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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Zingerman’s - A Unique Business Strategy

Zingerman’s Offers Sandwiches And A Unique Business Strategy - from HERE & NOW

Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich., often wins awards for its corned beef sandwiches and house baked bread, but it is equally notable for its open-book business policy.
Every employee has access to data about the $60 million company, and recently, each staff member had a chance to buy the first shares of stock.
Here & Now’s Robin Young sat down at Zingerman’s Deli with Ari Weinzweig, a co-founder of the Zingerman’s business empire.

Interview Highlights: Ari Weinzweig

How can you be a “lapsed anarchist” and run a successful $60 million-a-year business?
“There’s nothing in anarchism that’s opposed to organization. In fact, it’s in favor of organization because it helps people to get to greatness. The key is that it be freely chosen and that it’s not forced on people, and generally that it’s not hierarchical other than what’s appropriate.”
“Everybody, I believe, is a unique, creative and intelligent human being.”

On letting employees and former employees have an ownership stake in the company
“It’s the belief that the more generous you are with that work, the more greatness you create. When you, from the heart, treat people like intelligent human beings and give them the chance to have a say in what’s going on, then great things come from that. I mean, it could be harder in the moment, there’s something easier about just telling people what to do, but I don’t think it’s healthy or sustainable and it’s not natural.”

On Zingerman’s problem-solving formula and process
“There’s problems happening all the time. We make mistakes with customers, a supplier may not show up, butter prices may shoot up, you know at the bake house we use tons of butter, literally. What do you do? Do you raise prices? Do bonuses go down? The whole model is the bosses retreat to the back room and try to figure it out. We don’t really know what we’re doing either, but we’re supposed to know what we’re doing, so we retreat to the back room and then come back and announce some big decision, which inevitably is flawed because there is no perfect decision. Then everyone else goes into reactive contortions over what’s wrong with it. What we would do here, if we did our job well, is to start dialogue, for sure involving the staff that are working with selling to the customers, what pricing do you think? What should we do?”
You really ask the people making the sandwich what the pricing should be?

“Yeah, absolutely. Because it impacts them. So if we don’t raise prices and profitability goes down, people’s bonus go down, and eventually you can’t buy the equipment that you need – that they need to do the work that they do. On the other hand, if you raise prices too much and you lose sales, bonuses go down and you can’t buy the – you know, everybody’s affected by everything.”


Friday, April 24, 2015

B-Corp = Become the Change

 Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream was one of the first B-Corporations in the USA.
B Corps are a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

B Corp

b-corp.jpg (caring dairy picket)
In 1988, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first companies in the world to place a social mission in equal importance to its product and economic missions. Since then, the movement has grown and now has a unifying set of principles and criteria on which to evaluate socially responsible businesses, it’s called the “B Corp” movement (or Benefit Corporation movement). Certified B Corps satisfy a rigorous set of standards to achieve certification. True to our pioneering spirit, we became the first-ever wholly-owned subsidiary to gain B Corp Certification.
Ben & Jerry’s has always believed in linked prosperity - that all stakeholders connected to our business should prosper as we prosper, from those who produce the ingredients, to employees who make the product, to the communities in which the company operates.
B Corp Certification is the next chapter for socially responsible businesses. The Certification is supported by Unilever, and is fully aligned with their own ambitious sustainability agenda.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Turn Detroit into Drone Valley?

  • Build a big, beautiful, fully equipped technology park;
  • Mix in R&D labs and university centers;
  • Provide incentives to attract scientists, firms and users;
  • Interconnect the industry through consortia and specialized suppliers;
  • Protect intellectual property and tech transfer; and,
  • Establish a favorable business environment and regulations.
Except … this approach to innovation clusters hasn’t really worked. Some have even dismissed these government-driven efforts as “modern-day snake oil.” Yet policymakers are always searching for the next Silicon Valley because of the critical link between tech innovation, economic growth and social opportunity.

Read more:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Private Vs. Public Companies

Privately-held companies are - no surprise here - privately held. This means that, in most cases, the company is owned by the company's founders, management or a group of private investors. A public company, on the other hand, is a company that has sold a portion of itself to the public via an initial public offering of some of its stock, meaning shareholders have claim to part of the company's assets and profits.

One of the biggest differences between the two types of companies deals with public disclosure. If it's a public U.S. company, which means it is trading on a U.S. stock exchange, it is typically required to file quarterly earnings reports (among other things) with the Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC). This information is also made available to shareholders and the public. Private companies, however, are not required to disclose their financial information to anyone since they do not trade stock on a stock exchange.
The main advantage public companies have is their ability to tap the financial markets by selling stock (
equity) orbonds (debt) to raise capital (i.e. cash) for expansion and projects. The main advantage to private companies is that management doesn't have to answer to stockholders and isn't required to file disclosure statements with the SEC. However, a private company can't dip into the public capital markets and must therefore turn to private funding, which can boost the cost of capital and may limit expansion. It has been said often that private companies seek to minimize the tax bite, while public companies seek to increase profits for shareholders.

The popular misconception is that privately-held companies are small and of little interest. In fact, there are many big-name companies that are also privately held - check out the list of the largest private companies in 2006.

(For further reading on this subject, check out Policing The Securities Market: An Overview Of The SEC.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What the Rich do not want you to know. - From