On Mar 17, 2013
Isn't it tough to argue with a success rate like that!
And, that's just the introduction to the Knapp Fasteners' family-business success story.
Jenny Knapp presented her family business story at our Centre For Family Business [CFFB] February breakfast event. Knapp Fasteners is a successful local company and a member of CFFB. CFFB is a local association, created by members to support, educate, & energize people who work at family businesses.
Jenny stepped up to the plate last month, volunteering to present her family-business story to CFFB members and corporate partners.
Jenny's story 'hit it out of the park': a perfect mix of humour, family and interpersonal sincerity, and business savvy.
Here a sample of the highlights Jenny shared as she told the Knapp Fasteners' story:
- in business for 26 years. [Well done!]
- Knapp Fasteners is a distributor; they package and resell fasteners. [here's a link to Knapp Fasteners website]
- Jenny studied business at our fine, local, Conestoga College.
- Just after they were married, Jenny and her husband Jim founded Knapp Fasteners.
- The business started small - in 1987, with a $15,000 loan in hand, they rented 1000 square feet of space on Colby Drive, Waterloo.
- Knapp Fasteners, like many start-ups, had to figure out how to manage the cash-flow squeeze...suppliers wanted up-front payment while clients wanted 30 days to pay...the Knapps solved that problem [This is an inspiring fact, of benefit to other CFFB members who struggle with cash-flow squeeze.]
- Parents helped out...it was family effort from the start.
- Knapp Fasteners had a great first year, with sales results exceeding forecast by a factor of two.
- But...quick, early growth brought some serious problems.
- Knapp Fasteners took a big hit in their first year of operation when one of their clients went bankrupt...again, Knapp Fasteners' ability to manage this problem provided another lesson of value to the audience. The solution involved Jim's brother Dave, who loaned money to cover the problem. What a vote of confidence...and a terrific example of how families inject value into our local business sector. Many years later, in 2010, Dave joined the company...he now works with Jenny and Jim.
- Jenny and Jim worked 70 hours per week for the first few years...that confirms the commitment required to establish a family business and make sure it is on firm ground.
- Knapp Fasteners has grown steadily and moved twice: to Bathurst Drive in Waterloo in 1989 and to the present location at 520 Boxwood Drive, Cambridge in 2010.
Jenny & Jim Knapp
Knapp Fasteners' culture promotes strong work ethic. Several people have joined and grown with the company, including family members and employees` children, who have enjoyed summer jobs at Knapp Fasteners. 'Knapp people' have friendly team competitions...clients and suppliers help pick the names for the teams...and the winning team receives a trophy at year-end. That's just one of the reasons why Knapp Fasteners is a great place to work.
Here are a few pictures of Knapp Fasteners' current home - a fine example of what 2 family businesses can build when they put their minds to it (Knapp's new home was built by Schiedel Construction, another successful, local family business).
Our community recognizes the contribution the Knapps are making: the Knapps and their company have been nominated for several awards.
In 2012, Jenny and Jim Knapp were honoured by the college they attended in the mid-1980s. They received the Conestoga College Alumni of Distinction in Business award.
Congratulations, Jenny & Jim...on a family business well run and a family-business story well told!
Thank you for sharing your story at CFFB.
On Mar 11, 2013
A related article… Do Family Businesses Have Better Values?
The @GKWCC #P2P series of thought tweets contains ideas, quotes, & suggestions provided by local business leaders at "CEO Peer-to-Peer" group meetings, sponsored by the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce.
The goals of the thought tweets: to help local business leaders and to promote the sharing of business thoughts.
The thoughts expressed are not opinions of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce...they are opinions of local business leaders who are Chamber members and participate in the Chamber's CEO P2P program.
On Feb 18, 2013
Larry Smith is an economist at UW.
When he visited CFFB in January, Larry softened that introduction by letting us know he has experience with family business...he grew up in a small town...he went through the child labour experience. That was the first hint of the presentation uniqueness about to follow.
Larry talked about the serious disruption caused by economic recessions and the importance of being able to do economic forecasts. During the recession of 1980-1981 Canadian economists could forecast. Similarly, about a decade later the Governor of the Bank of Canada visited Kitchener and confirmed he would be raising interest rates to fight inflation. That allowed Canadian economists to forecast the danger that became the economic downturn of the early 1990's.
In the last 5 years we have experienced another recession. This time inflation is gone, we are seeing a long-term, systematic decline in exports to the U.S. Larry explained, this is not a retreat. It is disengagement so, in the future, the U.S. will not pull us down with them.
About the U.S. economy:
- During the 1990's the growth in the U.S. economy was mostly 'Internet hype"...so the U.S. took a major hit in 2000
- Without mentioning names, a U.S. President ruined the economy
- one of the lowest taxes in the world/large military budget/less money for other sectors/major universities lowering enrolment & reducing class time
- more-recently - the U.S. has not had a budget for almost 4 years
- "The largest economy in the world has no fiscal plan."
"America, which could stimulate the economy around the world, is missing in action."
"The U.S. has to elect a President who is decisive and can knock heads."
And - the U.S. is still Canada's largest market.
We are separating from the U.S.
What about the rest of the world?:
- despite all its problems when compared to the U.S. Europe is well-governed
- Japan has had 8 Prime Ministers in the last 3 years
- China has 16,000,000 census takers/the entire Chinese government is 7 people
- India do not educate rural people/wealth is for the elite
- Canada may be seen as an oasis of dopiness
About Canada's economy:
- we face rising competitive pressures
- millions of Latin American people are not our competitors [ex, Brazil & Mexico]
- the Philippines, Indonesia, China, and India are all expanding as competitors
- forecast: slow growth at best for the foreseeable future
- everyone is facing competitive pressure
Larry summed up the Canadian situation, "We are in the most challenging economic environment we have ever encountered since I became a practising economist."
"This year it is hard. Next year it will be harder."
A message for 20-year-olds: "Your life will be more difficult that your parents' and your grandparents'." The standards for getting a job keep rising and co-op programs around the world are providing work-experience for young people. Employers want to hear good answers to questions like, "What ideas do you have for me, your employer?"
"Young people need to know they must offer ideas."
Is there a way out of this dilemma?
- there is no magic way
- we must not shave profit margins
- we must not reduce quality
"In your hearts, you know what you need to do..." "Let us motivate ourselves. Let us steel ourselves to do things that we may not find comfortable and attractive."
Canadians must INVENT: "I own a Canadian family business. I am an inventor." "Is that how you introduce yourself?"
Invent - and have the ability to move quickly.
"Your work is going to be exciting, scary...the antithesis of boring."
"You have the characteristic the market will reward the best."
And in closing, Larry said -
"With resolve to do what you need to do, I wish success to all of you in the exciting times in which we live."
An amazing presentation Larry...captivating, educating, & energizing.
On Jan 22, 2013
Jim Beretta spoke at our last CFFB breakfast...at The Hub.
The topic of the day was "Customer Attraction in the Google Era".
Here's a summary of some of Jim's points...
Customer Attraction #1:
- reduce customer friction everywhere in your organization
- make it easy for customers to find you
- be lean
- be responsive...next day is not good enough!
- create customers who want to work for you
- weave empathy into the DNA of your company
- invest in volunteerism...a positive differential advantage
Customer Attraction #2:
- educate, train and invest in your staff
- have an awesome website with relevant content, blogs, and tweets
- communicate with your customers
- 'eat your own dog food'
Why do these things?
When you get recommended by Google, as a top-rated site:
- you are perceived to be a leader and
- sales happen.
And, 2 key messages stood out for me:
- Be relevant...website visitors reward relevance and
- Stories are the fodder of the Internet...especially when they are told by your customers!
Thank you, Jim, for the fine presentation - full of specific ideas, examples, and recommendations. I know from talking with family business folks after your presentation - many people received a lot of value.
On Oct 9, 2012
As always, Mark educated and energized the 100+ folks who attended CFFB's 2012-2013 kick-off breakfast event.
Mark, a social psychologist, talked about social engineering...he described his "interest in how situations that you find yourself in affect what you perceive, how you think, and what you do".
He went on to talk about the importance of storytelling in business...
"You are part of the definition of the situation."
"You are a storytelling animal."
"It takes a story to really engage people."
Why should business leaders tell stories?
- people are more emotional than rational
- people use analogies to make sense of the world
- people use proxies for analysis of their complex, social worlds [to simplify the world - situations and decisions]
- people don't pay attention most of the time
Here's an interesting research fact, shared by Mark: If you want to persuade people then speak quickly [not slowly]. People who speak quickly project confidence and signal competence.
Here's one of Mark's recommendations: Become a better story listener, ask questions like
- "Tell me about __________________.",
- "How did you come to _________________?", and
- "Did something happen that _________________?"
Characteristics of good stories:
- build connection between the storyteller and the audience
- evoke emotions that serve the purpose of the storyteller
- connect with the core [driving] interests of the audience
In contrast, most business communication is:
- overly complicated
- more about the speaker than the audience
When you create business stories, be clear about your purpose: after this presentation/story/conversation my audience will ____________________, ____________________, & ___________________.
And, before you communicate, think about your audience:
- how does the audience see themselves?
- how does the audience see me? [my company? my industry?]
- how much does the audience know? [on average, speakers tend to overestimate how much the audience knows]
Mark suggested four good story buckets:
- a time you shone
- a time you blew it
- about mentors [humility & gratitude]
- books, movies, & current events
On May 23, 2012
Geordie Raine serves as Montana Consulting Group's Director, Corporate Learning.
He traveled from Montreal to speak at CFFB's breakfast event on April 27th.
Geordie described his company's Turnaround Interview® process, that is, a process for helping employees correct inappropriate behaviour. His presentation was 'hands-on'; Geordie interacted with the audience with 'role playing' and he got into details.
Turnaround Interview® has underlying assumptions. When we want to correct employee behaviour:
- we need to talk about the little things [and catalogue precise and accurate details about what, where, how, who, etc]
- we have good people, however, they do things we do not want; good people change the deal on you
- we need to understand people are predictable [we should expect defensiveness, denial, trivializing, etc]
- we need to reserve discipline for when we really need it [ie, like Spirited Leader's Master Rules concept]
Our members received copies of the Quick Reference Guide to the Turnaround Interview® . [It is an excellent little book]
The Turnaround Interview® process has 5 Steps:
- Key Question: I think we agree that this has happened X times in Y weeks. Right?
- Key Question: Do you agree this shouldn't go on forever?
- Key Question: What could you do to eliminate/control this behavior?
- Key Question: What does it make sense to do now?
- Close: the employee makes a promise to change the behavior/habit
Here's one of the many pieces of good of advice Geordie shared with us:
"In order for change to work it has got to come from within."
I have talked to a number of our members...every one of them felt Geordie's presentation was one of the most valuable presentations of the year.
Well done, Geordie!