You Really Want My Business??? Based Upon a True Story … Part 2 of 2

By Lyle Hill

When we left this drama at the end of what I referred to as Part 1 of 2 Parts (see the March 2020 USGlass, page 92), Dan, the CEO of a large provider of goods and services to our industry, had asked me for a second chance. We had cut his company off for a number of reasons that were shared with him when we had met. The problems were, at least in my
opinion, quite self-evident. He had also acknowledged that he had other customers who had made similar comments but, for the most part, hadn’t been cut off by any of them. He also had admitted to me that his price structure was his company’s most appealing attribute. Simply put, they were cheaper than anyone else for any number of products. After our meeting, he had asked for a little time to deal with what I had told him and promised that his company would soon become the vendor that we would want to use whenever possible.

WAIT … in the first sentence of this I used the word drama and I’m guessing right about now that some readers may be questioning the use of that word. I understand. A whole lot of people over-dramatize the events in their lives for any number of reasons. We typically refer to them as drama kings or drama queens. I get that. But if you are a manager of any sort in the business world, you deal with drama every day.

And the more people you interact with on a daily basis, the more drama you’ll encounter. It’s a simple fact of business life. So I think the drama word is okay here. Now where was I? Oh yes … About 45 days after our first meeting, Dan called me and said they were ready— ready to wow us with extraordinary service and quality. So, as promised, we turned
them back on as a supplier to be considered and used on a regular basis. In fact, we sent them a good amount of business and Dan called to thank me. But it didn’t take long for the problems of the past to appear once more. The complaints flowed in and we cut Dan’s company off as a provider yet again. He called for another appointment and I actually encouraged him to come in and talk.

“I don’t understand it, Lyle,” he began. “After our last meeting I went back to the office and put in place very specific written guidelines and procedures to correct the problems you said were the cause of your firm not using us. You acknowledged that we had very competitive pricing and that we offered excellent delivery. So now I think it has to be something more. Perhaps it’s a personal thing. A prejudice of some sort … Something you don’t want to talk about. Or maybe we have offended you or wronged you in some way?”

I spent the next 20 minutes or so going over the new problems that we were encountering with Dan’s business. In reality, the new problems were the same as the old ones. These include poor quality, lack of communication, receipt of materials not ordered (actually, someone else’s orders were delivered to us) and paperwork foul-ups that had always been a source of irritation. At the end of it all, I really came to believe that Dan just didn’t get it. For sure procedures and guidelines are important, so are planning and strategizing, and all that other stuff that it takes to make an organization work. But at the end of the day, it is PEOPLE that really matter. Well-trained, disciplined and motivated people make the difference. People who care and take pride in what they do every day make the difference. Dan’s company lacked that. It was obvious in the day-to-day dealings with his team. All the written procedures and guidelines in the world are meaningless without the right people to implement and execute them.

Dan had great marketing programs and materials, top notch equipment, a fleet of excellent vehicles and the financial backing to be successful. But he lacked qualified people. I became convinced that he was either unable to see or unwilling to deal with the people problems that plagued his business. Several members of his management team were family members or friends and perhaps this contributed to the problem. Ultimately, Dan’s business failed. Dan left the industry, co-authored a book on marketing and became a business consultant. I have an autographed copy of his book.

What should be obvious to us all … In business as in sports, the team with the most talent will always prevail. And the teams without talent, regardless of how much equipment they have, what kind of a place they compete in, or how well-designed their uniforms are, will rarely, if ever, prevail. The key has always been … the attraction and sustaining of talented people. Without the right people, you will most likely always find success to be elusive.

Lyle Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com

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