Business is a very important part of our culture. It’s personal. Why it works or doesn’t work depends on people more than anything else. In BC Business, the new Culture feature, we seek articles that tell personal business stories describing the experiences from which lessons are learned. BC Business is more personal than technical and a source for professional observation.
In March I wrote Requiem for the May Company. It reported on the closing of a once highly successful, 85+ year-old company. I did my best to be matter of fact and fair, although I must admit I had mixed feelings about the news of its demise. My personal experience had been polemic, extremely rewarding to the absolute pits. I eliminated the libelous comments from my first draft but be assured that the first draft is where the libel occurs. Editors look for that kind of thing.
Since “Requiem” appeared, I have been amazed that comments continue, numerous of them in private emails. Many have ripped into individuals and dripped with angst. But the interesting thing is that all of the commentary has acknowledged the George S. May International Company with reverence. The company is held in esteem while some of its management has been vilified.
On the professional network LinkedIn you will find my profile as well as those of many editors and contributors to Blogcritics. I sent a link for “Requiem” to many former May company colleagues. I am now connecting to people who traveled the country as road-warriors, as we are referred to, dealing with what I called “small business” owners and families.
My term “small-business” drew this reply. “Hey, it ain’t just ‘small’ business,’” a colleague wrote. “The May company’s original model actually created household names.” The company “did work early on in Microsoft, in Harley-Davidson, in Starbucks, in Wal-Mart, in McDonalds, in United Parcel Service, in SouthWest Airlines & so many more that Americans use daily.”
There are people I would like to hear from such as Kerry Sam Jacobs, the company’s last president and George S. May’s granddaughter. I am also looking forward to hearing from Donald Fletcher, now a college professor who famously grew the May company with Edward Sielsky, who has commented on “Requiem”.
“Who is responsible for the demise of a once great company? The Board of Directors has no one to blame but themselves. Throughout the 90′s there was tremendous growth. At that time we put a lot of effort into quality. Don Fletcher and I insisted on it,” Sielsky wrote. “Around 2000, the board and Dottie Campbell and Sam Jacobs became so accustomed to profits and dividends the likes of which they had never seen before, I believed they came to believe that the company was invincible, profits were automatic and anybody could manage it. In other words, we (basically Fletcher and I) made it look easy. I reminded them every chance I got that it was really a very fragile balance and any changes must be carefully considered.”
Ed Sielsky is not selling a book. He is telling the kind of personal business story that is in the fabric of our culture that deserves to be told and published in BC business. I encourage your submissions and will look forward to working with you as your editor in publishing your personal business stories.