Day 89: What Should I Do For My Local Employers?

Day 89:  What should I do for my local employers?  This is a big topic.  There are so many options.  If you need some ideas go to LinkedIn and join the existing business groups.  Besides holding an annual event as discussed yesterday or holding regular visits as I discussed on Day 10 there are so many things you could do.  But here is a story with lots of lessons: Many years ago in a town of 4000 people a brand name company that has been around for 50 years had an operation in this small town.  The company had located there in 1963.  This company was a very large commercial household name bakery that employed 600 people.  The company made the location decision because in 1963 the community was the company President’s home town.  Not much science went into the location.  At the time I was with the utility company and the bakery was a large customer.  I would pay for the economic development professional and some of his board members to go and visit corporate headquarters every year.  Sometimes I would go on the visit.  Sometimes we even had the Governor with us.  Because of these yearly visits the company leadership at that time developed a soft spot for the community.  On the 30th anniversary of the company in the community, the company officials called and said we would like to make a big splash for the anniversary.  We want to thank the community and our employees in a big way.  That summer they hired a carnival to come in for the day.  I mean a State Fair sized carnival!  In the morning the employees and their families could go on the rides.  In the afternoon they opened it up to the community.  They had a huge lunch and fed all 600 employees and their families.  I don’t mean a boxed lunch.  They had brought in chefs and served wonderful food.   To make this an even greater event, the company said they would rent buses and take anyone from corporate that wanted to go.  This was a five hour bus ride!  They had three buses from corporate make the drive!   We were on top of the world.  I mean this was the best existing business relations anyone could do.  A year later the company was not doing so well (maybe spent too much on the event!).  The management team was fired.  One year after that, the plant was closed in this small town.  It was devastating.  Of course, the location had never been ideal.  This was a small town on a two lane road not really near much of a population and this was a food company.  So they moved the operation to another facility that was closer to a much larger population center.  You may be saying to yourself,  “Clark, this story doesn’t really make a case for taking care of existing business.”  Yes, we were devastated. But, would we do it again.  You bet.  This small community had the hearts of the management of this very big company for a while.  It prolonged a decision that would eventually be made because the initial decision was made for personal reasons rather than business reasons.  This large company is still around and still a household name.  And the small town of 4000 had, at the peak, 700 people working here for thirty years.  What an economic impact.  So, please make sure you make corporate visits every year.  When the company has to decide between two existing locations and one of them has visited every year, this will pull a lot of weight because the community literally has a face.  Next:  Existing Business Stories continued.

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