On the Green

Cheesebrough Mfg. Co.


There are some businesses that make products that most folks don’t give second thoughts about. Cheesebrough Mfg. is one of those businesses. They manufacture wood hole pins….flags….rakes….accessories for golf courses.

Cheesebrough RakeWooden rakes have been a tradition on golf courses….they are used to smooth out sand traps. Cheesebrough has been in business since 1872….located in Freeport, MI.

This past week a fire destroyed their building….dating back many years.

Companies like Cheesebrough are such unique businesses (“For those who admire and expect quality”)….it would be unfortunate if they are unable to rebuild.



Out of Date

Keep Current – Carry On*

out of date

I’m puzzled why businesses/organizations don’t keep their websites current.

Often I will see the last post on a blog/news release, etc….months old. Or certain links are broken….even worse “under construction.”

It seems that if an investment is made in the site….and the cost of hosting….that an organization would maintain it. I suspect that’s the real issue – maintenance….time and dollars. When consulting….many times these organizations had little set aside for any type of maintenance….in particular facility maintenance.

Website updates….seem to be placed on the back burner. If that ‘s the case visitors/customers may move on to a business that is current and up-to-date.

* From the WW ll British moral poster: Keep Calm-Carry On. and Barter Books (UK). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrHkKXFRbCI


First Jobs – Part 2

A Real Pay Check

First Job

My first real pay check job was at Plumb’s Super Market on Sherman Blvd in plumbsMuskegon…..Plumb’s is still there….a local super market that competes with Meijer’s and Wal-Mart. In past posts (7.20.10), I’ve written about the best lesson learned at Plumb’s….pack a square bag!!

BoeingThe first job out of college was at The Boeing Company in Seattle, WA. Entering the aerospace industry was very exciting in 1962. Boeing did everything….missiles….aircraft. The number of people at Boeing during this period was over 100,000….arriving from all over the US.

My workplace was in an old WW ll warehouse with desks lined up wall-to-wall….each little department consisting of 6-8 desks. My job as a production planner-carry a missile instrumentation box from manufacturing to quality control and customer acceptance.

After a few months, the realization set in that working at Boeing wasn’t going to pan out….so make the change quickly….and reinstate the request for Air Force OTS. A much better decision.



First Jobs – Part 1

Beginning Work

First Job

Work, at least in the 50’s & 60’s, was something to look forward to. The money earned bought a new (or slightly used bike or eventually one’s first automobile).

In Muskegon Hts., Michigan….first jobs were usually:

ReelMowerIllustrationDIYCutting grass with a push reel mower for a $1 or so. It was a great start in learning the work ethic. I had several customers in our old neighborhood….and after our moved to Glenside….rode a bike (5 miles-one way) to continue cutting lawns. 


Chronicle Paper boy Another first job was as The Chronicle paper boy. This was probably every youngsters dream job….it required discipline….to pick up the paper every day….triple fold the paper….pack the bag….deliver the papers. And collect the subscription money every Saturday. Though not a route boy….I was the regular sub for the Hts. downtown route.

In small town America….these were the places where one learned the benefits of work. Cutting grass….delevering papers that’s where it all began.

Design Problem-Part 2

Poor Design – Replacing a Light Bulb

Poor Design

As mentioned in the post (3.14.15)….we purchased our Whirlpool refrigerator in July 2010. Several months ago the freezer light (a nice feature) bulb went out. No problem just unscrew the bulb and replace it.

Unfortunately, the small 25w bulb would not turn in the fixture socket….with the light bulb being awkward  to reach. The light bulb is enclosed within a plastic housing with the bulb base to the front…(below)


It seemed the bulb was frozen and would not turn….if excessive force was used the bulb would break and the base remain in the socket. The manual was not helpful….simply “replace the bulb”. 

My very helpful friend was able to remove the housing, exposing the socket and connections, disconnecting the power we tried to loosen the light buld….still frozen….finally we applied  vegetable spray to the base of the bulb and it eventually worked loose.

The main issue: A Whirlpool refrigerator owner should not have to remove an assembly to replace a light bulb. Better design would make the bulb easier to replace. The replacement of a simple light bulb would have a been a costly service call….if not for a handy friend. Whirlpool should do better….this is poor design.

Note: The local hardware store did not have a 25w appliance bulb….another problem? No, Lowe’s had a 15W bulb which works just fine.

Design Problem-Part 1

Low Cost = Poor Design = Product Disappointment

Poor Design

In July of 2010, we purchased a Whirlpool Gold Refrigerator, Range, Dishwasher. Whirlpool was highly rated….so that was our choice. Within a year the refrigerator was replaced due to a malfunctioning freezer. A  few weeks ago….I found a small rubber part (below)….called a friction sleeve on the floor near the disfwasher.

Why should this part fail within 2 1/2 years? This part costs perhaps $.50 if that to make. Of course, a new friction sleeve is $4.20. None-the-less buy the parts and ask a good friend to help replace it. Normally not a difficult job. Moving the dishwasher from the cabinet requires raising the adjusting screws (below) on both sides of the dishwasher….left screw easily adjusted upwards….right screw won’t budge. After removing the black plastic floor guide (forcefully) we were able to again forcefully get the right adjusting screw up and allow clearance to bring the diswasher forward  Note: the adjusting screw cost maybe a $1 to make and sells for $12.98. 

After examining the mechanism where the friction sleeve is located, we found the left side sleeve beginning to fail. Fortunately, I bought two sleeves and we replaced both. We also found that a thread was damaged on the adjusting sctew….thus preventing it from threading in a bracket (using an old trick, applying some petroleum jelly….eased the thread).

The first issue: The friction sleeves failed within 2 1/2 years.  It seems a design and cost issue. Are these sleeves made of the correct material or simply a poor design?. The leveling screw was either misthreaded at the factory or incorrectly manufactured.

The second issue:  A good friend has the skills (and tools) to help fix the problem. If not….easily a very expensive service call to replace an incorrectly designed/low-cost part. 

Next: Design Problem-Part 2: Replacing a light bulb in the Whirlpool refrigerator.

People Matter

Each Person-Each Customer


“Micro trends matter more than macro ones, but most of all, people matter. Individual human beings with names and wants and interests”. – Seth Godin

In the 60’s, business focused less on the individual and more on the larger market….or so it seemed at the Michigan School of Business. So marketing was more at the macro (larger) level than to the individual.

It was easy to forget that it was each individal….each customer that created growth/sales. The understanding of clearly defining your customer wasn’t fully developed. Pepper/Rodgers did eventually do that in their 1 to 1 Marketing research – each customer important and customers for a lifetime.

There are signs today of the importance of each customer….in particular at Home Depot and Lowe’s (ask an associate for a specific item and they will take you to the correct aisle and product location – not all but most do that).

Though many businesses are still mass market – those that focus on each customer….see the positive results


Sea & Air

Andrie Marine

I often write about companies in Muskegon. Though having been in NC for over 25 years….I still follow businesses that are unique to the area and have an impact on the local Economy.

Andrie Marine is a marine construction and transportation operator on the Great Lakes…. “Andrie serves a diverse marine customer base by executing Great Lakes projects and ventures  from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico”.While a marine company….one of their most important business tools is their Beechcraft King Air 100:


Andrie’s aircraft flies continually to their projects throughout the Great Lakes and east coast. Without the access and flexibility of the King Air….Andire would not be as successful as it is operating from its home base in Muskegon.



customer-serviceFirst Class

What would I have done better in our family business? I would have developed a customer service program to include not only the products we sold….and any others that we could service. Additionally, we would do it at minimal cost to the customer.

Our service was minimal cost….we charged only $15 to pickup and return an item that needed repair. The repairs were skillfully done by “Joe’ our jack of all trades. The limiting factor was that Joe was only part-time.

I believe our service was “excellent”….and an expanded service department would have been a significant differentiator in the market.

Built to Last

Built to last – and – Built to rock


Tom Peters wrote: “Built to last” has never appealed to me. “Built to rock the world” my choice.

I like Jim Collins and Tom Peters….both are on my blog links. They are two of the best business thinkers/writers among many. Tom Peters focus has been on the reinventing/changing companies. Jim Collins research helps us understand what makes existing businesses successful.

It’s not Peter’s approach nor Collin’s approach….not either/or….it can be both. Collins’ Built to Last and the follow ons and Peters’ books provide the solid foundation principles for any business….they should be the resources of choice.

From a recent Tarheel Traveler….a North Carolina business that is Built to Last: