Returning to Charlotte: Luck in business

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north carolina construction newsIn a few hours, I’ll be on a non-stop flight to Charlotte, NC, for a hand-over management meeting of our company’s publications in North and South Carolina. I shouldn’t be there, if I had followed the business management and expansion textbooks. In fact, you might be able to make a point that i shouldn’t even be in business at all today because of my blunders a decade ago that resulted in me starting the original North Carolina publication.

There isn’t time to go into the whole story here, but my original US business expansion in the early part of the last decade was a study in mismanagement and the initial decision to open what was then “Charlotte Construction News” went beyond mismanagement to the absurd. We started the publication as our overall company was bleeding cash, essentially, to put a few short-term commission dollars into the pockets of a sales representative/publisher who followed a “slash and burn” marketing methodology — and I did nothing to stop the train-wreck.

I should have seen these issues, but had far “bigger” issues on my mind — cracking Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. (I know, while temporarily achieving success in dismantling an airline’s frequent-flyer program might be a worthy cause, it hardly qualifies for the correct priority when my business was at risk of imploding, which it soon did.)

Yes, today’s travel is made possible in part  because of the frequent flyer point knowledge — the non-stop flight outbound (with a single stop return flight tomorrow) will set my company back $137.00. But where were my priorities then, and why couldn’t I see that you don’t expand a business using models, practices and techniques that would cause its failure? . . .

Of course, as much as I’d like to say I had good business qualities for success including perseverance and the ability to learn and change from mistakes (we’ve reformed our business practices in many ways), there still is plenty of luck here –including retiring publisher Bob Kruhm‘s arrival on the scene just as the world seemed to be falling apart in 2005-06, allowing me to retain the US foothold.

At noon, I’ll meet Bob, who is retiring, along with Lindsey Wilson who will oversee North Carolina Construction News and Brian Gallagher, who is taking charge of South Carolina Construction News.  Then I’ll attend the 12th annual Associated Builders and Contractors Excellence in Construction Awards — where our publication supplement will be distributed.

As the day unfolds, I’ll thank my lucky stars.

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