From the trenches: Who cares about a peanut vendor?
Not many people know about Amedeo Obici’s business history. But if they did, they could definitely learn from it.
Born in Oderzo, Italy. Migrated to America in 1889. His voyage was intended to take him to live with his uncle and his family in Scranton, Pa. But unable to speak any English, he was misdirected, or lost his way, and ultimately ended up in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where other Italians, the Musantes, took him in.
While working at the family’s fruit store, Obici observed an early marketing strategy of Mr. Musante. His store fanned the fragrance of roasting peanuts out into the street, where people would be lured inside to buy the peanuts.
Obici eventually acquired his own peanut cart and became a great promoter in his own right. He befriended Mario Peruzzi, a fellow immigrant working for a wholesale grocer. The two went into business together in 1897, and Obici eventually developed a method of blanching, roasting and shelling peanuts.
It worked. And in 1906 Obici and Peruzzi founded the Planters Peanut Co.
During the Depression, companies struggled. Many looked for ways to cut costs and increase profits, putting the product quality at risk. Obici, however, concentrated on making the highest-quality product while developing more economical production methods. He was successful, and competitors fell by the wayside.
I tell this story because, in much the same way, I believe too many builders today take too many shortcuts, resulting in significantly inferior products. I see some businesses closing early, shutting their doors while they make deliveries, and cutting back on the number of days they will make deliveries. In making difficult decisions on how to manage costs, too often we seek solutions that ultimately cheapen our products.
Many vendors are reducing and, in some cases, eliminating sales and marketing support, and cutting co-op dollars way back, resulting in decreased support and customer service. The way companies handle returns, complaints and call-backs have all deteriorated, making long-term success less viable.
Now here’s the good news for builders, lumberyards, vendors and manufacturers. Companies that have invested in their future are in a prime position to compete and win against companies that have not. If you follow the crowd into cutting costs to the absolute minimum, then you position yourself to be a laggard in your industry. By contrast, those who work hard, innovate, maintain — as much as possible — sales and marketing, and keep a higher level of customer service and support are on the path to be the leaders in the future.
The best time to capture market share is when the competition is doing a poor job of serving its business/customers. The lowest cost you will ever pay to attract and retain customers is when everyone else is doing a poor job. This market is ripe to recover; where are you positioning yourself?
St. Paul, Minn.-based Lampert Yards has 32 locations and more than 100 years of history.
Guardian expands deck warranty
Greer, S.C.-based Guardian Building Products (GBP) announced the addition of a 10-year residential labor limited warranty on its GuarDeck Prestige line of composite decking products.
Earlier this year, GBP announced a residential lifetime material limited warranty on its Prestige line, covering fading, rotting, splitting, splintering, delamination and structural damage from fungal decay or termites.
“The addition of labor coverage for our Prestige decking has made the best guarantee in the business even better.” said Mark Bjerke, GBP brand product manager. “We have tremendous confidence in the long-term performance of our decking products. Including labor costs in our warranty coverage makes sense to give homeowners and deck builders the same confidence we have, and to show our full support of our channel partners.”
Guardian Building Products Distribution is one of the largest building products distribution networks in North America, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian Industries Corp. based in Auburn Hills, Mich.
McCoy’s Building Supply hailed as tech leader
San Marcos, Texas-based lumber and hardware retailer McCoy’s Building Supply was listed by IDG’s CIO Magazine as one of the top 100 companies that is using information technology to deliver a competitive advantage.
The 24th annual CIO 100 award program recognizes organizations around the world that exemplify the highest level of operational and strategic excellence in IT.
“Creating an exceptional customer service experience is McCoy’s passion,” said McCoy’s Dennis Strong, senior VP and chief information officer. “Our technology is the backbone that enables our store teams to best meet the needs of both our professional and retail customers. McCoy’s feels honored to be recognized for the role technology plays in our ultimate goal of serving our customers.”
McCoy’s Contractor Network, an online directory that connects homeowners to professional contractors, is one innovation that has been receiving recognition from technology media.
McCoy’s provides contractor customers with customized Web pages on mccoys.com where they can advertise services they offer, their qualifications, licensing, warranties and pricing, as well as photographs of their work. By entering a ZIP code, a homeowner needing a service provider can access a directory of contractors in his or her area and obtain the information they’ll need to contact a contractor about a project.
"This year’s CIO 100 awards draws well-deserved attention to companies that are not only innovating with IT, but creating genuine business value as well," said Maryfran Johnson, editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. "These winning companies and their IT organizations are an inspiration to businesses everywhere."
McCoy’s was recognized by Home Channel News as the 2009 Pro Dealer of the Year.