Mechanical Drawing

Reid Supply Company

Mech drawing

One of my first engineering classes was mechanical drawing….very similar to the illustration. The drawings had to be perfert….sometimes taking hours to complete.

Reid SupplyReid Supply Company has been in business since 1948….supplying industrial products. Their 2012-2013 catalog has 896 pages of tools….structural systems….assembly parts for most any type of manufacturing.

Manufacturing is the foundation of the economy. It’s nice to browse through the Reid catalog with many of their tools and parts accompanied by mechanical drawings. While these drawings are probably not done by hand any more….they are just as important as they were 50 years ago.



Chili’s Response


Many retail businesses have surveys printed on their receipts. They supposedly want feedback from their customers to improve their business or so it seems.

We often frequent Chili’s (’s) ….a causal chain that usually does a good job in this restaurant category….though the experience varies depending on the local manager.

On a recent outing to a Chili’s in Raleigh (one that we visited in the past)….there was one small detail that was not attended to….so I completed  that survey and the reason for my comment. Though not a major issue….it is the “attention to detail” that separates a good experience from a nice experience.

The survey also asked if I wanted a response and I said sure….does Chili’s really pay attention to the surveys that it is asking for? Unfortunately, no response from Chili’s.

The real issue: If a business asks a customer to complete their survey….indicates they will reply….and then doesn’t. Why even bother. Don’t take the customer for granted….follow through.

Mixed Go Green

A new concept?


Mixed Go Green is a restaurant concept (franchise) founded in Souix Falls, SD. It’s not a completely new concept as there are similar restaurant chains in the U.S.

From On-Line Prairie Business (p.32):

Sometimes writers get excited about the business they are writing about….and businesses get enthusiastic about what they do. Will Mixed Go Green become a successful franchise? Maybe.

The real test….develop a great business first….than begin to think about franchising.

Big Gulp

Biggby Coffee


Several years ago I wrote about a small coffee chain in Michigan….Biggby Coffee. Now Biggbys wants to expand in the Detroit metro area to 136 stores by the end of 2015.

If they do it well….they belive that this step is the beginning of a national expansion quite similar to Subway.

Biggby’s sales were $59M in 2012 and forecast to be $68M in 2013. A nice size business. Whether Biggbys by can do it and become a national brand remains to be seen. Sometimes its OK to be a strong regional brand.

I am continually intrigued by the coffee business. There always seems to be an opportunity to be better and different.


Oxo Soft Works


Oxo makes nicely designed and affordable products. They have a solid guarantee –

“We guarantee everything we make! If for any reason you are not satisfied with an OXO product, return it for replacement or refund. Please contact OXO´s customer service department and we will be happy to assist you.”

One of the small things….yet significant is the packaging. The above package was made of substantial material….dark grey/light grey in color (attractive) and importantly…easy to open.

The packaging itself implies quality. While costing more than a flimsey material….this attention to detail enhances the Oxo brand.

Years ago I read an article on how Steelcase projected their name. Everytime a Steelcase truck Steelcase truckreturned from a delivery….it was always washed.  A small detail….yet when making a delivery the truck always was in immaculate condition.


The Oxo package is almost as nice as the product.

People = Strategy

The Game of Business

People - Strategy

Nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people… bet on people, not on strategies – Larry Bossidy

From : Former P&G ex CEO 5-step guide to a winning strategy

What is winning?

If you aren’t trying to win, you’re just trying to participate,

Where am I going to play to win?

You can’t win the whole world or please everybody. Trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for failure.

How am I going to win where I play?

It’s deciding how to create unique value, and how the company can deliver it over a long period to create a superior return. 

What are my core competencies that are going to enable me to win?

In order to make the above decisions work, they have to be based on and supported by the things that a company’s best at. For P&G, it was innovating quickly and understanding consumers. 

What management systems and measures are going to help me execute?

Strategies have to be measured and executed by people.

The take-a-way:  For any strategy to work….a business/organization has to have the right people….everyone on the bus going in the same direction.


Ball Control



“The ball’s in the bank’s court,” Updyke said. “It is difficult to predict what will happen next. If bank financing is not available, we might look at putting together an investment group.”

The two young entrepreneurs want to develop a rather old property in the downtown location….I remember from years ago. That’s OK to a degree. The issue is “to develop into what” and a plan to achieve the end result. The Mlive writer tends to look at every idea that comes along as the answer to Muskegon’s redevelopment. The economic folks are anxious….the community is anxious.

A project should be solid and compelling. Businesses need ball control….not turnover the ball to the bank. Make the project a lay-up rather than a 3-pointer try.

Lesson Learned

An Unhappy Leader

Lessons Learned

Not every project goes well. Several years we did a leadership/team event for a large organization.

It was held off-site at a conference center. The executive officer set it up….we provided a schedule and listed the issues that we thought they wanted to cover. Prior to the event we asked specifically what they intended to achieve from this event….to allow us to develop the 2-days to their needs.

Almost from the beginning….the leader was not on-board….especially from his unwillingness to participate. Instead of conveying a sense of unity….his behavior created an uneasiness through the entire event.

Unfortunately we persevered….nice reactions from the staff….bad reaction from the leader….embarresed executuve officer.

Lesson Learned:

  • Be very clear on the desired outcome
  • Be certain leader is in agreement
  • Clearly identify what will take place
  • Walk away if necessary (lesson-which we should have done)

Needless to say this project was not a positive experience for either party.


Today vs. Tomorrow


Businesses/organizations spend a great deal of time on solving today’s (and in some cases) yesterday’s problems.

The real issue is where will that organization be next year….or five years from now. Businesses spend a great deal time trying to solve immediate problems….often at the expense of not thinking about where they want to be in the future.

One organization that we have worked with in the past….is so consumed with current and messy distractions that it is completely losing sight of the future.

While tending to immediate issues is necessay….without looking forward there won’t be any issues to worry about as the business/organization will no longer exist or at the most have minimal impact in the marketplace..

Risky Business

Worst Business

risk management

There are always lists….recently a list of the ten worst grocery stores. Though  the worst list can be of any kind….airlines….cell phone providers….automobiles….etc.

On the grocery store list was Food Lion….main office in NC and very prominent in our area. In fact, during the shopping center boom….it seems that every new center had a Food Lion.

Why is Food Lion or any business considered worst….more so, do companies intentionally position the business to be below average?

Seth Godin wrote:

Operating systems, government programs, established non-profits, teachers with tenure, market leaders, businesses with long-standing customers–these organizations are all facing an uphill battle in creating a culture where there’s an urgency to improve.

In the case of Food Lion: a recent TV ad stated they were improving quality and freshness (is that to imply that previous quality/freshness was inadequate?). The test of course, if there is actual  improvement or…. there is significant change in the Food Lion culture to not be on the ‘worst’ list.

It’s risky business to be on the “worst” list.