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Key Idea: Recruit From Big Business

Pete Gregory worked for big chains then joined his brother to help grow Feasel Paint.

Key Question:

A: 

Hire someone who has worked in a big company.  Pete had big business experience and John wanted to learn what Pete knew from his years in a large corporation.

Q:
What are the ups and downs of hiring from big business?

A: The problems include: 1) Big companies succeed by keeping employees in a pigeonhole. Every person on the payroll has a very small highly-defined job and they are not to initiate. Imagine the mess if 236,000 IBM employees each did what they thought best in every situation? Systems would break down. In small business we want every employee to use their best judgment, to be creative and to initiate efforts that would serve the customers. 2) Big companies are a great place for the unmotivated to hide. Jobs are so small and payroll so large that a non-productive person can get lost in the shuffle and not produce but still get a paycheck. Small business can't afford to have any dead weight. 3) Big companies put everything in writing and some people really need that structure.

The benefits include: 1) People from a big company can think big and are accustomed to economies of scale. They understand that adding a location is not impossible and could be the smartest way for you to grow. 2) People from a big company are used to quality marketing and sales messaging and can push you to improve yours. 3) People from a big company have probably had hours and hours of business education and training that they may be able to share with you and your team. 4) People from a big company know how to work from a spread sheet and stick to a budget.

Think about it

Do you know someone that you should hire who is fed up with the bureaucracy of big business?

Clip from: Feasel of DeLand, Florida and the Rebirth of Downtown

DeLand, Florida: Just northeast of Orlando, this town personifies the statement, "Big business homogenizes. Small business diversifies."

On the Main Street of this town they celebrate the rich variety of one-of-a kind shops owned by locals.  Just on the outskirts of town looms the big-box retailers.  How does a family-owned hardware store on Main Street survive? How can they compete?  

We do not have any simple answers. We do know that small businesses must develop a many-sided customer relation that competes in value against the volume discounters.

When we taped this episode of the show, Feasel Paint & Glass  was being slammed by by nearby discounters, both Home Depot and Lowe. And, we are sorry to report that this downtown store closed on December 9, 2008 (more).

We were fighting for the small businesses.  We still do.  Up until the store's closure, we had encouraged people to drop in on Feasel's on Main Street and buy something.  We talked with the new owner, Mike Woosley.  He's a very nice person.  He was optimistic and we all wanted to encourage their esprit de corps for their role in the continued Main Street revitalization.

This town, cited by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a "Great American Main Street" award winner, the people of Feasel Paint & Glass are helping to paint that picture.

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Feasel Paint and Glass

John Gregory,

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Recruit From Big Business

PETE: Our father was a chain store manager ... 15 years ago . . . the McCrory corporation. We went from Pennsylvania to South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, as a result of his being transferred. And all of us, at one time or another, handled stock, received freight, swept floors, washed the windows, dressed windows. I used to be a window trimmer. Just simply by being there, we obviously got involved in part of that business.

HATTIE: Why is it that you said to Pete, `Hey, why don't you come in with me?'

JOHN: Well, I figured I'd needed some of his expertise. He had been a store manager with W.T. Grant. Needed to boost my capital a little bit, you know, for funding of it. I just figured that we could do better together than--might make it a little easier than going one-on-one.

PETE: I'd always told him that if anything ever developed here to at least give me a shot at it. And between those various conversations, that's how I've ended up here.

HATTIE: Advice here? Should somebody buy a business that they know a lot about or would they do just as well if they bought a business they didn't know anything about?

PETE: Well, I think if you have an understanding of the buy and sell and customer relation part of the business, I don't think it really matters. If you have that desire to sell, you get the enjoyment out of having helped someone select a product and see them leave happy, that's the beginning reward or the initial reward. And if you have those tendencies and those capabilities, I don't think it matters what business you've got. Whether you buy an existing or build your own or one just happens to fall into your lap, you're gonna enjoy it and be successful at it. You've got to have some enjoyment in what you're doing, and to me, the enjoyment in the retail business is seeing that customer that is content, to happy, to fully satisfied with what they've bought.

HATTIE: What did you learn from the big retailing environment that you wanted to bring with you to your store? And what did you learn that you didn't want to bring with you?

PETE: Well, the large corporations and especially the chains operate on some pretty strict management guidelines, and for good reason. If the district manager of a particular chain has a problem in any one particular store, it's probably a result of somebody not following a particular guideline. And they're both talking the same language when they're talking about that particular guideline; long distance they're talking. A lot of the corporate structure would not fit into an operation like this. The narrow-mindedness of the corporate structure would not fit into a business like this.

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