Expand the Pie



A former business friend recently passed away. Paul’s passing reminded me of the competitive market we were in….yet how that was beneficial to our business. There are less than a 1/4 of the home furnishings businesses that remain in Muskegon….than when we were in business.

With all the competition, it was a challenge to stand out….yet that is what made us different. Actually, all of the stores created lots of advertising. Thursdays were the big ad day and every business had an ad….several full page….most 3/4. Customers knew that the home furnishings market was competitive. More stores helped to expand the pie. Our job was to make sure we had our slice of the pie.

Most of the competition was friendly….if we needed a piece to fill an oder….it only required a call and we would borrow or buy at cost the needed item. Paul and us  worked together for many years doing that.

Competition is what made us different and willing to try new ideas that gave us presence in the marketplace.

Paul MathewsPaul was a good friend. He entered the Marine Corps in 1941 and was on Guadalcanal in 1942. After the war he finished college….served in Korea and entered the home furnishings industry….for a long career. Truly a member of The Great Generation.

Follow Up

Winston’s Grille – Raleigh

Winstons Grille


Saturday was a family dinner/send off. Our daughter is moving to London, UK for two years. Winston’s Grille is a Raleigh fixture in the restaurant market.

The dinner was very nice….prices reasonable….service polished. This is why Winston’s has been in business since 1986 and has a strong following….an excellent business.

In todays e-mail: “On behalf of Winston’s Grille and our entire staff, we would like to thank you for dining with us!. We look forward to seeing you again!!

The quality and service are of course a reason to return….the email does complete the event and is a nice attention to detail if only to act as a reminder of Winston’s Grille.


From Tom Peters

Act Now

Action! The number one problem haunting big and, sadly, not so big business today is the failure to act. Only a strategy of constant, fast-paced experimentation with everything stands a chance in today’s turbulent marketplace.”

This has been Tom Peters main emphasis for quite some time. I believe that this is a good strategy….with the understanding that there has to be some thought behind it.

My experience is that ideas are generated….evaluated….and acted upon. Where most businesses/organizations fail the test is the willingness to act….and if the idea doesn’t work as planned….learn….and move on.

Versatile Fabrication

Hard Work

Versatile Fabrication

Versatile Fabrication is a small metal shop in Muskegon….along with many others in the Midwest that specialize in metal fabrication.

Versatile is located on 9th street in Muskegon Heights….in an industrial area of the town. Muskegon Heights is where I grew up….now the Heights is somewhat rundown. The housing stock is old….the school system is under emergency management….blight exists in many areas….all very disappointing.

The good news is that Versatile Fabrication is expanding. The land directly across the plant was formerly Shaw Box Crane/Lift Tech (a Muskegon icon from its manufacturing heyday). Versatile will build a new facility on this redeveloped property.

The other unique aspect of the company is that leadership for the most part has developed from the ground up. These folks started in the business and through years of experience and hard work created a solid business that has stayed in Muskegon.

That is the real success story.




Brand – Customers – Public


From Seth Godin (o6.04.14): Organizations ought to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Failing that, they ought to do the right thing because their public doesn’t belong to them, they belong to their public, and when they fail to understand that, value disappears.

Seth of course is spot-on….whether a business or an organization.

1) Businesses often forget that the pubic (customers) is the one reason they exist. I suppose that someone would say business exists for the stockholders. In our economic world that happens….yet without the customers (public) there would be few rewards for stockholder investment.

2) Some Organizations operate in the same manner….they exist for themselves. Yet they also have a public that ultimately determines whether they have long-term sustainability. Over the years….I have seen organizations that were once successful flounder. The reason….no clear purpose for their existence….no clear understanding that they belong to the public.

In our business….customers were challenging….not all the time….some of the time. At the end of day when we totaled the days sales….locked up the building….it was a remainder that all what we did was for the customer…..our reward was accomplishing that purpose.





Coffee (Again)


From the CBS Morning News: a segment on the Aeropress Coffee Maker. This was a short piece yet very convincing….”the coffee was excellent” the reporter stated.

The Areopress was invented by a prolific inventor in California….who wanted a great cup of coffee without a lot fuss. The coffee is extracted from the grounds by a simple push of the plunger….the French Press method. The added feature is a filter that eliminates any particles.

I had to check this out. Log on to Amazon….buy two (~ $30 ea.)….one to try and one to send to son-in-law in England.



20 x 20


20 Slides


“Also, you’ll have the chance to be one of 10 attendees to “pitch” your dream using 20 slides timed to advance every 20 seconds.” – Ben Arnett

Presentations can often be tedious….after a lengthy period….they can also be ineffective. Of course, it takes time to develop a concept or idea. Yet 20 slides advancing every 20 seconds…. a total of about 7 minutes…motivates a presenter to make sure that every word counts.

If an idea can’t be communicated in seven minutes than perhaps it needs further refinement.

Looking back on the family business days….we probably had no more than 7 minutes to convince the customer that we were someone to do business with….and that was only the first step.