"My Thoughts"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Business Ethics and Communty Support

I currently own a small internet business that sells aquarium and pond supplies. I also sell ocean themed décor such as seashells, shell night lights and shell wind chimes.
I moved to Oregon in December 2002 to help my family and sold my long time Aquarium Maintenance Business and small Pet Store.
For more about me, please follow this link: “Carl Strohmeyer; Biography” .

My thought as it pertains to business is the role image and honesty play in business today. It used to be that if you treated customers well, treated your employees well, and put honesty above image it would pay off in the end. Unfortunately this is not true today (at least in my experience).

Almost everything I sell such as UV Bulbs, is based on my experience in professional aquarium maintenance and in particular; tests I have done with UV Sterilization, Fish Nutrition, Aquarium Lighting, and Medication. My Article References:
*Ultraviolet Sterilize Use, Facts, Information
*Aquarium Fish Food Information, Nutrition facts
*Reef, Planted freshwater Aquarium Lighting Information
*Aquarium Fish Medication Use, Information, Treatment

Product Reference:
*Ultraviolet UVC Replacement Bulb, Lamps

I am on several aquatic forums, where I try and pass on my experience. The trouble is I get flamed by many who have no practical experience and state that I am only trying to sell something.
If this were true, I would not be where I am today. I have on multiple occasions told customers in my maintenance business and pet stores NOT to buy a product as this product would not help or worse, cause more problems for their aquarium.
Yet customers have then gone elsewhere and listened to dishonest advice and purchased unnecessary or over priced, poor designed aquarium products only to have problems.

Another point is image; I have never placed image or sales above employees or people in general, yet in one instance when my largest service customer (representing 40% of my business with over 120 aquariums) had a change of ownership (son took over from father) and he had made sexual and obscene comments to my employees who went there to maintain aquariums, I asked him to cease and apologize.
He refused and I refused to send my employees there (basically ending our service with them).
What was the community reaction to this? Condemnation of me for not providing for my family and for stupid business practice. Of coarse my business struggled for several years after this.

Later when I had to move after my wife’s nervous breakdown (she suffered severe postpartum depression) and subsequent affair (brought on by three special needs children, with the autistic child being the straw to break the camels back, despite the fact that I was doing most of the care at this point), we moved to Oregon where my sister could help with the kids.
There I took on a job at a candy factory as the production supervisor. Despite my years of business experience and college education in business management, everything fell on deaf ears to upper management.

Everything at this factory was about image, and every problem started at the bottom with the employees rather than my opinion of managing from the top down. The community strongly supports this business, even giving “Business of the Year Awards” despite its turnover rate of staff and general poor working conditions.
During my time there I brought productivity up my increasing morale and we kept employees much longer.

I am not there now and they only have two employees (out of a staff of 25+) that have been there longer than 3 months.
While my business gets basically no community support, even though I run my business with people and honesty first, image third.
Funny thing here is I sell products at less than half the price of the “good ole boys” and that are of far better quality, go figure?

I guess the bottom in business, big and small, is image and profit are everything, honesty and people are nothing.
But I also know differently, when morale is high, profits can be too (Jet Blue has succeeded here). These decisions are also the public’s responsibility, as you vote with your pocket book.

In my blogging, I came upon this site:
“Slow Leadership-It's Time to Think Again About Productivity”- "The 2005 Workplace Productivity Survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that almost six out of ten (58 per cent) Americans identified poor management as the biggest obstacle to productivity. Long hours won’t help with that."
This site was great reading, and comments were also interesting and well informed.

Another article worth reading for the other side of the equation:
OWS Movement

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