Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020 - 6

BRIEFINGS

FORETHOUGHT

Renewable energy

D

Galynn Nordstrom
senior editor

oing some recent reading on entrepreneurship, I came across an
article in Forbes magazine, in which the author, Dr. Steven Berglas,
gives some tips to budding businesspeople, beginning with:
1. Marry a June Bride (or Be One). He explains that the concept
of, or preference for, a "June bride" isn't that most marriages are held in
the summer because of pleasant weather; rather, it's because "back
in the day," the moment children graduated from high school they were
kicked out of the house. To make that prospect less threatening, Berglas
continues, many graduates decided to get married right away (in June)
to lessen the anxiety of going off on one's own.
When starting a business, he concludes, that translates to some
good advice: look for partners when starting or expanding a business.
Personally, I got married nine years after graduation (in March), which
gives me considerably more to think about. But in terms of business
planning and growth, I thought about this advice when re-reading
"Ready, set, grow" (page 45 in this issue) and pairing it with "Sustaining
a family business" on page 54, a discussion of Richard Seaman's book
A Vibrant Vision: The Entrepreneurship of Multigenerational Family Business.
Forming an official partnership is one effective way to cushion
economic lows and bolster the highs (no upholstery puns intended).
But in operational terms, what I hear and write about, more and more,
is that business owners and managers are turning to their

PERSPECTIVE

Trailer camping, renewed
Bob Grambsch, president of Canvas Replacements/Camper
& Recreation Inc. in Loyal, Wis., built a new company with
his father, Clyde, when a competitor shut down its camping
trailer line-and when customers started contacting him about
replacement tents, he realized that sewing had to become
part of his repertoire. Today, Canvas Replacements has ten
employees working in the sewing department. The purchase
became a template for growth, rejuvenating the trailer camping market with new,
high-quality tent tops. The company has also branched out into cushion covers,
curtains and awnings for retro hardside campers. "Back in '91 or '92 I would wonder
how long this would last-when would we run out of campers to cut and recanvas?
It hasn't happened yet," says Grambsch. For the rest of the story, turn to page 24.
If you'd like to nominate a fellow IFAI manufacturer member for coverage in a
future "Perspective" article, please contact Galynn Nordstrom, senior editor, at

Old ideas can sometimes use
new buildings. New ideas
must use old buildings.
~Jane Jacobs

customers-and their competitors-
for advice and guidance on growth.
For example, this month's Perspective
subject, Bob Grambsch, says that
customer requests were the beginning
of Canvas Replacements. It isn't always
that straightforward, naturally, but it's
a lot easier to research customer
preferences when they're splashed
all over the internet. Develop a product
and find an audience, or find an audience
and develop a product? It's still an
innovation if you develop it after first
finding out what people want.
Dr. Berglas also advised readers to "be
a thief": borrow ideas, repackage, revise,
re-apply. There's a level of uneasiness about
these tactics, admittedly; but if you decide
to create a new version of a "Pet Rock" as
an anchoring device for tents, isn't that
an innovation? You can watch what your
competitors are doing, and you can learn
a lot from similar businesses in similar
markets, or in dissimilar markets. And
often, you can discuss it with them directly.
There's a third source of business
partnership that's fast coming to the fore:
learning from your employees. Not just
listening to them, but turning them into
creative teams around different areas
of operation, whether manufacturing,
marketing, installation, customer service
or new product development. With the
critical need to find, train and retain
skilled employees, making it clear that
they're a resource, and not an expenditure,
could be another valuable recruiting tactic.

Direc

i

gdnordstrom@ifai.com.

6 REVIEW MARCH 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020

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