February 21, 2012

Hallelujah—Spring Training Is Here!

By Paul Bieber

Anyone who know me knows that this week’s blog would be about Spring Training and Glass.  In Spring Training all teams are still in first place; all teams will be in the World Series; all players are in contention for the MVP.

Yet, deep down, I know that some teams have a slightly better chance.  After all if one team spends more on salaries, shouldn’t they be a stronger candidate for winning?  Let’s look at last year as an example.

The Yankees spent $201.7 million, an average of $6.72 million per man, won 97 games, made the playoffs, but didn’t win the big one.  Kansas City spent $36.1 million, an average of $1.33 million per man, won 71 games, and didn’t make the playoffs.

Another way to look at this is the Yanks spent $2.08 million per win, while KC spent $508 thousand per win; the Yanks spent 4 times what KC did for each win.  Yet neither won the big one.

Enough baseball, let’s relate this to the glass business.  It is not how much you spend, it is how you spend it.  How you motivate your people, how you control your expenses and how you manage your business that makes you a winner.  Your goal is not to win the World Series of Glass, but to finish with a positive profit and loss statement for the year.

You do this by taking on the jobs you can make money on.  Is it better to sit quiet than to take work where you lose money, but stay busy?  I say it is better to be quiet than to lose money.  You do this by juggling your lineup; using the players on your team that perform when needed.  You do this by managing your payroll effectively.  You need a star or two who have special skills, but for your everyday players, dependability, reliability and professionalism top the list of characteristics that I look for.

We have another year of uncertainty for the glass business.  Since we are at the back end of the building cycle, it may even be a couple of years.  Nonetheless, you can manage your business to be a winner.  Treat your employees fairly, service your customers to the highest level possible, spend wisely investing in your business where needed and manage your day-to-day expenses wisely.  If you don’t absolutely need to buy something, don’t.  And then buy the smallest quantity you can.

Back to baseball…since 2000, twelve World Series have been decided, and nine different teams have won.  Even though the big spenders have been the big spenders all along.  In fact, the biggest spenders, the Yanks, have only won twice. Before anyone writes me…yes, I know my Mets didn’t win any, and they were up there in spending, too.  This just proves the point that spending alone isn’t the key.  It is managing the talent you have for the best results.

No different in glass.