Keep Moving Forward

  Today we have a guest blog from Jennifer Murphy, the vice president and COO at NetPlus Alliance. Two years ago at the Industrial Supply Association Product Show and Conference, I was fortunate to attend one of the educational tracks hosted by a former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitans. His presentation related his experiences as a SEAL to the challenges we face in life, both personally and professionally. Greitans served abroad first as a humanitarian, and then on the front lines in Afghanistan post-9/11. His book, The Heart and Fist, has a permanent place on my nightstand and I reread the pages that I’ve dog-eared whenever I need a reminder to keep my head up and continue to move forward. I have many years to go before I am a veteran of this industry. I’ve worked at NetPlus Alliance, a buying group for industrial and contractor supplies distributors, for only seven short years. This pales in comparison to my father, Dan Judge, who’s been around the industry for almost 50. I’ve learned from him, though, about the tough times that our family distribution business, Ward Beals & McCarthy, faced over the years, and how hard it was for him to sell the assets of that business to a bigger company back when I was in college. He kept the corporation intact, and now I am the fifth generation of an industrial business that was started by my great uncles in 1931. During the recession in 2009, we also heard from many of our distributors about the challenges that they faced. Our members that survived fought hard to gain back the ground that was lost, but the road ahead is still uncertain. The challenges many of us face now, although different from what my great uncles faced, are no less frightening than…read more >

From MAGNET: Fail Fast, Fail Cheap

Each month we'll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET's mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. This post originally appeared on MAGNET's  Manufacturing Success blog and is reposted with permission. Fail Fast, Fail Cheap By Robert Schmidt, Growth & Innovation Advisor, MAGNET We need to be innovative—you know, try new things! Building on those that seem to work and quickly eliminating those that don’t work out as we had envisioned. The proven method I use in this case would be the “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap” (FFFC) method. How do we go about this? Simply stop spending time and money on developing new processes, products, or  marketing messages without trying it out. You want to find out if your concept is a good one? Find out in a fast, easy, and inexpensive way. Bottom line is: The key to fail fast fail cheap is to spend minimum resources to get the concept off the paper (or your mind) and into the application so you can tell if it needs to be changed, destroyed, or finalized. FFFC follows Demings “Plan, Do, Study, Act” model. In a rapid succession of learning cycles you try out your idea, learn from that experience, modify and try again- all on a shoestring budget.  Fast trumps elegant early on. An example would be to develop a look-alike or “Frankenstein” prototype made from on-hand or commercially available materials. The Frankenstein prototype gathers critical feedback from potential customers/users. Their reactions (likes, dislikes, concerns) help you determine if investing further resources makes sense and guides your step of development. Its much like taking on an entrepreneur mindset, forcing creativity and short…read more >