From jsonline:


Some businesses that have flounderd….can be turned aound….with the right leadership. From the Journal-Sentinel article….that is the case with Tramont Manufacturing.

Key points:

  • Sales at $1M per month
  • Discount incentives to gain business
  • Deliveries as promised
  • Reliable supplier
  • Quality product to major customers


Motion Dynamics

Wire TechnologyMotion Dynamics

Motion Dynamics located in Fruitport, MI. manufactures precision wire components, springs and wire assemblies for the medical, electronics, aerospace and military industries.


Motion Dynamics (MD) is an example of companies that drive economic growth. Not only do they manufacture highly engineered and innovative products….they also are a vital part of the economic engine of the local economy.

MD founded (1992) might not receive as much attention as an older established company none-the-less from a larger perspective….there are great opportunities for MD’s continued growth in a global economy.

Their nice building certainly reflects their image and culture….always look your best to the customer.

Blue Ocean

Strategic Plan

Blue Ocean

From jsonline: http://www.jsonline.com/business/marks-finds-the-blue-ocean-b99705710z1-375914571.html

“Breakthrough companies find a way to swim into a blue ocean, creating a different business model that is not limited and cannot be duplicated by competitors.

Sue Marks has a knack for swimming into the blue ocean. For the better part of three decades, she has been finding ways to differentiate her businesses from the red ocean that is the human resources and staffing industry.”

Being unique and different (on ongoing theme of TrueNorth) is the foundation of a strategic business plan. The day-to-day operations of course are important….yet there is also the necessity to continually move a business/organization forward to be the only ones who do what they do.

“We want to be the only ones, who can do what we do for our clients.” It is very easy for businesses to be similar….it is a great business that stands out from the others.


Kiwi Brand

Shoe Polish


Founded in 1906 in Australia, Kiwi shoe polish is the best-selling brand of shoe polish in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The brand is now owned by SC Johnson. I have five such cans in my shoebox kit along with a can of Esquire boot polish.

I’m not sure people use as much shoe polish as they did in the past…..six tiny cans have lasted almost 25 years. In fact one has a price of 39 cents.

Of courses, the fascinating thing about Kiwi is that the brand has been in existence for 110 years and the product formula and container design has changed very little.



Direct Mail


A direct mail promotion can be effective if done correctly. The one (above) sent by a Raleigh HVAC company perhaps not so effective.

On the address side….it indicates “Service Notification”

On the reverse side….”Service Request”. It further states – maintenance on a your air conditioner is required. Your charge for this maintenance service is only $79.

The test of course is the response rate versus the cost of the direct mail promotion.

Why would one respond to this direct mail piece?:

  • There is nothing about the company
  • The notice implies that the manufacture’s warranty is null and void
  • The price is $30 more than most other HVAC companies.
  • The words Service Notification and Service Request convey a wrong impression.

I would suggest that this is not an effective marketing strategy and/or direct mail promotion.

High Point University



Once or twice a year Business NorthCarolina encloses a copy of a well-done….112 page publication from High Point University (HPU).

In some respects, the HPU publication is a marketing brochure in a magazine format.

What the HPU magazine does emphasize Is ” bringing business-minded concepts to life for all students”. In a competitive world….HPU seems to provide the type of education that leads to successful careers.

HPU also brings some highly respected people to its campus in its Lessons in Leadership program….such as Gen. Colin Powell….Tom Brokaw….Seth Godin….John Maxwell….Steve Wozniak.

HPU has aggressively expanded in ten years….it seems to have a positive impact on the community and even more so for the students in preparation for a fast-changing world.


Call Volume

Questionable Management

Call Volume

Seth Godin wrote (4.5.16):

“When did companies start talking about, “unexpectedly high call volume?”Are they really so inept at planning that the call volume is unexpected? For months at a time?

“Once an institution starts glibly lying, it’s a slippery slope. A reality distortion field moves from on-hold time to diesel emissions.”

I suspect that companies really don’t have “unexpectedly high call volume”. It’s that they don’t staff the call center to handle even a normal volume of calls. I also suspect that there are numerous algorithms that these companies use to determine drop/churn rates etc. to justify not responding to their calls.

It’s not a good way to do business. We did not have the luxury of a sophisticated phone system. Every time the phone rang….it was answered. And 99% of the time….the customer received a response immediately or shortly thereafter.

Do not mislead the customer….that’s just good business!

Product Warranty


Product Warranty 2

A friend bought a large flat screen TV from a major retailer….just over a year ago. Like most consumer products it had a one-year warranty.

The  RCA TV stopped working. A call to the retailer….sorry nothing they can do….try the manufacturer….and by the way….perhaps an extended warranty should have been purchased.

Of course the question….should not companies make products that last longer than a year? RCA at one time was a well-respected name. Like most older brands…..the name was purchased and the RCA TV is now manufactured overseas.

My friend has been in contact with the manufacturer….through phone calls and emails….no definitive solution yet. Certainly the company can be flexible and solve the problem of its broken TV.

Good businesses stand behind their products.



Furniture Finance

From WRAL : http://www.wral.com/rtg/15607656/

The customers purchased furniture and financed it through a company – Acceptance Now. After missing the payoff date, the contract reverted to Rent-to-Own and considerably more than the purchase price.

The furniture company’s attorney;

” the company is “in the business of selling furniture, not financing….they want “all customers to leave … with a complete and clear understanding of the terms of their purchase.”
While the company’s attorney is correct to a point….their ads always emphasize “no interest – 60 months”. It’s easy for customers to get mislead on the financing of any large item purchase.
In our business….we had some accounts receivable….and sometimes they were written off….we took a chance. For most large purchase we generally used the bank or GE Credit. Certainly no rent-to-own clauses in the contracts.
A primary rule of retailing – do not take advantage of the customer.

News Roundup

March 2016


+ Where are they now from March 2011:

+ Innovative personal floatation device: http://www.lifeshirt.com/

+ Good CEOs–incl Brand Yous–thrive to extent they listen to their customers! – Tom Peters

+ Sears in perpetual state of decline : http://www.businessinsider.com/sears-in-state-of-decline-2016-2

+ Obviously there is a role for marketing, strategy formulation, and the like. But, ultimately, it all boils down to perceived, and appreciated, and consistently delivered service and quality to customers.” -Tom peters

+ Fabulous work. Great relationships. The rest is details. – Tom Peters

+ 8 Business Strategies from McDonalds: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-mcdonalds-can-teach-us-about-business-success-2016-3?amp

+ If you’re competing on price, you’ll spend most of your time counting pennies.- Seth Godin