Zingerman’s was founded in 1982 in Ann Arbor, MI….way past our time at the U of M.
It has become a well-known local business as well as a successful mail order company. Zingerman’s has some rather unique products.
From the 2012 Early Bird Holiday Catalog.: an 80 lb. wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese at $1800 and their legendary reuben sandwich kits at $135-$200.
What got my attention was the “Eight reasons you will trust Zingerman’s guarantee”:
- Never a hassle
- No returns necessary
- Only taste matters
- We do whatever it takes
- Everyone is covered
- On time arrival
- We cover the experience
Unfortunately not all mail order businesses have this iron-clad guarantee. Of course, Lands’s End….LL Bean have had solid guarantees for many years.
A strong guarantee means that that’s a business I want to deal with. We sold Berkline recliners with a lifetime warranty on the mechanism. We always replaced a worn-out mechanism for free. Perhaps it was a sign of the recliner getting good use!
A good guarantee is good business.
Note: Berkline is no longer in business. The brand is now owned by Ashley Furniture.
Seeking the Best
A recent story spoke about the wine industry in Argentina. One producer realized that Argentina could craft wines comparable to those of Napa Valley, CA.
The wineries reasoned that only quality wines could compete worldwide….and began the process of growing a grape variety that would make a quality wine. Building on the Malbec grape….a wine was produced that earned high points in quality and helped Argentine wines compete in the world marketplace.
Yet quality can be elusive….a Toyota….Honda….or Chevrolet can be a quality product. Are they any better or worse than an Audi….BMW….or Lexus?
We sold quality products at a mid-market price. Baker Furniture (the very high-end manufacturer) sold quality products at a much higher price point.
So quality doesn’t depend only on price. As long as a business makes or sells a quality product….it’s the foundation a successful enterprise.
The key is being the best at whatever you do. That was our business model….and it served us well.
Specialty Cheese Co.
Ever had baked cheese? I’m not sure most folks have. However, baked cheese (Just the Cheese) is a popular product manufactured by the Specialty Cheese Co. in Reeseville, WI. For the most part….Just the Cheese….and other ethnic cheeses are sold over the internet.
With its plants over a 100 years old….and a fairly small company….Specialty Cheese makes unique products and has a niche market. What every successful business aims to do.
Automobile parts manufacturing is a very challenging business. Many companies didn’t survive over the past few years. Autocam was able to continue on during the down period by relying on its medical business. Now it’s again building auto parts….but a very sophisticated part….
Most of the growth will come from Autocam’s production of precision parts for gasoline direct injection (GDI) pumps such as those found on Ford’s Eco-Boost and Chevrolet’s ECOTEC engines.
Using GDI, the newest generation of engines gets better gasoline mileage and performance by precisely squirting a highly atomized shot of gasoline into each cylinder.
“The more atomized the fuel is, the hotter and cleaner it burns,” explained Chris Qualters, vice president of sales and marketing. Autocam will make all of the moving parts for the injector pumps, he said.
Autocam makes parts for the injector pumps that are measured in tolerances as small as .3 microns, Qualters said. A human hair is 80 microns thick.
That ability to make millions of parts to those tolerances has the automotive world-beating a path to Autocam’s doorstep. “We get a lot of this work because it’s challenging,” Quarters said.
“There is nobody designing a fuel system today that is not in contact with us,” Kennedy said. The market for gasoline direct injection components could grow to $1 billion a year, he said.
Michigan has its fair share of auto parts manufacturers….those that develop and manufacture components like the GDI pumps will be well prepared for the next generation of automobiles.
Food trucks have become very popular….starting on the west coast and spreading throughout the US. Another variation of the food truck concept is Capp’s Apizza. A stone pizza oven on a trailer.
The reason for the brick oven is the heat and speed of cooking….and the fact that hardwood is used as the fuel source. A recent rating (subjective of course) gave Capp’s an 8….10 being the best.
Since there is no permanent location….pizza lovers have to visit the web site to determine where Capp’s Apizza will be next. Since these folks are from Pittsborro….we’ll be waiting for our turn at an “8” pizza,
Smalley Steel Ring Company
Metal springs play a vital role in manufactured products.
From a recent ad:
All springs are not equal….Wave Springs:
- Reduce spring heights by up to 50% compared to coil springs
- Have the same force and deflection as coil springs
- Fit in tight radial and axial spaces
Smalley Steel Ring Company is located in Lake Zurich, IL… is the world leader in the manufacturing and development of Spirolox Retaining Rings, Constant Section Rings (Snap Rings) and Wave Springs.
A very thorough web site and nice facilities.
Note: In 1918, Smalley was founded as a supplier of precision automotive piston rings.
Seth Godin is a prolific writer….both books and blog. He recently wrote:
“If it’s important, do your homework. I confess that I’m amazed when I meet hard-working, smart people who are completely clueless about how their industry works, how their tools work…It never made sense to be proud of being ignorant, but we’re in a new era now. Look it up.”
In our seminars I always emphasised these three lessons
- Experience matters
- Learn all you can
- Understand what works
In otherwords be prepared….though Seth Godin always gives a superb explanation.