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Learning From Businesses Of All Sizes

During a conversation earlier this week with someone in the business community, I was surprised to hear him say that, in reading about a large company in his industry, he could not relate because of the size of the company. I can see where he was coming from as the owner of a small business. But it’s hard to think there isn’t something he could learn from a larger company.

This conversation got me thinking about GAWDA members and the companies we profile in Welding & Gases Today. Over the last year, the GAWDA member profile has looked at companies ranging in size from 9 employees to 900. A big range, yes, and one that reflects the diversity of GAWDA members themselves. I’d like to think that no matter the size of a company, there are always things to learn from others. Large companies can learn from the little guys, and vice versa. How so?

At a 24-person operation like Melo’s Gas & Gear, it might be tales of how cylinder tracking has helped the company with accounts receivable and theft prevention. President Dave Melo says, “Reconciling cylinder balances can be an incredibly frustrating and potentially damaging process for a distributor.” Melo recalls the police making multiple arrests when cylinders ended up in the wrong hands, all because the company’s cylinder tracking system proved that the cylinders were stolen.

Meanwhile, a 900 person organization like Norco might teach a small business about success in a family business. CEO Jim Kissler recalls how in order to work for his father’s company, he first had to complete a four-year degree and then work outside the business for five to seven years. Kissler’s father was a firm believer in the teachings of Leon Danco: “Danco taught family business members to first become somebody before coming into the business,” says Jim Kissler. “It makes you more credible, and it makes you more knowledgeable about running a business when you’ve worked outside of the family business.”

When it comes to business, there are issues that simply transcend business size. Well, that’s my opinion, at least. What do you think? What have you learned from a business of dissimilar size?

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