As the director/owner of Difrax, I’m constantly dealing with money issues. The good news is that the money keeps coming in. The bad news is that it goes out as quickly as it came in.
If, like me, you’ve been brought up to be careful with money, you’ll count every penny. It’s taken me years to learn not to be such a penny pincher. If I say so myself, I’ve taken steps in the right direction, but the same cannot always be said of the company.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, to the early days of Difrax. My parents built up the company from scratch, from the very first soother. They toiled and worked hard to turn the business into what it is today. For instance, my mother and grandmother would spend days on end inserting 100 cotton buds into a little tube, while I watched on from my little box.
The boxes were then put on the roof rack of my father’s car, and we travelled the length and breadth of the Netherlands, staying overnight in Zeeland or Groningen selling our wares to pharmacies. That was the beginning of Difrax. Money was never taken for granted, and when I asked my parents on my eighth birthday how much a piano cost, they refused to tell me. We never talked about money. At least, not how much you have, only how much you’ve spent. A penny too much is too much. And my team suffers as a result. I’m a real penny pincher. Not in every respect.
I believe that a pleasant work environment is important and that is why everything is furnished nicely with warm colours, nice lighting and bespoke furniture. No expenses spared. And if there’s something to celebrate...we pull out all the stops. Next year is a special anniversary...45 years Difrax...so we’re planning a trip to celebrate this special occasion. But, but, but.... When it comes to everyday things, I always insist on getting three quotations. I scrutinize every single bill and invoice, and regularly ask probing questions. What really annoys me is when money is wantonly wasted. And that of course does happen from time to time. ‘Expensive’ and ‘cheap’ are relative terms. And when it’s the boss’s money...that makes it even easier.
Unfortunately, I struggle to distinguish between Difrax money and my own money. It feels like one and the same thing. And that means I’m reasonably isolated within the company. I’m the ‘thrifty, frugal one’, and they know that. Fortunately, they also come to my office bearing good news. ‘We saved this much by doing x-y-z….’
I always give the same answer: that was a productive 10-minute phone call...I don’t earn that kind of money every day. But there are knock-on effects. Buying is in my DNA, and I don’t think that will ever change. I hope I’m wise enough not to fall into the trap of penny-wise, pound-foolish (penny wise foolish), I understand the principle but I always like to remind myself of it. You have been warned! My apologies everyone ... it’s probably due to my upbringing ;-)