Anaconda Wire & Cable


One of the more prominent companies in Muskegon was Anaconda Wire & Cable Co. located on West Western Ave. in an industrial area along Muskegon Lake.


Anaconda had it early origins around 1920. The above building was purchased in 1923 and remained in existence until 1999 when much of the building was destroyed by a fire. The remnants have just recently been demolished.

At one time Anaconda was a major industry in Muskegon employing upwards of 400 (1960’s).

The plant was finally closed in 1981 due to declining demand and an aging facility.

Manufacturing companies like Anaconda were a vital part of the local economy…..however changing times and markets don’t always guarantee longevity.



Panera Bread


We recently visited our local Panera Bread cafe. Something was off and we decided to write to customer care regarding an item on the menu. Also to see how Panera would respond. 

Unfortunately,  when a customer takes the time to write and comment on a particular issue….Panera responds with this automated response.

“We’re sorry for the bad experience you recently had at our cafe. We’d be frustrated, too. We’re sharing your comments with the team at the bakery-cafe. We all want to make sure you come back soon.

Our goal is for every visit with us to be warm and relaxing, with clean food you can feel great about. We’re never happy to miss that mark, but we’re glad you let us know so we can make sure we get it right next time.

Thanks for your helpful feedback”.

There are two ways to comment:

  1. A link on the Panera website
  2. A reply to their survey after a visit.

The problem is that the automated response received was both from 1 and 2. So it’s very likely there is not a “real” person that responds to any comments made.

Secondly, “there is no incentive to return to Panera Bread other than “we want to make sure you come back soon”.

Panera Bread misses the mark on customer feedback.

Brand You




the-brand-you-50-tom-peters-1-728Tom peters wrote this in Brand You Reinventing Work (1999). In the past, individual work was associated with a company where an individual worked i.e. General “X”.  After MBA school that would have been the case if I had stated at Ingersoll-Rand.

In 2016….most people still identify with the “General”. To really succeed and become even more valuable….Brand You. Be the only one who does what you do….that is where the great value exists.


23 Principles


Uniqlo (Fast Retailing) is a prominent Japanese retailer ($15.5B sales). 

From: https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/people/uniqlo-fast-retailing-ceo-tadashi-yanai-management-principles

Eight key themes distilled from the 23 management principles are:

  1. Customers first. “Only because we have customers are we able to have a business.” – I would add both customers and employees first.
  2. Contribute to society. – Be part of the community
  3. Embrace optimism – There is always tomorrow
  4. Learn for failure – There will always be mistakes
  5. Focus on details – Little things make the difference
  6. Be own critic – Be objective
  7. Connect to the world – Most business don’t operate in isolation
  8. Disrupt  yourself – Adapt to the marketplace 





One of our long-term strategies was to develop a complete home center….furniture….carpet/flooring….appliances.

As there were several specialty appliance businesses in the market….the only brand available was Hotpoint. Hotpoint was made by GE. Having two brands (GE and Hotpoint) gave GE a larger market base.

Actually there were two elements of the appliance strategy….take on the Hotpoint line or partner with another appliance business. Appliances carried a lower profit margin than furniture and carpet and required a service and parts department. Of course, the turnover could be larger in appliances thus the smaller margin.

After serious consideration, we decided against entering the appliance business. Recently a current Muskegon home furnishings store downsized their appliance department and expanded their bedding area….so perhaps we made the right decision in 1975.


Dress Code


Perhaps it was “old school”….we dressed professionally in our business…..not “business casual”. It was always shirt….tie….and sport coat.

We were in an extraordinary competitive market and needed every tool to compete. Our professional dress gave us the credibility to help sell rather big-ticket items to our customers.

Customers perceived that we knew our business and products by our professional attire. Our dress code might be too formal for today’s setting….but it worked for us.


Deutsche Bank


From : http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/will-crisis-confidence-deutsche-bank-spread/

Peter Conti-Brown, Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics, sees the bigger issue as going beyond the financial problems of Deutsche Bank. Assuming that the U.S. has a reasonable case against the firm to warrant the big fine, then “the bank shouldn’t be able to get away with this behavior just because it has grown so large as to jeopardize the financial system,” he says. “If we are willing to conclude otherwise, then we have given large financial institutions the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail free card — they now have an incentive to commit gross violations of the law.”

Conti-Brown adds that “the rush to worry about systemic risk is missing the bigger, more problematic aspect of this debate: Whether banks have incentives to commit criminal fraud with the assurance that the benefits for doing so will far outweigh the costs.”

William K. Black, a professor at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, shared the same view. “I don’t think it’s tenable to have these too big to prosecute entities [whose activities] lead to serial abuse where in essence they hold the global economy hostage,” he said on the Knowledge@Wharton show. “It’s sad that people can talk about massive fraud as a cost of doing business that they will … set aside [funds for] as opposed to stopping. It tells you the complete failure of deterrence.”

It appears that “Ethics” is an issue no matter what part of the world. (note -10.3.16 post)

Business Classic

The Great Game of Business


There are hundreds of business books published each year….there are few that become business classics.

I read The Great Game of Business (GGOB) twenty years….the latest is the 20th Anniversary Edition by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham.

” The revised and expanded edition lays out an entirely different way of running a company. It wasn’t dreamed up in an executive think tank or an Ivy League business school or around the conference table by big time consultants. It was forged on the factory floors of the heartland by ordinary folks hoping to figure out how to save their jobs when their parent company, International Harvester, went down the tubes” That company was Springfield Remanufacturing, the center of the story for The great Game of Business.

The GGOB should be part of the strategy for running any business.


Good Business


I wrote a letter to an organization that I know fairly well. I also wrote to the spokesperson for the group that is developing a significant piece of property in Muskegon (8.4.16 post). Both were complementary letters….and not email. 

Unfortunately, I have not received a reply to either.

Good business lesson #1: when someone tales time to craft a letter, take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the effort.

Good business lesson #2: perhaps an email would have gotten a response!….is writing “old school”?


Wells Fargo



It seems that some managers at Wells Fargo skipped  their Ethics class at business school. Of course, this type of conduct is not only present at Wells Fargo…..it can certainly exist and probably does in other businesses/organizations.

Wells Fargo has been in the news with the discovery of fraudulent accounts being opened…..huge fines being imposed and the CEO being grilled before Congress….as well he should. After all the buck has to stop somewhere. 

Along with the accounts issue another lack of ethics in the illegal repossessing of automobiles from armed service members. – http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/29/news/wells-fargo-servicemembers-cars/. Wells Fargo has been fined $24 million dollars for this misstep.

Wells Fargo said in a statement that it apologizes for not living up to its commitment of ensuring that all service members “receive the appropriate benefits and protections.” Of course, Wells Fargo apologizes after being caught….an ethical company would not have even considered this to begin with.