The Science of Success: The Big Picture and The Quick Take

The Science of Success: The Big Picture

Philip Cable of American Science & Surplus

Philip Cable of American Science & Surplus


American Science & Surplus was established in 1937 and in 2000, Philip Cable, a self-proclaimed life-long science geek bought the company.  American Science & Surplus sells an eclectic mix of silly, science and surplus each with informative and often hilarious descriptions that make the item descriptions in both the store and catalogue a hoot to read.  While American Science & Surplus has an emphasis on science and education, you can also get nose-shaped pencil sharpeners, laughing monkeys and odd springs and coils and motors or old military gear.  They attract a wide assortment of tinkerers, builders and creative sorts looking to see what sparks their interest.  In 2012, American Science & Surplus sparked interest to the tune of $7 million in sales.  Not bad for selling stuff that others couldn’t move.

The Quick Take:
Best Advice: Surround yourself with good people and be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses areas to find those that can complement you.  Another tip – have as big of a life outside of work as inside.

Greatest Failure: The time they installed a newer version of software than the version on which they had done their due diligence.  The software was central to running the entire business and the new version had lots of bugs and customer service was affected to the point that it tanked an entire Christmas season of sales and took years to recover.

Greatest Success:  Philip cites his daughters as his primary greatest success, but also takes great pride in keeping American Science & Surplus a fun place to work and one where quality of life remains important.  Employees want to come to work and they enjoy what they do.

What Makes Philip Crazy:  Apathy.  It’s almost impossible to work with employees, vendors or customers who just do not care.

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