Anonymous Distributor

A recent newspaper headline stated, “Snowstorms Bring Winners and Losers.” How true that is. The winners are sellers of snow throwers, snow plowing equipment, sand and salt, as well as landscapers who push snow in the offseason. The losers include cities, businesses and landlords whose budgets are strained by the cost of all that snow to plow — and the locals dealing with messy streets, rutted alleys and missing mail deliveries.


The other headline currently catching the attention of the OPE industry is E15, which is gasoline with an ethanol content of 15 percent. The following statement presents a fair picture of the situation: “Tools such as trimmers, mowers and blowers generally use engine technologies long abandoned by carmakers such as air cooling, carburetion and, often, two-cycle engines fueled by an oil-gas mix. Ethanol blends cause engines to run leaner and hotter — modern auto engines can adjust for that; lawn mowers and chain saws cannot.”

Critics of E15 say, “A 15-percent ethanol blend would shorten engine life more than a 10-percent blend, and make more equipment prone to fuel leaks and fire hazards. Apart from causing engines to run hotter, ethanol eats away at rubber components. Ethanol also absorbs water and makes fuel unstable and destructive to engines when seasonable equipment is stored for months on end.”

Get ready to do more explaining to your customers, as they unhappily bring in equipment for repair more often than ever before. The impact on our businesses could be huge — negative and positive.


Dan McCarthy, whose “Great Leadership” blog is one of my favorites, touched on a management maxim with which he disagrees, and one that I have no great love for either. You often hear, “There is no such thing as a poor performer, there are only poor processes,” or “Don’t blame the person, fix the process.”

McCarthy says, “I’m sorry, but does anyone other than those that teach and sell this stuff, and maybe criminal defense attorneys, really believe this?

“One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned in leadership development is from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great — you start with getting the right people on the bus. Everything else follows (i.e. strategy, structure, processes and training). Without the right people — great ‘A Players’ — the rest is doomed to failure. The same is true in talent management — selection trumps training every time. No amount of training will overcome a poor selection decision.

“It makes me crazy when an organization or team will spend hundreds of hours in meetings covering walls with post-it notes in order to design idiot-proof ‘perfect processes,’ when what they really should have done is just remove the one or two idiots and turn the rest of their employees loose. It’s a cowardly way to avoid dealing with performance issues at the expense of everyone else.”

McCarthy concludes with this thought: “The key to success is to hire and develop great employees (and managers) — then empower them to deliver extraordinary results. Yes, the lack of clearly defined processes and roles may trip them up now and then — but you need to trust them that they’ll figure out a way — they always do. I’ll take a team full of ‘A players’ over a perfect process anytime.”


I’m looking forward to reading the profiles of Green Media’s 2010 selections for the “Most Influential People in the Green Industry,” which you’ll find inside this issue of Outdoor Power Equipment. In Green Media’s Oct. 29 press release that listed the 2010 selections, I recognized the names of some friends like Fred Whyte, president of Stihl Inc., or Ed Nelson, president of Rotary Corporation, or the retired Dane Scag, who is always a treat to be around, or Jim Starmer, executive VP at Dixie Sales. You see, that’s the wonderful thing about this industry…anybody can be your friend no matter what they do or who they are; they can pull you up when you’re down; they’ll listen to you when you need someone to listen; and they’ll share ideas with you when you really need them. It would be an honor to spend some time with everybody on that list, because they’ve all made a positive difference in their chosen professions. We all need to strive to be on that list. What a wonderful honor that would be.


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