockey.  When I watch the game on TV today, I’m surprised how different it was when I played.  Our coach – Ms. Freitas insisted that we be ladies on the field; helping an opponent up if they fall and being humble with our scoring.  In 1969-72 when I played, there was no money for girls sports – this was prior to Title IX and field hockey was a part of GAA – a girls club – not a sport.  I don’t know how Ms. Freitas came up with the money for field hockey, but somehow she managed.  The fields were rather poor.  I remember playing La Jolla Country Day School and they had a fence right at the end of the field.  As a left wing, I would run down the field and at the last minute send my pass to the center.  After an unusually fast breakaway, I sent my pass and couldn’t stop and ran into that fence – knocking myself out.  This was one of the few games my dad attended.  He was a hod carrier and working in La Jolla that day.  If you ever want to read about a hard job – read about hod carriers for plasters.  This was before they had guns that brought plaster and stucco up high rises.  A hod carrier would carry that plaster up many stories on their back.  Grueling work.    After being knocked out, I woke up seeing his concerned face.  I remember being a little embarrassed; he was still in his work clothes, but when I think of it today – I should have been proud.  I think he was the only parent from our school at that game.  I wasn’t a great athlete, but I really wanted to play field hockey.  My dad’s best friend, Don Minter had recently remarried and now had a step-daughter, June Miller.  They lived with us for a brief time before finding a house in Escondido to fit the new family.  June sort of adopted me, she was a year older and a decade older in confidence!  She talked me into trying out for field hockey and I noticed nobody wanted to play left wing.  A field hockey stick only has one side, so to hit it from the left to the center meant a twisted hold.  Being left-handed, it seemed a little easier for me than for most girls, so I tried out for that position.  I ended up getting a lot of playing time and since most players can pass easier from the center/right to the left – I got a lot of passes and eventually assists.  I did score a few goals, but mostly because I was it the right place at the right time and I think sometimes the ball hit my stick and ricocheted into the goal!

Larry Cook and Sandy Cook
Larry Cook and Sandy Cook in 1972 (now Sandi Jerome)

So playing field hockey taught me that there is usually a portion of the “market” that nobody else wants or thinks is too difficult (left wing) and that you can be a good player, play hard – yet still be courteous and kind on the playing field – but watch out for unexpected fences.

You can get funding if you want (Ms. Freitas did) and never be ashamed of your roots or anyone that is will to support your efforts – my dad!-

In that picture to the right is my Dad (all cleaned up) 1972 – Larry Cook and Sandy Cook (now Sandi Jerome.)  I talked to my dad every Weds at lunch and he’s still a great influence in my life.  My mom died right after 9/11/2001, and we all still miss her.

So when I decided to create a DMS system – DealerStar.com, I thought about a market that nobody wanted; a fully integrated web-based DMS with CRM.  Most of the current DMS companies spend a lot of effort integrating with the hundreds of CRM providers.  What if we could “toss in” CRM with the DMS and make it run smoother and save dealers money?  If a dealer still wants to use a 3rd party CRM, we just make simple import/exports to still enable an interface.

The other difficult part is multi-company.  Right now only ADP and R+R truly do multi-company (intercompany transactions) and they don’t really do it very well.  As a CPA, I know how this should work, so that is the way I designed DealerStar.  Many dealers that I know have 2-5 dealerships and end up having to get ADP or R+R to run their companies.   As far as being courteous and kind, well…that is just in my nature.  I’m a happy person.

I certainly had some unexpected fences; it is hard to bring a technology company to market and getting funding will always be challenge – but I’m certainly proud of our roots – we’re “car people” – in other words, I have done almost every job in the dealership except “turning a wrench”  – although while being a fixed operations manager, I did get a little dirtier than I’d would have liked!  In addition, while growing up as a 4-H girl, I took Automotive and Small Engine (gotta learn how to fix that tractor!)   But that’s story is for another blog…if there are some former 4-Hers out there, you’ll notice our company motto “To Make the Best DMS Better” and 4-H motto are similar, “To Make the Best Better.”

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