Monday, June 19th, 2017
CAN YOU LOVE A COMPANY?
I’ll define ‘love’ so that you don’t think I’m nuts. Love is a “deep feeling of affection”.
In strictly business terms it might be called goodwill. I care about the brand’s non tangible assets–ie. its history, its stated and acted upon values, and its products that I like and trust automatically.
I have two in mind today and others to come.
(Hannaford Bros is my BCFF. I grew up professionally there. Lucky me.)
One is LL Bean. I loved it when I lived in the Midwest and got its catalogues and requested Christmas gifts from it. When we moved to Maine with five school age kids who were to start school three days after arriving. I called the school and asked, “What do kids love in your school for the first day of school this year. We just moved here.” I did as told and went directly to Beans to get Bean Boots. Five pair!! Later my adult kids came for holidays and did midnight excursions to LL Bean. I remember their chamois shirts and ragg sweaters. Even later, when I was a Hannaford executive I was lucky to have know Leon Gorman from various dinners where we sat together. And now I am so proud to have worked with the present CEO, Steve Smith. Both Steve and LL Bean are lucky. It is about as good a fit as you get. Steve is honest, frank, innovative, trusting in employee talent, progressive and a long time outdoor guy. Beans has had some unusual problems with a new system that has frustrated customers with unexpected behavior from
a company that could be almost taken for granted for stellar customer service. This is where goodwill comes in. I so trust LL Bean, that I know they are (and I mean ‘they”) killing themselves to get this new system, corrected and up and going. I am on their side. This is what you call customer loyalty. I’ll be patient. It’s a way to repay an honest company of good quality goods and exceptional customer service for years of being good to me.
While I’m declaring my love for certain companies, let me include Delhaize Belgium. This company is celebrating 150 years of continuous business. I respect its history, its passion for all things food, its constant learning as the market changes and its values stated at the beginning of the company. Like most other companies, it has had challenges and hard decisions to make. What I know and respect is that any choices that color that history or its values are extremely painful for its leadership. And that is a good thing. It means the values are alive and active.
Once again, I was lucky to work with its present CEO–Denis Knoops. He is innovative, progressive, smart about the business and cares about the integrity of the company. Here are some of the written ‘commandments’ written by the founding fathers of the company:
—Do your work well
—Persevere in everything you undertake
—You will inspire confidence if you trust yourself
—Never make a commitment you cannot honor
—See to the welfare of those who work with you. You have the care of their souls
—Do not tolerate any relaxation from anyone (This one is apt for crazy retailers everywhere–action rules)
There are more guidelines and I am touched as I read them. They instill honor with every word and assume that integrity and hard work are what makes a business thrive.
As I said, I have a deep feeling of affection for these two companies that goes beyond pride and respect.