...goes a long way, especially when I'm thinking about brands, brand management and the power of brands to build successful organizations and careers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Jim Wier is my hero!

Jim Wier said ‘no’ to Wal-Mart.

Wier is the former CEO of Simplicity, the people who make Snapper brand lawnmowers, and his applause-creating stand against the brand-killer from Arkansas is highlighted in a new book by Charles Fishman, titled "The Wal-Mart Effect" The Wier story is excerpted in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Fast Company.

It was in October 2002 and the vice president in charge of buying lawnmowers told Weir that he wanted to buy even more mowers. Wier, who started sweating, said “Let me tell you why it doesn’t work.”

“Wier traveled to Bentonville with a firm grasp of the values of Snapper, the dynamics of the lawn-mower business, the needs of the dealers, the needs of the Snapper customer, and the needs of the Wal-Mart customer. He was not dazzled by the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of lawn mowers al-Mart was already selling for Snapper’; he was not deluded about his ability to beat Wal-Mart at its own game, to somehow resist the price pressure. He was not imaginging that he could take the sales now and figure out the profits later.

“Jim Wier believed that Snapper’s health – indeed, its very long-term survival – required that it not do business with Wal-Mart.”

In other words, he looked to his brand to decide to whom he was gong to sell his products. Even more amazing, he actually looked at the retailers’ customer before realizing that the opportunity wasn’t aligned with his brand. His brand told him NOT to sell through Wal-Mart.

By his own admission in the except/book, no lightning bolt struck even though Snapper instantly gave up almost 20 percent of its business. “But when we told the dealers that they would no longer find Snapper in Wal-Mart,” writes Wier, “they were very pleased with that decision. And I think we got most of the business back by winning the hearts of the dealers.”

He’s now working for someone else, but I want his autograph. He’s my hero.

Note: The book's author, Charles Fishman, is a senior author of Fast Company.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Michael Wagner said...

Mark, thanks for highlighting the Jim Wier story!

Brand owners take heart!

Brand clarity leads to brand courage and great brand decisions!

Question: where is Jim Wier now?

9:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark! I was so thrilled to find your web page. After reading about Jim Wier, I felt a sense of renewed hope to quell this monster [Wal-Mart].

Renewed Hope,
E.
(Fellow Iowan, currently transplanted but wanting to come home.)

10:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what Weir did is GREAT! About time someone put Wal-mart in their place. I happen to appreciate things that are well made and last. We live in a disposable society thanks to cheap imports. And it is about time to put an end to the madness! IF America is to turn around business owners need to start putting their stock in America Products and Pride and stop shipping everything overseas. Who knows maybe one day when Corporate America wakes up and wants to come back our society will say, " you didn't stand behind us, stay where you are"!
Again, great job Mr. Weir Kudos and much Success to Snapper I'll be buying one this spring!
A. Hanson, Savannah, GA

10:16 PM

 
Blogger McKnibble said...

I think Mr Weir SHOULD keep him "Snaaper" mowers out of Wal-Mart because the first time I went in to Lawn & Garden and saw a Snapper mower, I told my room mate "Well, I guess Snappers aren't any good any more-they sell them here at wal-mart now."
Mr Weir please save your company and don't sell your wares at Wal-Mart.

9:30 PM

 
Blogger Buzz said...

I just read the Jim Weir/Snapper story in FastCompany.

I believe Jim Weir's decision was the right one for his company, and to support that quality of decision making I intend to buy a Snapper myself. I enjoy mowing my own lawn too.

Jim, keep making the hard gutsy decisions where ever you find yourself.

11:07 AM

 
Blogger jim said...

Mark; I just ran accross your blog. Thanks for the nice words. It really was very easy to make the decision not to tarnish the Snapper Brand. I would be happy to give you an autograph " you get what you pay for" You can reach me at jwier1@wi.rr.com

4:11 PM

 

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