More with Less

Total Door Systems

Total Door Systems

Small companies can outperform larger companies. Total Door Systems in Waterford Township, MI is an example of one of them.

From  Crain’s Detroit Business:

Making institutional doors is not high-tech….yet Total Door Systems (and its supplier) have developed a coating that qualifies as high-tech.

The key to the story is a new coating process that reduces drying time from 24 hours to seconds….which in turn means increased production. The end result: a more efficient 63,000 sq ft plant instead of a costly 175,000 sq.ft facility.

Innovation is often overused….however Total Door System has created a very innovative process.


Product + Service

Better than Average

The N&O restaurant critic visited a new restaurant in Cary…..his review was:

Food: well-executed. Service:  ” Could be warmer and more attentive”.

It is a puzzle to me why restaurant owners/chefs make a large investment in their businesses….prepare good food and yet the service does not reflect the quality of the meal.

I spoke to the reviewer. His reply:

  • The proliferation of the culinary arts….increases people with excellent food cooking skills. Yet….there is not a clear understanding of  business skills. It is not only the food quality….it is also the service quality that completes the dining experience.
  • Except for a few high-end restaurants that have developed a professional level of service and staff….most restaurants depend on part-time service staff with also a corresponding high turnover.

Excellent restaurants are an asset to the community….if a restaurant owner wants to develop a loyal cliental….than an investment in creating extraordinary service is as important as extraordinary meals. 

Business Plan


Biz Plan

From the October BusinessNC:

“We really don’t have a business plan.” I’ve wished I had a partner who was particularly adept at the business end. I’m more of an engineering guy.”

All good businesses should have a business plan…..yet not all businesses execute that plan. In business, not everything goes according to plan.

In our business….we had a well-constructed plan….that was also flexible. A business plan should at least detail the market….operations….management….strategy. Without these business basics….it would be difficult for most companies to be successful.

I would think that Parkliner would find the right business partner.

Detroit Style

Buddys Pizza


Pizza is almost at the top of the food pyramid. Every locale has its famous pizza. Detroit and southeast Michigan are no exception. Sadly, the city of Detroit is struggling….though the areas outside of Detroit are doing OK.

What makes Detroit style different?….It is a square pizza similar to Sicilian-style pizza that has a thick deep-dish crisp crust and toppings such as pepperoni and olives, and is served with the marinara sauce on top.

Buddy’s Pizza established 1936….began making the square style in 1946. With nine locations in the Detroit metro area, Buddy’s is a well-recognized brand.

Longevity and brand recognition….key elements for a successful business.’s_Pizza

Changing Times

Be Distinct or Be Extinct

Changing TimesTwo businesses are signs of changing times….one in Cary….another in Grand Rapids, MI.

The Hallmark store in an excellent shopping center is reducing its size by almost 50%. Significant in the sense that it has been in this center for over 20 years and the owners have a strong presence in Cary. My best guess – the greeting card industry has changed….merchandise mix has changed….perhaps an opportunity to readjust the lease and reduce overhead expenses. Walking into the remodeled business….it seemed cramped and uninviting.

Williams Furniture in Grand Rapids, MI is closing after 66 years. Williams was the standard for solid….medium priced furniture in Western Michigan. It remained at its original location…..maybe the reason for closing. Perhaps not the right leadership in place. As in greeting cards….furniture reatiling has changed….all signs of changing times.

Design + Coffee

LaColombe – NYC


This article was fascinating not only because of the coffee aspects….but how significant design enhances the product.

La Colombe is a roaster and retailer of premium coffees with locations in New York City, Philadelphia, and Seoul, Korea. La Colombe positions itself at the higher end of the coffee spectrum….certainly not a competitor to Starbucks.

Considerable thought and expense is given to design….which inturn differianates La Colombe from the competition. In fact….reading the article it seems that La Columbe is setting the standard for an extraordinary coffee product.

Pet Food

Fromm Family Foods

Fromm Family Foods

From The Journal-Sentinel On-Line:–thats-formula-for-fromm-b99112559z1-226589561.html

I suspect that pets also eat gourmet food…..and that is what Fromm Family Foods provide.

Fromm is a 110 year old company located in Mequon, WI. with 110 employees. The business is family owned and competes in the $27B pet food market along with some well-known large corporations.

What sets Fromm pet foods apart is their stargety of selling only to independent stores and creating a strong relationship and following with their customers.

Like many family businesses….Fromm wants the next generation to work somewhere else before they enter into the business. A good idea….to get exposure to the business world.

They care about their product….their customers….and pets. Excellent values for a solid business.

Common Sense

Personal Misconduct


In less than a two-week period (10.04.13 post), another flag-officer has been relieved of duty….bluntly put – fired.

In the case of this Major General, it was personal misconduct or really lack of common sense. The misconduct occurred while the general was on TDY (temporary duty away from base) not at 20th Air Force Headquarters….yet that doesn’t make any difference. Whether on TDY or on-base….common sense prevails for anyone….a 1st Lt. or a Maj.General. Nothing less than high standards should apply.

The real issue is that perhaps no one spoke up when the misconduct took place. Generals have a great deal of latitude and influence….junior officers are reluctant to say anything….a Lt.Col or Col. could and should step aside and speak out.

This Maj. General is reassigned and likely will be asked to retire….sadly embarrassing himself….family….and the Air Force.

Senior leaders must do the right thing….it only takes common sense.


Honey Crisp & SweeTango

Fresh Market

On a recent visit to The Fresh Market….a high-end grocery store. I was drawn to the produce section and the premium apples…HoenyCrisp and SweeTango. These were giant apples….selling for $2.99 per pound.

What drew my attention was the way they were neatly displayed….row upon row…..almost to a flat top pyramid….a terrfic merchandising strategy. While the price is higher than the more traditional apple….the HoneyCrisp and SweeTango are worth the price.

The Fresh Market takes their produce seriously and merchandising (display) makes a significant difference….it’s a solid marketing strategy. It was impossible to resist not buying one (SweeTango) of these excellent and fresh apples.


The Humble Cup

Humble cup

I often post on coffee….it’s a fascinating subject.

From the LATimes;,0,1490039.story

A very clever idea:

  • Instant pour-over of fresh roasted coffee
  • Highly portable-a small packet
  • Local product-made in Los Angeles
  • Good Coffee-from local roasters
  • Great design-it’s simple….just add hot water

Humble Cup is available in local coffee shops such as Cafe Dulce and Barista Society in Los Angeles and Taza Coffee in Arcadia….this seems like a great opportunity to expand the concept beyond LA.