New, Useful Perspectives …..If We’re Paying Attention

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By Sid Chadwick

A ship in harbor is safe…but that is not what ships are built for…”…..John A Shedd


Success in our great industry….has many designs and looks…if…we’re paying attention.

Recently, in our Wide-Format Peer Group, we were fortunate to be introduced to a company, an owner, and a culture --- like none….I’ve previously observed.

He gave us his entire day….to participate….and observe….our non-stop Agenda, and group discussions.

The owner grew-up in a family, whose culture was “The Apparel Business…in the Northeast”. His prophetic comment: “This business is easy, compared to the Apparel Business.”

Over the last 18 years, he started with buying an operation that was at $1.4 million. Last year, revenues were over $19 million. (That’s just to get your attention.)

Several comments…… that were like “thunder-claps”:

“Any job that is over or under more than 15 minutes from its Estimate, we tear apart to find out why.” (Certainly a “take-away” of how to use disciplines learned --- to improve what one accomplishes, going forward --- from a brutally competitive Apparel Business culture.)

We commit 3% of our revenues, every year --- to charitable, non-profit organizations.” My observation and opinion is that when an organization is that proactive with local community non-profits, the community --- as a whole --- knows it, and supports that organization, from the largest corporation, to the smallest.

Such a culture tends to have elevated employee recruitment and retention (especially with millennials), to compliment elevated customer retention.

Two attending owners to our Wide-Format Peer Group offered in their "Feet-to-the-Fire Commitments", to begin evaluating their company's projects, "Estimated vs.Actual" --- to see how much variance they were incurring.

Additionally, I can testify that if you only look at each job "Estimate vs. Actual Summary Numbers", you may be overlooking significant errors. As an example, you may be noticeably "under" in material costs incurred, but noticeably "over" in Prep or Bindery times incurred. If you only look at a Job's Summary Numbers, you can easily miss two significant pieces of information, that are costing here, and predictably.......elsewhere.


What’s your differentiation…?

What are you continuously improving…..?

Why should your community…. support your organization…?

What do you provide your customers, employees, and community…..that they need….and value…..?

How do you sustain those values….…?

“If you don’t make a total commitment to whatever you are doing, then you start looking to bail out the first time the boat starts leaking. It’s tough enough getting that boat to shore with everybody rowing, let alone when a guy stands up and starts putting his jacket on…..”…………Lou Holtz










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