Shaw Box Crane

Another Icon May Be Gone.

My hometown paper had a story about another manufacturing icon that is making adjustments. Shaw Box Crane has been in existence since 1891 in the town I grew up in. The plant is on the west end of Broadway, the main street through town. On the east end was Bennet Pumps, in between….Campbell Foundry, Norge Refrigerators, Browne-Morse Lab Equipment and a few others. Folks in those days….walked to work. Most families had only one car….some had none. Life revolved around the plant and the neighborhood.

shaw-boxShaw Box makes industrial cranes and hoists. These last for years. And more than than likely are made in other countries. Cranes and hoists are the mainstays of manufacturing plants. So when the economy is making adjustments….the market changes for these products. I would hope that Shaw Box will be able to continue in Muskegon Heights. As an economy we need a viable manufacturing base. Yet, we also need to adapt to a changing world. Businesses and communities have to recognize change and respond to that.

Here in North Carolina….a little over 20 years ago….tobacco, textiles, and furniture were the major industries. Now it is banking, computers, pharmaceuticals.

The question is: maybe those also have reached the peak of their their life cycle.

2-curve-2-life-cycleBusinesses/organiztions always have to be recreating their life-cycles….as one peaks….a new one emerges.

Pay Attention

Do the work-Earn the results

attentionI would hope that people (businesses) pay attention. I often wonder whether they really do. I was with a small manufacturing company after our move to North Carolina. I saw my job was not only to help mange the business….but also to pay attention to other factors that could have an impact on what we did. I needed to become more knowledgeable about the industry….competitors….and potential new markets.

Recently two issues got my attention.

  • A non-profit that I have mentioned in the past asked their new leader….what were the plans for growing? The answer: I have none! What? These folks are in dire straits with declining numbers both in people and finances. Yet have no strategy to reverse the situation. Obviously someone isn’t paying attention. There are great ideas available….they need to accept and use them.
  • A recent article in my home town paper: Mayors stress need for job creation. This has been going on for years. In Michigan….it seems every community wanted the next Toyota plant. There’s a concept that has gained momentum over the years on growing businesses in a local community. Yet these mayors must think that jobs will magically appear. They need to pay attention what is working and integrate that into the communities.  Chris Gibbons in Littleton, Co has been the evangelist for economic gardening….and Littleton has seen the long term results.

Lesson Learned: Every day pay attention.

A New Day

Retail also allows–no, requires–continuous reinvention. Actors and actresses will tell you that every audience is different. So is every day in the classroom, restaurant, or surgical suite. –Tom Peters

sunrise-new-dayI still look forward to every new day. It must be from my retail days. Every day was something different. Of course there were some days that were not bright and sunshiny….15 inches of snow….trucks in for repair….special orders delayed.

Yet….even today….each day brings something new.

I suspect that everyone has seen the lady from Scotland on the You Tube video.  Isn’t it great that we discover something different….better…..inspiring every day. Everyone is in some sort of business or organization. If we can find something different or extraordinary to make our enterprises better than each day is a new day. If we are unwilling to recognize change or another way of doing something….than we ought to reconsider what we do.

Examine the power of You Tube!


The 1 to 1 Future

BB&T: Relationship

1-1-bookIn 1993, Martha Rogers and Don Peepers came out with a book on marketing. Ideas that were considerably different from the standard marketing taught in business schools.

Their focus was on building a strong relationship with each individual customer and by so doing could develop a lifetime value for that customer.

Shortly after the book came out I had an opportunity to hear Martha Rodgers and was convinced that their ideas were an entirely new, different and better way to relate to customers. Some of the mega banks should follow this model!

In today’s N &O  there was a story about a banker in Wilson, NC. For the most part, banking was different in small-town North Carolina as it was in other small towns across America. It was a story about a banker with BB&T that conducted his banking on a real 0ne-to-one foundation .  The quote that caught my attention:

” He built relationships and he got to help people.”

At some point every business transaction….every encounter with another person….if we are really in business for the long term comes down to a relationship and a desire to help someone. If that isn’t the case….you should not be in business!


A New Roof

roof-shinglesWe have decided to stay in our home for the next few years….and make it as maintenance free as possible. So a new roof and siding are in order. Not a small investment as we have come to find out. I know a little about roofs….that helps. There are three major roof shingle manufacturers in the US….Certainteed….GAF….Owens-Corning and from the estimates all are similar in product, price and style (3-tab and dimensional).

I have received four  estimates. Guess what? They are all within a few hundred dollars of each other. In fact….the selling is not even centered around the product. Each estimate stated we can pick any brand….it doesn’t matter. What should make  the difference than is how the roof shingles are installed… how the courses are layed out. Hand nailing….how many nails, etc. How many years in business. Yet all of that is similar also in each of the four estimates.

story-tellingWhat I think will help us make a final decision is how well each contractor tells their story.

In fact….I read this today….”we are all all storytellers at the root of every job we have. “

In looking back over the years, while my product and/or service had to very good….it was how I told the story about myself and the product. People bought my story first and product second. If they believed in our sincerity, values,  and honesty…we got the sale.

All we have have to do now in deciding on  a roof is to determine which contractor is the best storyteller!


Green Thinking

In the latest Global Province newsletter, greenfield  projects, was a term to describe new challenges unburdened by old concepts, tired practices, angreenfieldd outdated models. The result  however, is that nothing turns out very green, because the managers/leaders  of a new activity carry huge amounts of beat-up mental baggage which they deposit in every new project.   The newsletter further stated that  green thinking is what  we need now, whether we are planting trees or recreating our financial institutions.

In discovering outstanding gems….there’s always a dilemma, because there are some businesses/organizations that have been around for years and do very well. Yet there are others, that can no longer compete or survive. Blockbuster being a company that is increasingly less relevant because Netflix has a better model of delivering movies.

What I see is whether a company has been around for 50 years or is a greenfied project….they understand the customer….deliver a superior product….and are willing to adapt if necessary.

Manhole Covers


Granted…. manhole covers don’t sound exciting! Manhole covers have traditionally been made of cast-iron….and been in existence for more than a hundred years. Every city has manholes….the estimate is 200 million in the United States alone.

gmi-manholeGMI Composites in Muskegon, MI makes manhole covers. Not cast-iron, but in composite materials. GMI use to be called the button factory.  It was started in the 1920’s making buttons!  Over the years, the company has evolved into manufacturing moulded composite products. The plant isn’t very striking….yet here is a relatively small company that has taken a very ordinary product and made it better and different….in so doing creating a new market!