(Time to read this Blog article is about 2 minutes)

The Challenge: Whatever product or service you sell, wherever you sell it, your market is over-served and under-differentiated. There are too many other people selling what you’re selling and most of you look, sound and charge about the same. On top of that, new competitors with disruptive business models are entering your market. Customers have more choices; they’re more demanding and less forgiving.  Speed matters, selection matters, convenience matters and price matters. So, every business is faced with shrinking margins.  

The Solution: To succeed in business today we need to create, deliver and effectively communicate compelling customer value and experiences that ‘grab’ our target customers, clearly differentiate us from our competitors, make us ‘famous’ and grow our bottom line. Then, we must proactively and effectively manage the business, embrace technology and create extraordinary operating efficiency in every department and function.  Simply put, we must be world class in everything we do. 

Some of our clients believe they can’t be or don’t need to be world class because they’re in a smaller market far from the ‘big city’. But they’re wrong. ‘World class’ is an attitude…not a location.  Mediocrity is no longer an option!     

Last week I was speaking and coaching at a National Dealer Conference in Kansas. The client, Custom Wood Products, in the tiny town of St. Marys, Kansas, commits to being ‘America’s Best Cabinet Maker’ and they go to extraordinary lengths to keep that promise.  I spent three days with these folks delivering my bottom-line insights on value differentiation, proactive marketing, effective management, profitability and succession planning.

In my 20 years of working with clients in over 40 industries around the world, seldom have I seen a company combine cutting edge engineering and technology, customer commitment, management competence and ethics, respect and humanity the way this company does.  They’re world class in a town of 2,670 people…and it starts with their attitude.  

At the Conference they introduced to their Dealers brilliant new software that will cut in half the time it takes to design, price, sell and coordinate new kitchens, pantries, bathrooms, dens, walk-in closets and any other room that needs cabinets.  This will allow their Dealers to double their sales with no additional staff expense. 

On day 2 of the Conference they took us on a factory tour that blew me away.  I grew up in a factory, and I know a great one when I see it. Their production equipment is cutting edge, their craftsmen and women are talented and passionate and their systems, processes and work flow are extraordinary.  But, as good as they are, the company recently brought in two of the world’s top wood processing technologists all the way from Germany to spend a week making the plant even more efficient, while maintaining their market-leading quality and craftmanship.  

I talked with many of the production and office team and they genuinely love working for Custom Wood Products.  They’re proud of their small-town values…and they’re proud that they’re world class.

While on the factory tour I noticed 4 beautiful, full-size grandfather clocks being lovingly crafted.  Each one in a different wood and a slightly different design.  Custom Wood Products doesn’t sell grandfather clocks. But each year they produce a limited number of these beauties as a gift to acknowledge each employee who has been with the company for 20 years. 

Are these clocks an inducement to stay with the company for the long term, or are they a ‘thank you’ for doing so?  They’re a ‘thank you’. No one’s going to stay with a company for 20 years just to get a clock.  But as a ‘thank you’ they’re incredibly powerful and honoring!”  It’s a wonderful tradition of gratitude and absolutely congruent with Custom Wood Products’ culture of kindness, excellence and celebration.

So, what can we learn from a world-class cabinet maker in a tiny town of 2,670 people in Kansas?   What can we learn about making it easier for our customers to wisely choose and effectively use what we sell?  What can we learn about embracing the latest technology and industry best practices in every part of our business?  What can we learn about creating traditions of gratitude and celebration? Remember, ‘world class’ is an attitude and a commitment…not a location.   


For info about booking Donald to deliver his bottom-line insights on management, marketing and profitability at an Industry Conference or Corporate Event…or to discus our Business Coaching program, contact us at donald@donaldcooper.com or by phone at 1 (416) 252-3703 in Toronto, Canada.

4 Responses to ‘World-class’ is an attitude, not a location:
  1. OMG I love that company. Their commitment to excellence is inspiring and shows that you don’t need to live in the Big or Little Apple to be a world-class company.

    • ‘Thanks’ Patti. “Yes” they are an amazing company. I was truly sad to leave them after just 3 days with them. We need more businesses that ‘get it’ like my client does.
      Regards…Donald C.

  2. Dear Donald,
    I really enjoy reading your Blog’s. I farm in West-Germany and Central Alberta (Canada), and always look for ways to improve the way we farm, but the first big challenge we have is like John F. Kennedy puts it:
    “The Farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, pays the freight both ways.” This Fact creates a limitation right there. I consider us as one of the most innovative’s farms in our area, but I get one try per Year. A restaurant owner can try a new Menu, and when he realize People don’t like it, he can make adjustments a week later. If we try a new Crop, a new way of treatment, or new method’s, I have to live with the majority of that decision for the rest of the year, till I can try to do it differently in the next Year.
    I do like trying new things, and it was what drove the Company in the right direction.

    Thank you very much for all the inspiration.

    Best regards,

    • Markus, great to hear from you. Amazing that you farm both in Germany and Alberta, Canada. A most interesting business model. I’d love to chat with you about that. “Yes”, farmers get just one kick at the cat each year and Mother Nature is your business partner. A challenging way to make a living. Farmers are special people and often not respected and appreciated for what they endure in order to feed humanity.

      Regards…Donald Cooper.


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