We lived in San Bernardino, CA (Norton AFB) for a four-year period in the early 60’s. San Bernardino was the center of citrus (orange) agricultural. When the orange trees were in blossom….the scent was quite pronounced.

Steve Heimoff wrote:

But then, Napa Valley is in California, and one of the state’s purest expressions of our weltanschauung, which is: ferment, reinvention, change, evolution, radical transformation. These always have marked the Golden State, and I hope they always will.

The reference is to the wine industry….yet could be applied to the Silicon Valley.

California also has always been at the forefront of developing new ideas….more than likely because it is the most populous state. So it was nice to have the California experience orange blossoms and all.

Big Birdie

The Game of Golf

There is always someone to create something different. This time it’s Big Birdie Golf. Big Birdie and Dreamcatcher Boatworks were featured in a Grand Rapids, MI tv story about small businesses.

Big Birdie Golf has created an entertaining game…. pitching the birdie golf balls into a scoring net….it’s different. The tv story mentioned that there were eight people making and selling Big Birdie products.

The real success will come if Big Birdie creates more sustainable products and brings those products to market.

Dreamcatcher Boatworks is a craft-type business….perhaps not with the greater potential of Big Birdie Golf….yet a nice small business.


What Really Counts

About once a week attached to our mailbox are postcards….flyers….business cards that advertise some type of home repair….painting….tree removal service.

Most of these folks have a generic name….the latest being “5 Star Service”. They usually have only a phone number and some not even a real location. How many jobs do they get from this marketing strategy? I would suspect very few.

A business’s name is it’s brand….something to be proud of….and something that takes time to develop.

Most people want to know who they are dealing with. For the most part they prefer a real name rather than 5 Star.

Art Van

New Idea? Better Idea?

Art Van is a large furniture retailer in Michigan. Starting in the Detroit area and expanding to larger Michigan cities….it has become the major furniture chain in the state.

Art Van recently announced that it would start to franchise dealers in smaller cities….of course to expand its market. The advantages are many to a smaller furniture business….brand name….inventory….financing.

Like many local busineeses….furniture stores have been independent retailers. Many times,  family businesses….and for the most part well-established local brands.

There is an Art Van in Muskegon….though they bought out the largest local store. In our time, there were ten plus local dealers….not the case anymore.

The question: Will a strong  independent store want to become a franchisee of Art Van? I don’t think we would have done that….our independence and name recognition built up over the years would have outweighed the franchise advantages.

Something Else

What if the product is boring, someone asks…

Well, you get to decide what you make. If you’re entering a competitive field and you intend to grow, the best plan is to revisit your starting assumption and make something else. – Seth Godin

Businesses get locked on to their business model. Of course, they most likely have a significant investment in what they do.

Kodak was exactly that type of business….they had so much investment in the photographic film business….they were unwilling do something else….like digital photography (developed in 1975 by a Kodak employee).

The Kodak film business had a profit margin of 75%….that prevented Kodak management from doing something else.

The question of course….can a business/organization revisit its original model….make something else….and continue to grow.


In Decline

An on-line story indicated that newspapers were an industry that was significantly in decline. If anything has impacted the newspaper business….it has been the internet.

When businesses/organizations are in a downward spiral….their service also deteriorates. The News and Observer is no exception.

This mornings paper wasn’t delivered to my across the street neighbor. It use to be no big deal….just call The N&O and another paper would be at the door in less than an hour. Not the case anymore….The N&O doesn’t do that.

Newspapers may eventually fade away….in paper form. The local service is an indication of that. Whether The N&O and other papers can reverse their decline remains to be seen. They certainly have to improve in many areas (misdelivery being one) to have any future.



Potatoes are a food staple….and most people don’t think too much about them. Yet, there is an industry and businesses that supply potato farming and storage. Rather than huge companies, like John Deere….these are smaller firms that have segmented the farm equipment market.

Spudnik is one those companies and is located in Blackfoot, Idaho…. owned by the Grimme Group in Germany. Spudnik is  a company that manufactures unique agricultural products that most folks would never know about….like the multi-level conveyor system in the photo.

Spunik….knows its market….unknown to most….yet vital to this industry.