business news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story last week about the fittest and fattest cities in the US, and noted that all of the top ten fittest communities were in the western US. Which prompted MNB user Bill Gardner to write:

Regarding your comments about the fittest and fattest cities, you say those of us who live in the fittest cities seem to live balanced lifestyles,
understanding the importance of exercise and appreciate the importance of pleasure in a rounded and well-lived life.

Well, there are two sides to that. I'm not a native Coloradoan, but have lived hear more than five years and have hired seven staff members in that time. Give me that good old fashioned Midwestern work ethic any day! I've discovered there's such a thing as enjoying that "rounded and well-lived" life too much. Some people are way more concerned about hiking, biking, skiing, etc., than they are about their jobs. They don't put forth any extra effort, complain when they're asked to do anything beyond the basics of their jobs, and seldom, if ever, work one minute beyond the normal work day.

I don't expect my staff to work 60-hour weeks, or even more than 40 hours, but if the occasion arises when we have to stay past 5, come in early, or even work the weekend, I expect them to do it. Fortunately, my staff understands that. Two of the three are from the Midwest. One is from California, but went to high school here. He's one of the few "locals" I've met that actually has a strong work ethic.

It's good to live a rounded life and have a life outside of work, but
working hard and doing a good job can also add to life's satisfactions.

Well, we know some Californians who are workaholics…so we’re not sure that it makes sense to generalize too much.

We had a story last week about how major chains are starting to stock more Kosher foods, which is putting pressure on some neighborhood stores that have long been the exclusive marketers of such items.

MNB user Myron D. Winkelman responded:

As a Jew who keeps kosher, I am delighted that the large food chains carry more and more kosher products. I agree fully with your assessment that there is no special cache associated with being small; these businesses need to be able to compete with the big boys on price, service and more. Importantly, orthodox Jews tend to have large families, so they spend far more per household on food than others. And kosher foods tend to be more expensive, so the savings potential from mass distribution is very important. Finally, as to the ‘appeal’ from the rabbis, it should be noted that many rabbis are ‘employed’ to supervise the adherence to Kashrut standards, particularly for butchers and bakeries. So the appeal may be quite self-serving, as a way to preserve their hegemony and revenue!

Another MNB user wrote:

Having come from Chicago, I have shopped many times at these small Kosher stores. Now that I live in a smaller market...with only one kosher market to shop at, personally, I'd tell Jewel to BRING IT ON!!!

I would love for the Jewel here to take on the small kosher grocery store - or for that matter any large grocery store. The small market owners think they should receive the business just because they are Jewish, yet, their stores are dirty, lack good customer service, and are over-priced.

Jewel can come into the market, offer an incredible selection, in a clean store, with good service (and yes, they also have good prices). Why shouldn't people shop at Jewel? If the small business owners are "concerned" about losing their business, they should just step it up a like the big chains do when Wal-Mart comes screaming into town. Compete against them, where they know they can win. Not in price, but by exceptional service, clean stores etc...

Last week we had a story about Winn-Dixie, and noted that “hiring a new CEO usually never improves morale.” To which one MNB user responded:

While usually that may be true, hiring the “right” CEO can certainly make a positive difference not only in morale, but in actual performance.

Over the last 15 months I have watched my own company transform itself not in small part by new management with a clear vision and a CEO who can manage that vision, in partnership with those of us who were already here, into real tactical execution.

A new CEO, no matter how great, is never the total solution, but is instead only one of the many potential elements in a successful turn-around. Since shareholders, boards and analysts have not the time nor inclination to really understand what is happening below the senior management there is the temptation to believe that the extremely competent and highly-paid CEO is the answer. I become very concerned about a company when I read about is what the CEO is doing or not doing. The CEO can only be successful if the bottom half of the pyramid is up to the challenge. Spend less time focused on the CEO and more time focused on the customers’ wants and needs.

Our lead and exclusive Superquinn story this morning actually was first posted yesterday morning on MNB; we believed that this was an important enough piece to run over the weekend (and send out an email promoting) in part because Feargal Quinn is a legendary figure in the industry, and in part because this would be the equivalent of Publix or HEB being sold in the US.

But while not everyone reads their work email on Sundays, a number of people do…and we’ve already gotten some letters in response to the sale of Superquinn.

MNB user Glen Terbeek wrote:

Superquinn is one of the last great RELEVENT supermarket operators: RELEVENT to the shoppers in the local marketplace and RELEVENT to the employees. They have done so much for the industry worldwide. I hope the new ownership enables the Superquinn spirit to continue and reach new heights.

MNB user Chuck Kilgore wrote:

We could use more of the management style Superquinn has demonstrated over the years here in the US food market. I visited one of the stores several years ago and was impressed at how welcome the store personnel made me feel. The loyalty and dedication of the employees to their company was also very encouraging to witness.

I wish them the best.

MNB user Marv Imus wrote:

Yup, saddened and depressed on this news. I am very glad for the family and fully understand the move for all the reasons you mentioned, but it still comes down to the small Independent will not be able to survive.

And MNB user Ted File wrote:

Thanks for an objective, personal, and beautiful commendation to one of the world's great independent operators. We have all enjoyed the experience of listening to the Quinn's as they appeared on various they FMI, GMA, or many others. Wishing them new successes and opportunities won't cut it; as it seems like they have found a partner(s) that will continue to thrive and prosper the Company in the Quinn tradition.
KC's View: