Just an Observation

Gifts & Money

We went to a Greek Festival last weekend….plenty of food….Greek music/dancing and a scattering of booths….selling an assortment of trinket type gifts. The emphasis was on the food and the fund raising from the sponsoring organization.

It seems like there are several Greek festivals throughout the year….and the same gift vendors probably participate in them. They of course are not fund raising….this is a business for them.

The observation is this: The products are ordinary….though some related to Greek-type products. Price mark-ups are high. Bartering is OK. I suppose some folks enjoy doing this….and some people buy….mostly impulse….caught up in the moment.

Are these booths really worth the effort?….from a buyers view are these products that worthwile….especially when a sign proclaims – All Sales Final.


Constant Change

Best Buy was expected to do very well after Circuit City closed. That has not been the case. While concentrating on fairly large stores….Best Buy has been impacted by on-line retailers….especially in electronic sales.

Best Buy may not be the best buy….Amazon has it….other reputable on-line retailers also.

Best Buys strategy has to be one of adapting to a changing business model. Electronics are easily compared and bought on the Internet….appliances a different story.

Best Buy to survive must adapt….otherwise it may be on the Circuit City path.

Sunnyland Farms

Pecans – Plain & Fancy

In the mail was the annual Sunnyland Farms Pecans Catalog….along with other appealling nuts….fruits….cakes….candies. We receive the catalog every year and it’s a great reading experience.

The products of course look outstanding….pecans being the star attraction. What make the catalog unique are the stories of the Willson family….the company….and the employees woven throughout the catalog.

Not only are you buying the products…..you are buying the company experience. In a encompassing way….the customer is brought into the whole process.

I have yet to purchase from Sunnyland….though the pecans and cashews look very enticing.

The take-a-way: A family company (63 yrs.) with excellent products and superior marketing (mail order catalog).



Change Again

Reinvent….a often used “buzz” word in business transformation. How many times do managers say that they have to reinvent the business?

Yet….reinventing is necessary in today’s economies. Apple reinvented itself from the Apple 2….Macintosh….to the iMac….and i-Products. Polaroid and Kodak  had to change directions.

The last post on 50 years in business (what if)….was a story of our business that would have had to change if we were to have been a strong business over a 50 year period. The competition changed….the market had to be expanded….so in many ways we would to have reinvented ourselves.

In the case of the family business….the core values (people….customers….products) would provide the foundation for a continuous process to get better.

Whether it’s change….reinvention….transformation –

The fundamental strategy is to get better….be exceptional.

50 Years

What If

2011 would have been our 50th year in business. Our family business was founded in 1961 in a small rented building….I entered the business in 1968.

I often wondered what it would be like if I had stayed in the business….what would I have done to make it to a 50 year anniversary?

Muskegon County has grown somewhat….though only 1 or2 % a year (current pop. 174,000).

Some thoughts on what if:

  • Evolve into a complete home center
  • Expand market area to West Michigan
  • Develop a superb management team
  • Divest ownership to the folks that help grow the business
  • Continue in the family….eventually phase out
  • Maximize the culture of employee care and customer care
  • Develop strong supplier relationships
  • Over deliver and under promise
  • Protect the brand name.
  • Enhance product / service guarantee
  • Solidify community presence

There are more specific ideas and would have the family wanted to stay in the business….I often wonder.

House of Chan

60 Years

The House of Chan (HoC) is no longer. The Muskegon Chronicle reported that Joe Chan has closed the restaurant that has been a fixture in Muskegon for over 60 years.

I may have visited Joe’s restaurant once or twice….after it moved to our part of town….it just wasn’t part of our dining out venues.

The Chronicle repoted that HoC closed because of the economy. I would guess that there are a couple of other reasons.

  • While the economy is a challnege….other restaurants open….HoC more than likely need a reinvention.
  • There may not have been a new family generation to take over.

We started our business in 1961….if we had continued in Muskegon….it would have been 50 years for us.

60 years is a good run….House of Chan was a Muskegon institution….yet change takes place.