I’m thoroughly convinced that that there are no such things as coincidences in life. A few weeks ago I received a call from Spruce Computers in Albany, New York and was told I had been referred by David Niehaus, Vice President of Sales of Niehaus Companies of Indiana. John LaFave, Director of Marketing of Spruce Computers was looking for a keynote speaker for their convention and David had recommended me. What a nice recommendation.
I hadn’t hear from David in years, sent him a thank you note and asked if we might talk and catch up on life.
Which brings me to this blog.
I asked David how they were doing in this miserable economy and he said, “we’ve decided not to participate in the recession.” I laughed and told him not only would it make a good blog title but I was sure he had some ideas as to how “not to participate.”
First some background on David and Niehaus Companies. Niehaus Companies is a 9 store chain, 4th generation retail home center started by Benjamin and Francis Niehaus . The business was started in 1933 in the great depression with unemployment at 25%. In November of 1944, Francis died of tuberculosis and Naomi Niehaus, the young widow and mother of two small children, came into the business to carry on the business. During this time Naomi ran the lumber yard until her son, Bernie, graduated from Michigan State in 1959.The business continued to grow and in 1996 it became the Neihaus Home Centers. At this point there are 19 grand kids with many already participating in the business.
I asked David if he remembered anything about the depression to which he replied he didn’t. What he did remember was both his grandfather and father were the most optimistic people he had ever known.
“In fact I have no idea how my dad has managed to be so optimistic all these years but he still comes to work and amazes me with his attitude, says David, I have never heard him complain about anything. I’m sure this is how we’ve survived and continued to grow.”
I’ve asked David to share his secrets for success, especially if his company is not participating in the recession!
- Never look back, what happened in the past has passed and it really has no bearing on the future. Each day is different, times are different and what worked in the past may or may not work in the future.
- Just keep on going and growing. There are always opportunities despite the economy. You must keep on looking for these opportunities and keep yourself liquid enough to take advantage of what’s possible. As mom used to say, “save some for a rainy day.”
- Watch your competitors and look for an opportunity to take market share. If you don’t seize market share when it’s available someone else will.
- Focus on your business and stay on your path. Do what you know and learn what you don’t know. Your core business is what will keep you going.
- Energize your employees whenever possible; they’re the backbone of your business. Anyone who interfaces with your customers is your business partner. Treat them with respect and demand accountability from these business partners.
- Winning takes a team; no one can do it alone. You must rely on everyone to do their share and go for the gold.
- Believe in yourself and set your own standards. If you are governed by standards of everyone in your marketplace you will be continually stressed and playing “catch up.”
- Motivate yourself with new ideas. Look outside your industry for “out of the box” ideas.
- Have people on your team who believe in your mission and your “game plan.” Get rid of the “naysayers” and keep yourself surrounded with like thinkers.
- Always be willing to change the plan. The dinosaurs were the biggest but were unable to change and adapt to new conditions. We know what happened to them.
With these thoughts in mind I can understand why Niehaus Home Centers is not interested in participating in the recession. They don’t need to.
Lisbeth Calandrino is associate publisher of Fabulous Floors Magazine and author of Red Hot Customer Service, 35 Ways to Heat up Your Business and Ignite Your Sales. For training or speaking, Lisbeth can be reached at redhotcustomerservice @nycap.rr.com