The Coconut King: From the ruins, success

Here’s a story of encouragement for all who face the destruction of a treasured dream. It’s also the story of resurrection, literally from the debris left over when the dream failed.

When I first met Gilbert Finesilver years ago, all he could talk about was this idea he had for whipping up frozen desserts and shipping them overnight to clients and restaurants throughout the land. These would be specialty sorbets and other frozen delights, delivered in coconut shells.

When Gilbert went off to tackle this business venture, we all cheered him on.

Skip forward a year or so.

The next time I heard from Gilbert the venture had flopped — the logistics were impossible, keeping the desserts chilled was difficult, getting them to their destination without mishap was dicey, costs overran income.

As he succinctly sums up now: “It was more pain than it was really worth.”

If you’ve ever begun a business venture or a dream you’ve harbored, you can feel for Gilbert. The difficulties are great. Success is not guaranteed, no matter the effort.

So there Gilbert was, the dream venture in ruins, left with a garage full of coconut shells.

For the fun of it, let’s just skip ahead to the end 

Gilbert now runs a successful business from out of his home office. (Getting to the end quickly feels good, eh?)

He now says:

“It’s a blessing.”

“I’m so fortunate. I do it out of my house.”

“Now I’m generally done by 2 every day, after FedEx comes.”

Back to the middle, if you care

Faced with a garage full of coconut half shells taunting him every day, Gilbert decided to put up a simple one-page website to see if he could sell off all his coconut shells.

The very first order was for 50,000 coconut shells! Far beyond what he had. Suddenly, Gilbert Finesilver became The Coconut King, supplying quality coconut shells to restaurants and businesses throughout the land.

Not that it was easy. He went through various suppliers and distribution hurdles — but here he is now, living the life he’d hoped for in an easier way than he’d even imagined when he started.

Can you imagine the hard work and logistics and employees and fulfillment that would have been called for on a daily basis if his original idea had somehow sputtered above the break-even point. It would have been arduous, day in, day out. And Gilbert’s a Florida boy — all that working with frozen items would have taken their toll in freezer burns.

Since then Gilbert has branched out into other natural, related products — keeping it simple. Things like coconut shell drinking cups . . . and bamboo straws for environmentally-safe drinking on beaches and other public spaces.

(He got this idea while on vacation and they wouldn’t give him and his wife straws for their drinks on the beach, because they could harm the beach creatures.)

I love Gilbert’s story, because it shows there are opportunities unimagined, even in the destruction of a dream.

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