Chapter 9: A Young Team

Wilbur Fenelon Young III and Donald Smith were in the boardroom, sleeves rolled up, deep in conversation. Late afternoon sun filtered through the blinds, casting striped shadows across the advertising mockups arrayed on the table.

“Well, Don, what do you think?” Bill asked as he walked to the doorway and flipped on the overhead florescent lights.

Smith blinked in the sudden brightness and refocused on the ads.

“This SuperShine one is really good. Excellent copy. I like the informal tone combined with the … hmmm …” Don struggled to find the right word.

“The touch of authority?” Bill asked, looking down at the ad with arms crossed and head cocked, as though he’d never seen it before.

“Yeah, the bit about legginess. That’s a nice touch,” Don nodded. “It gently demonstrates that we know our stuff without —“

“Without coming off as the wrong kind of authority, right? Not know-it-all, or too heavy handed. Kind of a we-love-this-stuff-too, tone?” Bill asked.

“Yup. Exactly. And the voice, it’s informal. Friendly. Very modern. I like it a lot. Not to mention that photo sells the heck out of the product.”

“Agreed. It’s a good one. So, we can approve that one with no changes.”

Bill sat and Don stacked the ads and set them aside before pulling out his own chair.

“Next. How are we looking for the regulatory meeting next week, Don?” Bill asked. Have you had a look at this beast yet?”

“Oh, yeah. We’re getting close, I think. See what you think.”

For the next hour the two men sat across from each other, reading through pages of proposed EPA and FDA regulations they were helping to craft. Occasionally, Bill would grunt and push a page across the table, tapping a paragraph with his pen. Don would scan it and respond with a cryptic remark like, “Yup. You’re right.” Or, “I see what you mean.”

The two men had been working together for decades. Donald had originally been intensely involved in the formulation and improvement of Absorbine equine products. The depth of his scientific knowledge was vast, and as Bill had relied upon him in the lab, Don quickly became indispensible in other parts of the company — bringing not just good science, but a strong work ethic and keen business sense to everything he handled. He’d become a right hand to Bill and the two had developed their own way of communicating, a sometimes wordless shorthand.

Bill Young’s leadership, with Don Smith’s help, had brought about the expansion of the equine product line, but more important, had promoted the company and its products in a big way. Bill was a believer that with teamwork, the W. F. Young Company could get anything done. And thanks to his keen sense of marketing and messaging, Absorbine’s equine products, in particular, had more market presence than ever before. Bill would sometimes quote Sally Young, his aunt and former co-President, who was fond of saying, “Always leave them thinking you’re bigger than you are.”

As another era at W.F. Young company came to an end, Bill had established a presence for the business and its products that was larger than ever. Soon, though, Don Smith would have to help the next generation carry the reputation forward, while reimagining its business model.

Find the complete series on the history of Absorbine® here!

W.F. Young, Inc. is a marketer of many top equine brands, including ShowSheen® Hair Polish and Detangler, UltraShield® Insecticide and Repellant, Hooflex® and Horseman’s One Step® Leather Cleaner and Conditioner.