The Millionaire Next Door

Are Toll Collectors on Your Prospect List?

RE: Toll Collectors on the George Washington Bridge

According to the Wall Street Journal,

. . . some toll collectors make more than $100,000 [annually with overtime]

This is the equivalent of more than two and one half times what the typical American worker earns.   But toll collectors are not the only blue collar high income producers in America, not by a long shot.  Based upon my research  cited in my first book, Marketing to the Affluent:

One of my favorite blue collar [affluent occupations] is that of materials handler. [Materials handling-supervisors, handlers, including crane operators and laborers].  As a side note, captains/officers of fishing vessels and auctioneers also made my top 15 list.

I also cited a New York Times article that profiled a crane operator who worked on a skyscraper in Manhattan.  He earned $308,651 in one year.  But he wasn’t the most highly compensated crane operator; he would have to earn over $400,000 to have that distinction.  High income producing materials handlers/crane operators may be looked upon by some as low on the socioeconomic scale.  This is especially true among many white collar workers who pass by construction sites on their lunch hour.  But what if these workers knew that some of those crane operators probably earn more than 90% of the people who work in their office buildings? 

Materials handlers and many skilled high altitude iron workers are a great market for high quality work suits.  You will often find them, especially in the cold weather months, wearing the legendary Filson brand of tin cloth pants ($170) including leather binding; tin cloth parka (XL) ($330), and accompanying chaps ($160).  Tin cloth is considered the toughest of the tough. 

Many people misjudge both the income and wealth characteristics of others based on their occupational status and the clothes they wear to work!  What is ironic, especially in large cities where these material handlers work, is that they are ignored as prospects by fund raisers for noble causes and for investment services marketed by financial consultants, asset managers, etc.   I can imagine hundreds, possibly thousands, of these marketers leaving their offices every day totally frustrated because they spent yet another day prospecting highly compensated white collar workers who live way beyond their means.  As a result, these prospects have little or nothing to invest or donate. 

Conversely, the domestic overhead requirements of highly compensated materials handlers are only a fraction of those for people who have high occupational status.  

3 thoughts on “Are Toll Collectors on Your Prospect List?”

  1. Even when one intellectually understands the concept that the correlation between outward appearances and real wealth is quite low, it can still be hard to overcome the instinct to judge others by appearances in our daily interactions. Thanks for sharing examples such as these to help keep a better perspective on others and life.

  2. I’ve lived in TEXAS most of my life and work in the heavy construction division. Most people I work with including crane operators and Ironworkers make anywhere from 100k to 150k per year. And we work in a non-union site and company.

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