Keeping Your Manufacturing Business Resilient in the Age of Quantum’s Bankruptcy

By October 23, 2014Blog

This post was first published by Jamie Calvetti on LinkedIn

Many consider the meat industry an old boys’ club (an OG sausage fest, if you will). While traditions and some “old-fashioned” ways still persist, we are at the mercy of change just like any other industry. Quantum Foods’ recent bankruptcy is a perfect example that made me reflect on what it takes to keep a meat business of any size resilient in this day and age.

Don’t get too comfortable

This was Quantum’s biggest fault. They put too many eggs in one basket and couldn’t scramble together a business plan to adjust to changes in the market and partner relationships. Consumer tastes change, restaurant and airline demands change, long-standing opportunities end.

While Quantum did offer various products and services, they relied too heavily on one revenue stream. When scandals broke, relationships soured and demand declined, they had little else to turn to. It’s just as risky to be a jack of only one trade as it is to be a jack of all trades.

That is why I’m not just a family business owner. I’m an entrepreneur. Instead of settling in and sticking to my father’s original business plan, I anticipated and reacted to a growing need and created IFC.

Do something different

I’m not just talking about making a product no one else does. Too many businesses offer new products just for the sake of the short-term bottom line, not for long-term prosperity.

Instead, “doing something different” for this article means engraining something special into your business practice or culture. It could be taking marketing risks, it could be holding on to efficient traditions that others have forsaken (even though that may seem counterintuitive). Whatever it is, prove that not every vendor is the same. Stand out.

One indispensable way to be different is to be just that: different. Price alone no longer makes the sale. While it’s a huge factor for sure, brand and employee personality can be enough to sway a prospect from the competition. Spill your personality into your marketing, customer service and every other context of interaction with business partners. Be memorable.

A long-term family friend, Wanda, does this wonderfully. Wanda‘s personality is half the reason her bar Stanley’s Tap has been going strong since the mid 1900’s. I noticed it’s a trendy thing for new restaurants and bars to pass on putting signage out front, some sort of exclusivity factor. Stanley’s has been doing that since the beginning. But for Wanda it’s not about exclusivity, she just doesn’t need it.

Do something better

You’ll very rarely be the only one doing something for long. It’s one thing to innovate – it’s another to lead.

My father was the first to offer consistently and precisely cut steak for airlines but we can’t rely only on being the first. Our standards have to reflect the level of competition in the field. One way we ensure that is hand-cutting every piece of meat that comes out of my plant. Sure, robots and machines are flashy and time-saving, but there just isn’t a system that delivers the same quality a human hand can. It’s different and it’s just flat-out better.

Why this matters

If you want to stay in business (and avoid cringe-worthy headline after headline about your business), you have to be smart. Being smart means diversifying revenue streams, standing out and, frankly, being worth your price.

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