Congratulations to our 2013 Sales Winners!

Northland Buildings honored our 2013 Top Sales Consultants at our Annual Sales Meeting. Congratulations and thank you for all your hard work last year!

Post Frame Buildings Sales Awards

Northland Buildings 2013 Sales Awards

Stop listening to the experts!

It has been a while since I contributed my last blog post. Like most other projects of mine, the one constant that keeps running when other priorities arise is the calendar.

I have been spending a lot of windshield time the past few months, crisscrossing the territory that Northland Buildings covers. I visit our sales reps, management, and also suppliers and customers. The philosophy is that in order to have a bird’s-eye view of the company, I need to get a perspective from the worm’s-eye view.

This year there is a consistent theme. By and large I sense a guardedly optimistic attitude for growth in 2013, albeit with plenty of potential glitches. Not least of the glitches is the winter/non-spring of 2013, generating a significant “community bad mood,” that will get no further mention here to avoid aggravating fresh wounds. Further feeding the angst is uncertainty about drought (less likely in the last month); commodity price spikes for lumber, metals, grain, and fuel; the general state of the economy (are we entering the third consecutive spring swoon?); political uncertainty with fiscal cliffs, sequesters, affordable health care (!), and foreign affairs; not to shortchange bombs, guns, wars and rumors of wars.

In that nugget of guarded optimism I take something real. Most of the people I’ve talked with are hoping for the best but planning for the worst. The media is bombarding us with all things negative, adding to the underlying self-generated anxiety, sometimes to a point of paralysis. There is a blurring the line between news reporting and opinions, most often for monetary or political gain. In spite of this I will quote one of my best friends, “Where would you rather be than right here, right now?” A rhetorical question, maybe, but it hits home. Now is the time to do our best, right here.

I have come to three general conclusions, which may or may not be related:
1 1. Seems like most of my worry-wort time is spent on things out of my control, even though they can affect my life and/or business.
2 2. Talk radio people do not stop talking if and when they do not know what they are talking about. This applies to hosts, guests, and listener/callers. The only reason anybody stops talking is when the time is up. Remember that.
3 3. I have listened to way too much talk radio over the last few months. Some politically conservative, some liberal, some sports related, and some general. The analysis is the same. So why do I keep listening? Good question.

2013 is one third complete and the time if flying. Here’s a mid-year resolution. For the balance of this year I will attempt to focus on that which I can control, and respond to uncontrollable events as best as possible when needed. It is time to take the half-full glass and work with it.

And next time I get behind the wheel, I will turn on some music (if there is no ball game). Happy Spring and Summer!

Busy beavers don’t get angry?

I was taking a hike through a nature trail earlier this spring. About a mile into the hike, I noticed along the trail an unfinished project.

At first the leaning tree, about a six-inch diameter, looked as if someone took a hatchet to the base. As I got closer I recognized the work of a busy beaver. However, there was a problem. I surmised that the beaver had spent considerable time and effort to fell another structural member of his abode, but as it fell, it rested on a neighbor, a slightly smaller tree, but enough to keep the first tree at a 45 degree angle to the ground.

I tried to imagine how the beaver would have reacted to the predicament. If he were a typical American, I suspect he would have gotten angry, used some cuss words, then blamed somebody else for putting the other tree in the wrong spot, or making the first tree fall in the wrong direction. At last, the beaver would file a lawsuit against the forest, and maybe the forests’ government for compensation and punitive damages.

On the other hand, I don’t suspect beavers exhibit typical human emotional outbursts. More likely, frustrated or not, the animal likely went back to work, found another suitable tree, and felled it for the project.

We live in an angry world these days. Too many people are angry at things, other people, and even themselves. The source of this anger is both in and out of our own control. Just a few days ago I caught myself getting irritated and very testy with a recorded voice on a customer service help line. I know the recording wasn’t as upset as I. The worst of this world is when we let others (read: media, politicians, bosses, co-workers, family members, pick your favorite) rile up our anger, deliberately or not.

We can all learn from the beaver. We live in an imperfect world, and sometimes things don’t work out as we plan or desire. Sometimes it’s our own fault, due to poor planning, or poor execution. Then again, sometimes it’s out of our control. This can be irritating. If somebody else is at fault, it is even more aggravating.

There are times when the manager with a project that on paper should be a ‘slam dunk’ starts to unravel, causing a cascade of other issues. A sales person puts extreme time and effort into a customer but still loses the sale. Or maybe a distracted driver causes a fender bender that results in at minimum too much time to coordinate repairs, or worse an injury that needs tending. You all have your own frustrating examples, I am sure.

During the rest of my hike that day, I decided that most often the world and people in it are not out to get me. I resolved that when I work hard on a task that gets hung up on the tree right next to it, I will try to control and suppress my anger, and go to work on the next tree. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, if you want to help me, during the upcoming election season remind me to turn off the radio and TV.

Winter

What a winter this has been!
That’s the same thing I said exactly a year ago today. Only then, it was “What a WINTER this has been!”

The old saying in Wisconsin and Minnesota is if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few hours, it will change. True enough. This winter has been mild almost beyond compare, though when I test my gray matter I can recall some pretty mild winters. I am not sure how much I like it. Well, okay, I don’t really mind not having to start the car at twenty below zero and keeping the house warm, but sometimes a coating of white cleans up the landscape, and we always tend to feel guilty that a run of weather like this means there will be some sort of payback later on.

In fact we know Mother Nature can still dish out a doozy of a March state tournament blizzard. But even if, the sun is higher in the sky and any winter snow or cold event will not be as sharp or as long as if it happens on the shortest days of December and January.

I suspect it’s time to look back and say we’ve enjoyed the winter we’ve had (except for no cross-country skiing). For a construction company in the upper Midwest, Northland Buildings has enjoyed the winter months, helping us get off to a reasonably good start. As I start my second full year in charge of this company, I hope the economy continues to show some signs of life and turns into a full-fledged rebound. I am looking forward to serving our customers again this year.

Spring is almost here!