Author: Lloyd Graff

Have you ever lost out on a big contract when your price and service were clearly better than the competition, but the buyer had a grudge against your old management? Whether in the business world or a myriad of other venues, fairness and logic are often trumped by emotional bias. Milton Bradley is an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, who signed a three year $30 million contract during the off-season. He is having an awful season, batting 80 points less than last year. I have watched a lot of Cub games this season and observed Bradley’s batting closely. One of…

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I talked to Bill Becker a University of Illinois professor who has gone into business with his children building mini wind turbines for city dwellers who have access to moving air. Becker answered the phone when I called his office on the North Side of Chicago. He says people are calling from all over the world to inquire about his vertical axis turbines which look more like modern sculpture than energy generator. Becker’s low cost generators cost $15,000 to $20,000 depending on the size. His bigger one has two alternators and a smaller version one. They hook directly into the…

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Tony Dungy, the coach of the Indianapolis Colts, and Lovie Smith, coach of the Chicago Bears, are close personal friends who talk to each other at 5:00 a.m. every Monday morning during the NFL regular season. They are also the this year’s two Super Bowl Coaches. The parallels between the management styles of the first two black coaches to run teams in the BIG GAME are suggestive of important shifts in business management at this point in American history. Dungy and Smith are both soft spoken, religious, Christian men. They deflect personal notoriety and celebrity and both continually praise their…

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One of the great things about doing this magazine is finding out that people actually read it, and some even like it. I received a call from Paul Ikasalo, the manufacturing manager at F.H. Peterson of Stoughton, Massachusetts. Paul liked my Swarf piece in November when I declared my self-exile from the email world. He called me at 708-535-2200 and on my cell phone (708-380-8530) to say hello and endorse my email boycott. He hates the sterility and pollution of web messaging. We had a hearty conversation for twenty minutes discussing the business approach at his sixty-person job shop near…

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In the last few days, in New York and Chicago there have been killings of young African-American men by the police, inciting the black communities in those cities. Neither victim was a hardcore criminal. It is quite possible both young men were in the wrong place at the wrong time and were confronted by cops who were extremely scared. It is a lousy time to be a young black man in America. I write this from the vantage point of a well-off 61 year-old white guy who happens to live right next door to Black America. I get a pretty…

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A recent conversation has me thinking that the old screw machine world has been turned on its head and the change is falling out of its pockets. I was talking to an old machining client, and he mentioned that in the last quarter he derived more money from his scrap than from the components he had made. This fellow runs a sophisticated machining company—no dumb washers—so he adds a lot of value to his machined components. Still, this quarter his scrap brought in more dollars than his product. This is a testament to global sourcing and manufacturing efficiency, but it…

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