First Class


The term first class usually means sitting in front of the airplane in rather luxurious surroundings.

Jeffery Gitomer describes first class in the business environment:

The key point of the article that if a business/organization wants to know if it is providing a first class product/service…..than it has to turn to their customers if they want accurate information.

The only way to improve is to get better….and the only way to find the answer is to ask the customer.

Jordan Wines


Building an excellence business takes time. Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg CA has done that.

Founded in 1972 during the period when the wine and vineyard business was in the early stages of development in Northern California….the second generation is now continuing the family business.

Many vineyards and wineries have created a “destination” business that enhances its primary products. Like any excellent business….a winery needs to do that to be better and different.

Meaningful Vision



There is the ongoing discussion regarding organizational vision vs. doing. 

The issue isn’t so much of no vision….rather it is the misunderstanding of what vision means. Most vision statements are ambiguous and thus meaningless. 

Vision (reaching a final destination) and doing are similar to flying. As a pilot there are two aspects to flying….IFR Instrument Flight Rules and VFR Visual Flight Rules.

IFR requires a destination and waypoints along the way…..VFR means that one can takeoff and fly wherever one wants to….no specific destination required.

The same for businesses/organizations…..there is is a desired destination and waypoints (or milestones along the way)….in-other-words there is a vision – someplace where we want the business the be in the future. There is also in the organizational process where we have to fly VFR….just take off and try something. (which either works or doesn’t work).

In the debate over vision or doing….it’s not either/or….it’s both. There has to be some sense of direction and destination and there also has to be the willingness to just do it. 

Vision is only effective when it is meaningful.



In my experience”….there were three attributes that I thought were critical for understanding business. They were:

  • Education – knowing business fundamentals
  • Learning – developing key resources that were time-tested
  • Experience – hands-on learning 

While all three attributes are important…..experience is the one that can guide business decisions…..simply because we know what works and what doesn’t work and that can only be experienced over time.



Masterbuilt Butterball 20 lb XL Electric Turkey Fryer - view number 1

The buying season frenzy has set in. I often wonder if the last quarter sales business model is the best model for any business. We did not rely on year-end sales to make or break our year.

In Sunday’s ad inserts….for “the turkey frying season”….the Masterbuilt Butterball XL 20# electric turkey fryer was featured. The price:

  • Academy Sports+Outdoors – $99.99
  • Target – $129.99

Other retailers were also selling the Butterball XL for $99. The Target price….30% higher certainly wasn’t competitive….especially in our locale. 

Businesses don’t have to have products at the same price…. however, a $30 difference will mean not very many turkey fryers will be sold at Target.

Business Plan


I was asked to review a business plan. No problem….I have a pretty good idea of what a good plan should look like –

  • A clear, well-defined purpose
  • Reasonable financial projections
  • Realistic/pragmatic ideas
  • Substantive and succinct

The plan I reviewed had none of the above. The financials were mere gusesses….the ideas were haphazzard….the writing mediocre.

My conclusion…this plan had little relevance to the original purpose of even creating a plan. Of course I was only one of several folks to review this plan….perhaps they had a different perspective.

The idea behind this business plan is important for this organization….it’s important they get it right.

Fitzjohn Coach

A Legacy

Muskegon had some unique industries….one being the Fitzjohn Coach Company.

I recall the plant in Muskegon. There were numerous bus/coach manufacturers during this era….as riding the bus was a major form (along with the railroads) of transportation.

Other than design….bus manufacturing was straight forward – body sheet metal….engines….frames….interior components were more than likely outsourced. The assembly was the major function.

Fitzjohn closed in 1958….yet left its legacy in Muskegon’s manufacturing history.