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“Wake Up To Wealth”

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The Birth of Knoll House Interforum
by
Joseph Wilson Stevens

Looking back now I remember how during the early 80s I read in a business opportunities paper about a company trading as Knoll House Arts Limited. They were offering for sale a fine range of original oil paintings on original canvases of top quality.

After making telephone contact with them, I arranged a meeting at their business headquarters at Knoll House, Huddersfield. A truly beautiful original house, created on the former site of three country cottages and their outbuildings.

This I learned later had been planned by the owner Reginald Gee and built using local builders skilled in working in Yorkshire stone. At this time Reg as I was asked to refer to him after our first meeting, he was in his 40's, an entrepreneur and already a millionaire when the word meant something.

Reg met me at the railway station and drove me in one of his Rolls Royce's, he had acquired three by this time, a Shadow model as I recall. He also owned a beautiful Silver Cloud, his pride and joy, and a drop-head Corniche. It would be true to say that we hit it off together from the start and remain very firm friends to this day, almost family.

Having spent many years in the selling profession I had no difficulty in realising the potential market for the quality paintings I was shown. During my visit I purchased some of these lovely paintings on quality canvasses and had them mounted in solid wood gilded frames of antique design, supplied by Knoll House Arts Limited at wholesale price. These I sold on return to London, without difficulty and showing a very fine profit margin. They were well received and further orders taken. During my overnight stay, Reg explained to me his plans for finding more agents by conducting a series of introductory seminars on a country-wide basis. These were to be held in conference rooms of top grade hotels. It was decided to hold the first seminar in the early spring of 1983 to which Reg kindly invited me to attend as guest speaker.

Joe addressing seminar deligates

It was to be my pleasure to explain to those attending the business opportunity we were about to present them with from Knoll House Arts Limited and Reginald Gee. This would be an opportunity to open a door to a brighter future enabling them to aspire to a much greater level of success, as an entrepreneur rather than holding down the mundane job and all the lack of freedom that went with it.

Following this seminar, Reg and I dined privately and I was thrilled to be invited to attend as Resident Toastmaster and part-time speaker. Having studied the results of previous seminars, Reg had concluded that many of those attending were not reaching the levels of success that he knew was within their capabilities.

At this point, he adapted the name "Mr Salesmanship" and following the lunch-break he devoted the first hour, speaking to them as only he can! He showed by example that it was up to them to grasp the opportunity and to point out that no-one can do it for them, and to realise literally the potential fortune laying ahead of them.

Seminars of this type continued successfully for almost two years, and one fact emerged, overall to Reg, that was that a lot of the people attending these seminars were doing so simply to take part and be inspired by the “Mr Salesmanship” element of the meeting. Members attending were steadily increasing and it became obvious that it would be advantageous to all to hold future meetings at a venue more suitable to all, bearing in mind travelling distances involved.

The first of these new venues was the Yew Lodge Hotel, chosen because of its location near Ashbourne, close to the M1 motorway, one of the advantages being the excellent parking facilities available, plus refreshments and catering.

During this time, because of the popularity of the motivational classes, Reg was under pressure involving meetings with a publisher and other dignitaries, even politicians. By this time he had decided to edit more books regarding other business venture with which he had been involved, without exception they proved popular and generated his growth as a publisher. Readers of these books felt a desire to meet the author.

As a result a new seminar was arranged entitled “Meet Mr Salesmanship”. Reg and I spoke at great length in order to determine the correct format for this new seminar. He planned not only to review the business opportunities we had presented over the past years, but the importance of pinpointing the rubbish ‘Get rich quick schemes’ which are even now strangling the sincerely thought out genuine business opportunities that are available.

Reg invited me to act as Guest Speaker from seminar 1, to which I happily agreed. It seemed that our personalities had gelled from our first meeting. What we aim to provide from the outset was a relaxed atmosphere for all present, allowing them to absorb the atmosphere of the day.

Experience of speaking to people over the years I had been involved in the selling business, had taught me to expect attention from the audience only if there were a minimum distraction and some sort of rapport. With this in mind we adopted a new strategy. At the opening of the seminar I would ask each person in attendance to be kind enough to stand up, give us his or her name, where they were from, and briefly what they were employed as at present, or if they were self-employed.

This arrangement went down very well. On every occasion each person was politely applauded as they sat down after their introductory remarks. The atmosphere changed as if by magic, where before we had seen nervous reactions amongst strangers, suddenly, everyone knew the name and background of the person sitting next to them. Gone was the coolness and the very British quiet reserve.

During the introductions, Reg meanwhile was making mental notes at the back of the room to tailor his opening speech accordingly.

In all the years I have known him, it has never ceased to amaze me how quickly he can relate to any audience and gain their immediate interest. He has a God given gift for rapport due in no small measure to his no nonsense approach, his relaxed appearance and his lovely unadulterated Yorkshire accent. Explaining in his own sincere way, what he would like others to achieve and that his wish was to help them to do just that. The audience invariably pay full attention and it pleases me to see their reactions. He always ended the seminars to real enthusiastic applause.

Joseph Stevens

Many returned home feeling motivated, possibly for the first time in their lives, and used the knowledge acquired to increase their income to a comfortable level. Others returned home inspired with ‘the will to succeed’ that sorts the men from the boys and went on to become household names in their chosen field.

Let me mention here that Reg was a very wealthy man when we first met, over 20 years ago when he was then in his forties. He could have retired then, but that is not his scene. His real buzz in life comes from enabling others to enhance their lives and to find success. He is held in great esteem by many of those he has helped over the years. This is evident from the many cards and greetings he receives regularly.

A series of unfortunate events occurred some years ago that saddened all of us who are privileged to be his friend. One of such was that his twenty year marriage came to end which coincided with a serious illness. This all lead to his Doctor forcing him into retirement. He is now fully recovered. It is his wish to return to do what he enjoys best. The travelling seminars are now back to being top priority as associate members grow.

Now, together with his son Stephen, Reginald Gee is in the process of creating a new format, to be known as Knoll House Interforum and utilising the wonderful world of modern technology. Websites will be presented in order that once again the whole world now will be able to enjoy publications, meetings and even a special club. A forum which will be run by dedicated people, more concerned with the progress of the membership than mere profit as the end product. Let the wagons roll Reg!!! As they say in the Western Movies, which I know to be a favourite of yours.

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