Archives for category: Business

I recently came across this article and was quite surprised. Not surprised that Wal-Mart is pushing suppliers to improve performance, but surprised that this is a new initiative.  The supply chain group at American Airlines, one of the best I have come across, was forcing their suppliers to improve in the areas of On Time Delivery, Early Deliveries, and On Time In Full back in 1999 / 2000.  As a supplier at the time to American, we learned a lot, and improved quite a bit.  If you happen to be a supplier to Wal-Mart, do not despair.  Improving these metrics in short order is very much achievable, without breaking the bank.

Source: Wal-Mart Will Punish Its Suppliers for Delivering Early – Bloomberg

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart 

 

Not the longest article, so take the time and give it a read.  While focused on manufacturing in the state of Indiana, the article points out that while low cost manufacturing has moved overseas, there continues to be a need in the US for companies engaged in manufacturing.  Especially those who can get product to market quickly and handle high tolerance manufacturing within highly regulated markets.  I hope everyone enjoys.

 

Source: Manufacturing in America – The Atlantic

Regards,

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
https://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

Source: Can you short Uber? — Quartz

This is a very good article that is worth a read (or two).  Irrespective of whether or not you have an interest in shorting Uber, the article provides insightful data (via good research and great reporting) on the future of vehicle ownership and self-driving automobiles.  Well worth the read!

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
https://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

This post has been on my mind for a while, so I finally decided to sit down at the keyboard and share my thoughts.  Over the years I have interviewed my fare share of candidates.  The roles that I have interviewed people for have ranged from senior to entry level positions.  Irrespective of role, I have seen many candidates trip themselves up in the interview because they were not adequately prepared.  By prepared, I don’t mean having a dossier on the company.  In many cases candidates for both senior and junior level roles, have not completed basic research or just were not prepared.  A few examples include:

  • Not knowing what the company does
  • Not having reviewed the company website
  • Not having read the job description or remember what the job is, even though you submitted a resume and have accepted an in-person interview
  • Not having prepared any questions to ask the person interviewing you
  • Unable to remember (or unwilling to discuss) key accomplishments from you last position

The items above seem like common sense, but I have come across many people who were disqualified because of the aforementioned  items.  I know competition for talent is tough in today’s marketplace, but I don’t think it is too much to expect that people show  up prepared (as well as on time) for an interview.  Also, for folks conducting the interview, please take time to read the candidate’s resume.  Respect goes both ways.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart

Source: The story of the invention that could revolutionize batteries—and maybe American manufacturing as well – Quartz

Interesting article regarding innovation in an area that has stifled many a people for many a year.

 

Rindge Leaphart

While not a huge fan of soy sauce, the post below highlights the history of the ubiquitous little package of sodium laden sauce that many of you may have stashed somewhere in your kitchen.  While I found the history interesting, what really caught my attention was the blurb at the end of the article about innovation (packaging in this case) being applied to this ho-hum product.  Product innovation to non-glamorous products continue to both fascinate and surprise.  My favorite non-glamorous innovations include: 1. Bottled water and 2. Pre-packaged lettuce.  Who would have thought we needed bottled water?  Bottled water is a very large industry ($100B by some estimates), but in the grand scheme of things it is relatively new – some estimate that the bottled water craze started in the 1990’s.  The same holds true with pre-packaged lettuce  / salads.  I was content with buying a head of lettuce and doing the shredding myself.  Clearly someone understood this to be a pain point and innovated.  Hats off to all innovators who are able to recognize that a staid product may ripe for growth via innovation.  Hopefully, Little Soya will find success with their innovation.

Enjoy the article.

The Mysterious, Murky Story Behind Soy-Sauce Packets — Atlantic Mobile.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
https://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

Walmart’s ‘Made in USA’ push exposes strains of manufacturing rebirth | Reuters.

Several months ago, I shared an article on Walmart’s push to re-ignite manufacturing in the US.  I’m glad to see the continued push in this area.  Per the article, it is interesting to note that one of the biggest issues facing manufacturers is the lack of local component suppliers.  It seems as if many component suppliers were driven out of business or moved overseas.  I’m looking forward to the results that come out of the latest Walmart confab on said subject.  Along those lines, I am in the midst of reading a book by the name of Factory Man – very good book that provides a decent overview of how (and why) U.S. furniture makers moved a majority of their manufacturing overseas.

 Rindge Leaphart

 

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
https://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

How Steinway (Still) Makes Pianos | Mental Floss.

For those of you who have the time (8 minutes), watch the video of how Steinway manufactures pianos in NY.  Great video describing the craftsmanship that goes into each piano.  I’m not sure how many new pianos they manufacture each year (as you will see they are a job shop with very manual processes), but the process described and captured in the video is very impressive.   What they do at Steinway is clearly a work of art.

Rindge Leaphart

I’ll cut to the chase on this post.  Recruiting customer facing employees with the “Right Attitude” drives customer satisfaction and increased spend.  The genesis of this post is based on my grocery shopping experiences.  I frequent a number of grocery stores on a regular basis.  There are several, though, that I am going to comment on in this post.  I am always impressed when I interact with employees from the following grocery stores: Market Street, Whole Foods, and Central Market.  In my experience, these stores generally have higher prices and in some cases less selection than other grocery stores I frequent.  Even with higher prices and less selection of the foodstuffs that interest me, I continue to frequent these stores.  Why?  The employees.  When I interact with employees from these stores, I am always impressed with their customer facing skills.  The employees  exhibit a number of traits that I do not find in other grocery store employees.  These traits are as follow:

  • A positive attitude
  • Knowledge about the products in their store
  • Willingness to assist
  • Provide customer service with a smile

I have a recruited a number of employees in the past and while you can teach employees technical skills, I am not sure you can teach them the traits outlined above.  What I find interesting is that the majority of the employees I come across in said stores seem to all have the same type of positive attitude.  Hats off to the leaders of these stores for recruiting front line employees with the “right attitude”.  I suspect employee pay at these grocery stores is higher than at others.  If so, this is a great example of why paying more to recruit talented employees is worth it.  I am sure there are many other factors at play beyond salary.  Whatever they are, there is something to be learned from these companies and their recruiting policies.  People often talk about the great service provided by Nordstrom.  I believe employees at Central Market, Whole Foods, and Market Street are another example of how recruiting employees with the right attitude can positively impact financials.  Because of these employees, I gladly drive out of my way and spend more than I typically would on groceries.  I think the image I found below drives home the point.  Your thoughts?

 

Regards,

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart
https://rindgeleaphart.wordpress.com/

Just read the following blog posting Howard Marks: Dare to Be Great II | The Big Picture. – that is  focused on on what makes one a superior investor.  As I read through the article the points that the author covered are applicable to more than just being a successful or superior investor.  The points he covered can be applied to any area or profession.  It is not limited to the field of investment.  Some of the key areas covered in memo are:

  • Dare to Be Different
  • It Isn’t Easy Being Different
  • Dare to Be Wrong
  • Dare to Look Wrong
  • Looking Right Can Be Harder Than Being Right

The dare to be different point rang true for me since I have always marched to a somewhat different beat (and some might argue that I dance to a different beat as well, but that is a different story).  I have always counseled my kids to not follow the crowd.  Along those lines, though, many of us realize that being and doing things differently is not easy and never will be.  It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to “be different”.  The other points highlighted in the memo are all insightful and once again are applicable to all walks of life.  Hats off to Howard Marks for his second installment on the subject of “Dare to be Great”.  The posting is a little lengthy, but worth the effort – scroll to the middle of the blog posting to see the memo from Marks.

Rindge Leaphart

http://www.linkedin.com/in/rindgeleaphart