The Modest Businessman

Kim Nelson, Guest Writer

 

He directs his players as he directed his employees, with poise and promise. A promise of success through hard work and a poise that projects a man of wisdom. Jim Peterson, former CEO of Shear Precision, Inc., and current head coach of Saint Martin’s University softball program, is the man, the myth, and the legend as his players admiringly state. The 2017-2018 season is Peterson’s first as a head coach, chalking up nearly 15 years of experience with teams and schools such as University of Las Vegas and the Canadian Olympic team as an assistant coach. He also balanced his time off the field as the owner of Shear Precision, Inc., a wholesale distribution company in the cutlery and scissor field. Though his team looks fondly upon him as a quiet yet empowering mentor, Coach Peterson wasn’t always the successful businessman his players know so well.

Softball had come naturally to Peterson, while the businessman role took a bit longer to achieve. Peterson, a graduate of Central Washington University, finished with a degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing. He worked for several large corporations before deciding to put his degree to work and start his own business. This endeavor would be one of the best business and life decisions he would ever make.

In 1997, before many of his current players were even born, Peterson began a small business as a sharpener. One day, a man came in with incredibly unique scissors that even Peterson hadn’t seen before. They were Kai brand, a Japan-based scissor company. Out of curiosity, Peterson contacted the Japanese Kai company to inquire about distributing in the U.S. With the rest of his savings and a vision, Peterson launched his scissor distribution company.

Over the entirety of Peterson’s position as owner and president of Shear Precision Inc, he increased and expanded the product line. Sales continued to grow every year and satisfied customers began to spread the word. The scissor and cutlery quality were a major selling feature.  Peterson proudly stated, “It’s incredible to look back at my company when it did not have a name or even one dollar in sales. Growing the company into a national distribution company took a lot of work but was worth every minute of my time.”

Not only did Peterson have a stake in the industrial scissor market, but in one of the most amusing stories I’ve heard, he had a hold on the internet side as well. “I had forty different URLS, but I had so many I just squatted on them. The internet was so new back then that I could buy a URL and then just keep them,” Peterson said, laughing to himself. Peterson had so many different URLs collected, that typing anything like kaiscissors.com or scissorskai.com or precisionscissorkai.com, would bring up Peterson’s page. With the help of a webpage designer, Peterson’s website took off and Internet sales continued to increase. The vision to generate online sales was a huge factor in the success of the business.

In 2015, Peterson decided he wanted to retire while he was still young enough to enjoy it. He sold his company and went back to his other passion of coaching softball. Peterson was hired to assist at his alma matter CWU. That first year, the Wildcats had their best season in school history, advancing to the super regional playoffs. Then, as luck would have it, Peterson landed on the Saint Martin’s University campus the following year and was promoted to the top dog position in 2017.

Peterson brought in a new coaching staff, new players, and a philosophy that his girls could latch on to and run with. Second baseman and senior Paige Miller said this about her new head coach: “It’s almost bittersweet to think that my last year is truly my best year. To be able to play under a coach who not only knows the game but truly cares for the players he’s coaching is absolutely amazing. I just wish it had happened a little sooner so I could sit back and enjoy it.” The ladies under Coach Peterson have a new motivation that many of them didn’t know existed till now.

Junior pitcher Lauren Maley said it best, “Coach P has really opened my eyes to how the game can be played and should be played. It’s so fun to get to experience a philosophy and a way of playing like this. And no, we don’t pitch and tell.” Though the secret to their success is under wraps, it’s fair to say that the girls on the team have fully bought in to Peterson’s way of running the squad.

As my interview came to a close Peterson had this to say, “Following your passion and dreams to create your own destiny should be an inspiring message to everyone. Hopefully by sharing my experience it will help motivate my current student athletes to have their own vision of the American dream. With hard work comes success and becoming an expert in whatever your field is will dramatically increase those chances.”

I think Peterson is right. People need to be inspired enough to want to be something better than what they already are. Whether that be following a business venture or giving back to the community you live in, bettering yourself can come in many forms. Peterson did it, succeeded and is now inspiring his athletes to do the same. While Peterson continues to direct his players and inspire his athletes, one thing is sure, he still won’t tell us how much he really has. “Just so you know, they still owe me money,” Peterson says with a smile.

CAPTION: Peterson pictured with senior first baseman Tessani Dixon. He has a habit of playing practical jokes on the players of the team. Here’s one instance where he does the old tap on the shoulder routine.

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