Friday, March 2, 2007

U.S. hanger factories are hanging it up
Americans will always need hangers, but may not be making them much longer. Fortune's David Whitford reports on the last days of a low-tech factory.
FORTUNE Magazine
By David Whitford, Fortune
February 27 2007: 8:11 AM EST

(Fortune Magazine) -- Dan Baker had been almost 34 years at Laidlaw in Monticello, Wis., the last six as plant manager, when Tim Allen, the president, called from headquarters in Scottsdale one day last fall with bad news: The new owners were shutting down the factory and moving it to China. "He wanted me to tell everybody," says Baker. "I told him, 'Well, I don't think it's my job. But if you're not going to tell them, I will.' He decided to come, then."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Back From The Brink
Everybody knew grocer Stew Leonard as America's king of customer service--crowned by none other than Tom Peters. But Leonard went to jail for tax fraud. Now, for the first time, he talks about what everybody didn't know and what he's learned from his ordeal.
(FORTUNE Small Business)
By David Whitford
November 1, 2002

(FORTUNE Small Business) – Stew Leonard never expected it would be easy. For founders like Leonard--charismatic, bigger-than-life, take-charge kinds of guys--letting go of the family business rarely is. "Most fathers," says Leonard knowingly, "even when they are 85 and the kids are 63, are still saying, 'The kids aren't ready yet! Someday! But they got a lot to learn!' " Leonard views himself, in the end, as a lucky exception. He's 72 now, happily relieved of all management duties at Stew Leonard's supermarket chain, absolutely thrilled by the way things are going there under his eldest son, Stew Jr., and grateful for the peculiar set of circumstances facilitating the handoff. "This was a blessing," he says, "because it allowed me to do what all the books on family business tell you to do--let go and keep your nose out of it."