California Real Estate Professional Honed Sales Skills While Selling Knives in College

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CARLSBAD, CA – Carlton Lund had no idea his desire to purchase a brand new Mustang in 1969 would propel him on a journey that would be instrumental in him becoming one of California’s leading real estate professionals and a model for civic involvement.

As a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, he was finishing up his junior year and began scanning the want ads for a summer job. Lund interviewed for a position with the Amity Leather Billfold Company, but didn’t get the job.

“Then I saw an ad in the newspaper for a sales job, selling knives for a company called Cutco,” he recalls. “I went in for the interview with the manager, Jerry Otteson, who painted a picture of a summer job with flexibility, unlimited earning potential, and the opportunity to sell what I learned to be the finest kitchen cutlery in the world.”

Within days, Lund learned the basics of how to sell these products, face-to-face with husbands and wives in their homes. He sharpened his presentation skills, learned to tactfully ask for leads, and then – demonstration kit in hand – went on to become one of the leading independent sales reps for this direct sales company.

By the end of the summer, Lund headed back to college with a brand new Ford Mustang that replaced the $100 1959 Edsel and enough money to pay tuition for a year. That summer he earned about $3,000 and learned the basics of sales and how to be an entrepreneur.

Today, Lund is president and owner of the Lund Team, one of San Diego’s leading independent residential real estate companies that has sold properties in excess of $2.5 billion dollars since 1982.

“When I first met with Mr. Otteson I was intrigued by his enthusiasm for selling knives,” he said. “He was Mr. Positive. But he explained to me that this opportunity was about much more than selling knives. It was about pushing yourself to be the best you can every day and that with the proper mind-set you can do anything.”

These were positive messages for a young college student trying to find his way in the world.

For more than 60 years, Cutco Corporation and its sales division, Vector Marketing, have been honing the skills of young entrepreneurs – some who make a career with the company as sales reps and managers and others who use the experience as a stepping stone to other endeavors.

Those skills include:

  • Making presentations
  • Time management
  • Customer service
  • Teamwork
  • Goal setting

“Probably more important is that it taught me that if you work hard and smart you’ll have success,” he said. “It all starts with a positive attitude.”

The other appealing aspect of selling Cutco is that its cutlery products are manufactured in the small western New York state city of Olean.

“Even back then, I had a great deal of pride selling something that was Made in America,” he said. “Today, that feature is even more impressive considering that the manufacturing sector in the United States has fallen upon hard times.”

Lund also learned the value of family and mentorship through his experience with Cutco. Today, his family-owned business thrives on mentorship, teamwork, and customer service – all hallmarks of Cutco and Vector Marketing.

Another benefit Lund experienced was that of fierce loyalty to the community where he works and lives.

Cutco is now one of the few kitchen cutlery manufacturers in the United States, and Jim Stitt, CEO and President, is proud to be Made In America and invites questions as to why his company remains domestic while many others are now making product overseas.

“Because it is the right thing to do – for our people, our customers, and for rural western New York State,” said Stitt.

“If we were manufactured overseas, it would take months and we would run the risk of compromising customer loyalty since deliveries would be delayed. We can also oversee all aspects of production. While high quality can be reached with overseas manufacturing, at Cutco we see the benefits of having levels of control in terms of inventory, fulfillment, and, of course, providing quality employment.

“In addition, we manufacture in Olean because of our commitment to the people of this area,” he adds. “For more than six decades, the community has provided an outstanding workforce, and for that we are grateful. More than 700 employees work here today and hundreds more have during our history.

“Social responsibility is something we take seriously, and always have. We believe one of our responsibilities as a business is to make a positive impact on the world around us. This has become an important thread in the fabric of our corporate culture.”

That philosophy has certainly rubbed off on Lund, who was recently elected City of Carlsbad Citizen of the Year and has served as the Chairman of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

“In many ways, selling Cutco is like selling the America Dream,” added Lund. “We use our knives every day and I’m proud to have them sitting on my kitchen counter. But even more important are the values and skills I learned from this company more than four decades ago.”