Hush Puppies

Wolverine World Wide

Thirty years ago I did consulting work for Greenwich Research Associates….Wolverine World Wide was one of the companies I visited. In those days there were many Fortune 500 companies in outstate (outside of Detroit) Michigan and I had the opportunity to visit most of them.

Hush Puppies….a casual suede shoe became synonymous with Wolverine World Wide (WWW).

WWW recently announced a new line of footwear. For companies like WWW, developing new products is the key to longevity. Hush Puppies alone would not have sustained the business. Plus – they are still headquartered in Rockford, MI. 

7-S Model

Tom Peters – McKinsey 7-S

One of the disappointments in the Michigan Business School was not having read Peter Drucker and Tom Peters. Their prominence came later after my bus school days. My time at the Business school was mostly focused on operations stuff. What makes a business really successful….leadership….talent was off the radar screen.

Tom Peters (and Peter Drucker) are probably the most influential business/organizational thinkers in today’s environment. Yet I suspect many organziations are not overly influenced by their work. There are other influencers of course….however I have only four that are on my blogroll.

Peters was one of the originators of the 7-S model. It may appear academic….yet if leaders/managers are willing to examine and learn its intention and reason and execute the model….it will help create it a great business.

Here is what Peters recently wrote about the 7-S model. See the 03.08.2011 dispatch:

Hindsight is nice. I believe I did apply the model to the businesses/organizations in my work….though not all of it….all the time. We had a good family business….it would have been even better if we had used the 7-S model.

In my experience, 7-S is much more than an academic exercise.

Fish Fry

A Better Way

In the midwest, fish fries are a big deal….they are community events….fund raisers….and most importantly tasty (lake perch being the fish of choice).

Breading the fish is labor intensive. Not so for Gene Helsen in Ravenna, MI. The story below is a great example of doing something better. Perhaps there is a market for fish breaders.

The real story is that someone has the ability to develop (and innovate) a process that has been done only one way for a long time. The world has become very competetive….this is how we compete.


Use Them Well

Tricia called today from the Home Center and asked if we would be a reference for one of their products.


Of course we would be happy to be a reference.

References are a good tool….yet they have to be real and credible….and not overused.

One of the best marketing strategies has been “word of mouth”.

Word of mouth beats most anything.

JJ + Sales

Seaway Appliance

Last year we bought three major Whirlpool appliances from Lowes’s. We received a good price….Dave at Lowe’s was a stellar sales associate….Lowe’s even replaced one of the appliances….overall a fair transaction.

Unfortunately, in Cary there is no local appliance retailer. There is at least needs to be a strong local retailer….like Seaway Appliances in Muskegon, MI (Muskegon – 1/2 the size in Cary).

Why? Because at the core of any business is the sales side. JJ at Seaway Appliance has been in appliance sales for more than 40 years….not full time now….yet still in the store on weekends. He knows applinaces….remembers names and most importantly sells the products.

Sales for many be unglamorus….however without sales….there is no business. Most businesses/organization have a product, service or belief that needs to be sold to a customer.

Every business needs a JJ (or Dave).

10 Pins (Bowling)

Bowling Balls and Pin Boys

A good friend started out setting bowling pins just like in the photo. Bob was 14 when he set the pins at NK Alleys in downtown Muskegon. Eventually he became the owner of a 40 alley bowling center.

Now bowling is certainly a mature business. Yet….bowling made a significant change when the automatic pinsetter was developed and later automated scoring. While there is no longer the need for the lads setting pins….bowling centers continue to evolve.

Muskegon is also the headquarters for Brunswick Bowling….one of the two manufactures of bowling lanes and equipment (AMF being the other). Though there is no longer manufacturing in Muskegon….Brunswick Bowling is continuing to redefine bowling as a recreational activity with four business models for bowling centers:

  • Traditional lanes
  • Family entertainment
  • Boutique
  • Hybrid

Bowling will always the same (throwing the ball….knocking down pins)

The change (like pin boys to automatic pinsetters) is creating new ways to deliver the product to the customer.

Northway Lanes – Muskegon

Galco Soda Pop Shop

Specialty Market

Unique business finds are intriging….discovering them is like finding a prize in a Cracker Jack box.

Galco Soda Pop Shop is one of those prizes. Galco is located in Los Angeles and sells….Soda Pop….not the usual Coke or Pepsi….but unusal brands and flavors from independent bottlers.

Not every market could support a Soda Pop shop….yet Galco works because it specializes in more than 500 varieties of soda (also beer and candies).

Outstanding businesses are those that are the very best at what they do….it appears that Galco Soda Pop Shop is a proven example of this.

Note: The website is incomplete – many of the products have ” image coming soon” notations. Being a business on the internet means also as being good as in the store itself. Don’t skimp on the website.