Restaurant Impossible

Success or Failure


Restaurant Impossible:

The top factors from the Business Insider article apply to any business –

  • Attention to detail
  • Financial competency
  • Owners relationship to staff
  • Owners vision and passion
  • Customer service (care)
  • Adaptability
  • Differentiation

Unfortunately some businesses lack the skills to stay or even be in business. Successful businesses have a good product (s) /service….fair price….and superior customer care. Not too complicated….however often difficult to execute.


Sussex IM Plastics

Sussex IM

From the jsonline:

“Purchased by senior managers in late 2009 from its British corporate owner, the plastic products company has nearly doubled its sales, increased employment and expanded its plant.”

Often a change in management/leadership means that a company will grow and even be more successful. That’s the case with SussexIM.

Whether Mr. Lid is very profitable….the key point is that Sussex is innovating….improving its manufacturing processes and expanding into new markets


Real Job

Pack a Perfect BagGrocery Bag

Packing groceries….1st real job….at Plumb’s Super Markets….and $ .75 per hour.

Most people remember their first real work. Packing groceries was a great test of doing work well….if not excellent. No plastic bags in 1958.  A paper grocery bag had three distinct layers….all done with precision….on a busy Friday night and all day Saturday.

The perfect layered bag:

  • Bottom – Cans to fit the rectangular bag
  • Middle – Boxed goods – cereal, etc
  • Top – Soft goods – bread, produce   

To just throw items in the bag was unacceptable 

The lesson learned from “grocery store 101”  – do the best at whatever task is at hand.

Note: I still  prefer to pack my own grocery bags.

Dysfunctional Leadership

Command Run Amok

Dysfunctional leadership

From the Navy Times:

The article headline – “Hostile ‘creepy’ commanders: Inside a field hospital run amok”

There are numerous examples of dysfunctional leadership in organizations. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last in the Navy or any branch of the military.

The key issue is how these people got placed into these positions in the first place….whomever was writing their effectiveness reports are also responsible.

From the article:
“The egregious behavior by the individuals cited in these investigations was apparent prior to their deployment. The deployment just accentuated their previously dysfunctional behavior,” she said. “The real question is, why were these folks chosen to deploy here?”


Glaring Flaws


A franchise restaurant has recently opened in Cary….the review – “Though it’s difficult to look past the restaurant’s glaring flaws, la Madeleine does offer some tasty food for your troubles.”

Other reviews have pointed out these flaws. The compelling question is….Do the managers pay attention to these details or is the standard….mediocrity?

Of course the real test….is profitability. If corrections are not made to make this business excellent….the market will determine its future.

Mediocrity is not a strategy.


NCR Punched Paper Tape


Getting current financial P & L for a family business was a drawn out process….often it took weeks to get up-to-date reports. Everything at that time was done by hand….of course this was well before personal computers were available.

I decided we needed better and more relevant information on how we were doing. The technological solution (at that time) NCR Cash Registerwas a NCR electronic cash register with punched paper tape. At the end of the month we sent the tape for processing and in a few days the profit and loss statement was returned. The balance sheet data was sent to the accountant. 

While we were able to have more current information….the process was cumbersome and not cost-effective. We were only about 15 years too early!


Failure and Lesson Learned

Disaster 2

A colleague and I developed a weekend leadership/team building workshop for an organizaton in South Carolina. We created excellent materials and planned for a very successful project.

While we completed the workshop and were compensated….this project was a complete disaster. What went wrong?

  • The leader of the organization reluctantly participated!
  • His reluctance created a disruptive atmosphere.

While we were clear on the proposal and preliminary material, we had to work through the executive officer.

We persevered through the weekend. What we should have done was meet off to the side…..analyze the issue….and either continue or terminate the workshop and absorb the loss.

The lesson learned – make sure everyone is on the same page and make sure everyone is on the same page again. If not don’t continue on.

What If?

Cummins Engines

Cummins new QSK95 engines at the Seymour Engine Plant

Cummins new QSK95 engines at the Seymour Engine Plant


The Gold standard for diesel engines has been Cummins. They were a company that many folks in the MBA program were interested in interviewing. So I scheduled an interview.

Did I make the first cut?….no. I did interview Clarke Equipment (fork lifts)….Federal-Mogul (auto components)….and Ingersol-Rand (gas compressors)….all pretty good companies at that time.

Looking back….no regrets on decisions made….however what if there was time spent in Columbus, IN?


Sappi Site 


Todays announcement that the Sappi Paper Mill site was ready for  redevelopment.

This of course is very good news for Muskegon (where new development always takes longer than expected). A key element will be leadership and financing.

The Sappi site is perhaps one of the few left on the Great Lakes of this size….120 acres….one mile frontage on Muskegon Lake (the largest harbor) on Lake Michigan.

However like many other projects in the community….plans and execution are sometimes over ambitious. The remaining cleanup of the site is still not completed.

There are other community issues that still have to be resolved….blighted housing for example.

It may take many years to see the end result of this project….perhaps this will be the major endeavor that will transform Muskegon from just a factory town to something better and different.

Followup: Owners of Windward Pointe