Featured Column: Bringin’ it all Back Home

This is the conclusion of Dan Strongin’s series of columns, click here for his author archives.

This is the final post of my series, and I intend to tie together some of the earlier pieces, and hopefully leave you all with a clearer picture of just what makes Nelson-Jameson such a special company.

Dan: What are the advantages of buying from a family business?

Jerry: Over the years I’ve asked or have been asked “Who is most responsible for bad cheese being made?” The answers generally range from “cultures” to this, that, and the other. But a wise person once gave me an answer that I think is most accurate: “the accountants.” This person had lots of experience in cheesemaking and consulting; it is a good point to consider further.

One of the things that happens, when the numbers come out, you hear explanations right away. But these are just stories. They look at only 1/32nd of the elephant; you really need to be looking at the whole picture to understand what’s going on. Better than cutting a half a cent here or there by buying from a corporate gorilla, they could choose Nelson-Jameson and save a lot more money, overall, without sacrificing the quality they want, or cutting on things that destroy the quality of their product.

John: Accountants are great when there’s a “godfather” sitting in the lead chair, and the Godfather says “yes, it could save half a cent, but it’s going to ruin the quality” and it goes away.

Author’s Note: Very true, accountants are but one part of the team, and are not supposed to run the company. Cost accounting is set up in such a way as to lead people to very bad decisions if they aren’t careful. In fact, it wasn’t created to help people run businesses: it was set up after 1929 so investors could figure out the value of their investments. An investor is a wonderful thing, but, as we have seen, they are in it for the short run. Even good companies take a nosedive when they begin to obsess about paying the lowest price. Read the article here.

It’s horrible to say, but many people in business are not savvy about how money is really made, so they leap on slick sounding solutions, allowing their accountant or the reports in QuickBooks to dictate how to run their business. Making money in business is not just about counting and controlling, but about increasing knowledge and the rate of flow. (Watch a 12 minute YouTube video focusing on how to use flow to better measure how money is made here and then how excess inventory can block the flow here, a challenge Nelson-Jameson can help you with.)

John:  The only worse thing they could do is go to a lawyer and ask him what to do. (Laughter) One of the things we dearly love to do, is a sort of recruiting program for vendors. This is especially the case for those that have a good product, but don’t know how to get into the national market. It’s just a win-win proposition. We can make a lot of money for people like that, and in the meantime make money for ourselves by adding the products they’ve created and serve our customers in the bargain. Linking up with them is an important thing. Unfortunately, some of them have been told along the line that dealing with the “middleman” is terrible… We know a guy that spent his whole life trying to sell a product for protein analysis, but never got it done; he and his wife spent their lives going from tradeshow to tradeshow with a card table.

Dan:  You just can’t be good at everything. One of the things I like about your company is you really think things through for yourselves, and that you don’t just take an instant pudding solution and throw it in the mix. It’s not enough just to imitate what other people do. Being given an in depth and personal glimpse into what makes Nelson-Jameson and those who own, manage, and work in it tick, I am left with a sense of gratitude. Few business stories have such a deeply ethical storyline as that of Nelson-Jameson’s. You see, contrary to all the media hype about brutal competition and war as an analogy for business, good business is about connections and long-term relationships. Those who can collaborate where it makes sense seem to gain the upper hand in the long term.

We have seen how the money in the supply chain can be managed to ensure you get a greater share by focusing on what you do best and how working with Nelson-Jameson to take advantage of what they do best will assist your operation. We have shared together a clear picture of a healthy family-owned company, responsible to the community, who thrive because they do for you what would otherwise be too costly for you to do, even if you don’t realize the price you are paying to do otherwise. So, in honor of their 65th year, I recommend you seriously consider turning to them to take care of your needs, where they can, in this increasingly global and complex world, and use the resources saved to focus on making great product and selling it!  It is my sincere and honest hope that you have found these last three months useful and interesting. If you have any questions, or ever think you might need some Deming magic, please visit the Deming Collaboration website, or mine. IN the meantime, I invite you to read my monthly column in the Cheese Reporter.

Being given an in depth and personal glimpse into what makes Nelson-Jameson and those who own, manage, and work in it tick, I am left with a sense of gratitude. Few business stories have such a deeply ethical storyline as that of Nelson-Jameson’s. You see, contrary to all the media hype about brutal competition and war as an analogy for business, good business is about connections and long-term relationships. Those who can collaborate where it makes sense seem to gain the upper hand in the long term.

We have seen how the money in the supply chain can be managed to ensure you get a greater share by focusing on what you do best and how working with Nelson-Jameson to take advantage of what they do best will assist your operation. We have shared together a clear picture of a healthy family-owned company, responsible to the community, who thrive because they do for you what would otherwise be too costly for you to do, even if you don’t realize the price you are paying to do otherwise. So, in honor of their 65th year, I recommend you seriously consider turning to them to take care of your needs, where they can, in this increasingly global and complex world, and use the resources saved to focus on making great product and selling it!  It is my sincere and honest hope that you have found these last three months useful and interesting. If you have any questions, or ever think you might need some Deming magic, please visit the Deming Collaboration website, or mine:www.demingcollaboration.com or danstrongin.com. IN the meantime, I invite you to read my monthly column in the Cheese Reporter.

A Picture of Dan Strongin

About Dan Strongin

Dan Strongin is a well-known name in the food industry. Strongin began his career in the food industry on the front lines as a chef. For two decades he worked as a five-star chef, including seven years with the Ritz Carlton Corporation. His passion for food and excellence was then put to work as the corporate chef and director of delicatessen operations for Andronico’s Markets, San Francisco. From 1995 to 1996 he served as the president of the American Cheese Society. He then became a managing partner and owner of Edible Solutions, a consulting company, and currently is a columnist for the Cheese Reporter. As a mentor for companies through Deming Collaboration, Strongin focuses on working with companies on effective management, strategic planning and marketing, and production systems.
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