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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Say Yes

Necessity is the mother of invention! Even though you have never done something before, if you are confident and knowledgeable and think you can do it, say "Yes" to your customer and then go figure out how to fulfill their request. 

Key Question:


Accommodate a customer's request.

Q:  Shouldn't you always tell your customers the complete truth?

A: Yes, and Mike was well-served when he told Disney that he "knew" he could do it although he had never done it before. Mike says, "Disney did not ask if I had ever bent logs before; they asked if I could bend logs." Mike knew enough about the nature of logs, he could feel it happening in his mind's eye so much so he also knew he could risk the time and effort to do something that had not been done before.
They bent the logs, and Oregon Logs Homes won the contract to complete the construction of Disney's Wilderness Lodge in Orlando.

The knowledge and confidence are key here. After years of working with logs, Mike knew he and his crew could do virtually anything with a log. So you don't tell a customer "Yes" if you have no depth of experience on which to lean. Handle customer requests by telling them what you can do, not what you can't do.

Disney detected in Mike and his crew enthusiasm, creativity and determination. These are important qualities which are needed by every small business owner.

Think about it

What could you do that you are not now doing for customers or future customers? Are there untapped assets in your employee talent pool? Do you have equipment that is not being fully exploited?

Clip from: Oregon Log Homes - they're building beauty.

National Home Builders'  "Best in America" Award

Oregon: As a young ski instructor on Mount Hood, Mike Neary built his first log home for himself.  When friends and family all bragged on it and wanted a log home too, he knew he had stumbled on to his life's work.

Today his company, Oregon Log Homes, builds the most beautiful log homes in the world.  The National Home Builders Association gave it "The Best In American Living" award and that won the attention of Disney.  Oregon Log Home was given the opportunity to build the Fort Wilderness Lodge in Orlando.

While much of the work is done by hand, Mike invented a way to automate some of the process which keeps the company competitive while still thoroughly unique.

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Oregon Log Homes, Inc.

Mike Neary, CEO, founder

1399 N. Highway 197
Maupin, OR 97037

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Year Founded:

Say Yes

HATTIE: What do you think you were doing better or more uniquely or in a different way from your competitors?

MIKE: Well, one of the things that they liked is when they'd ask us, `Well, can you do this?' We'd say, `Yes, we can do that.' And then, of course, we had to scramble and figure out how the heck to do it. But we have an incredible crew and MillCraft at our other operation. When we'd give them a challenge, they would have it figured out.

HATTIE: So even if you've never done something before, if you have a customer who says, `Can you give us bent rails?' you say, `Yes,' then try to come up with a solution?

MIKE: Right. We try to figure it out later.

HATTIE: What I think that you can teach all small-business owners from that exact moment is that when we listen to our customers and we are positive and optimistic and say yes, that almost forces us into a new way of doing.

MIKE: Right. Beause first we had to figure out how to build it. The architects did a beautiful job of making it look real pretty. Well, we had to figure out how it was going to work, so our drafting department and our project managers did that. And so that was difficult in that we had to stay ahead of the game. There was a time limit on this. It had to be done at a certain time.

In the Studio

HATTIE: Mike just said it's OK to tell a customer, "Yes", even if you've never done it before, and even if at the time you say yes, you're not quite sure how you're going to do it. Let's try to understand why Mike, who seems smart and thoughtful, would give us advice that may on the surface seem foolish.

After 20 years of building log homes, Mike got an opportunity, along with three other builders, to work on the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World. Now here's what happened. Those four builders were offered the opportunity to work on just 10 percent of the project. During that work, the Disney architects would often ask, `Can you do something?' And Mike would jump in and say, `Of course, we can do it.' In fact, they asked him, `Can you bend logs?' He said, `Sure,' hung up the phone and said, `Well, we've never done this before.' But they built a steam room. They figured they needed to soak the logs, steam them, bend them and they were successful. They shipped the bent logs; everybody was happy. And because of his attitude, he believes, that's why he won the other 90 percent of the contract.

What is Mike saying? If you're going to build your business, when you are approached with a problem, you must be confident, not only just in yourself, but in your people and their ability to deliver on a promise. This is a mind-set. You approach a problem, not with doubt, but with boldness. I see this over and over again. Small-business owners must be willing to take calculated risks. I call it `preparation,' racing to meet opportunity.

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