Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about BMW, JC Penney, OJL Forklifts, Land O’Lakes, and Rastelli Foods Group.
“BMW began life in 1916 assembling aircraft engines. Restrictions on Germany’s planemaking after the first world war encouraged it to diversify, first into motorbikes, and then in 1928 into making its first car. In 1933 it launched the 303, ancestor to today’s 3 Series, and the first BMW to feature the distinctive double kidney-shaped front grille. Though stylish and technically advanced, BMW’s pricey models at first sold in small quantities. At the end of the 1950s sales of motorbikes, on which the company still relied, faltered as cars from mass-market firms hit the roads. Only an investment by the Quandt family, which controls BMW to this day, saved it from a humiliating takeover by Daimler.”
“Marvin Ellison delivered. In his first year as the CEO of JC Penney he has achieved enough positive growth measures to give credence to his three-year turnaround plan. Formerly EVP of stores at Home Depot, Ellison was brought in by CEO Mike Ullman in late 2014 as President and CEO-Designee, (to replace Ullman as CEO in August of 2015). Ellison’s charge was to put JC Penney back on a growth trajectory. Ullman, who had been called back as CEO in April of 2013 to save JC Penney from plummeting to its death, had stabilized the business enough to provide a runway for take-off. And Ellison will soon declare, ‘wheels up.’”
“’We have a balanced business, buying used forklifts, refurbishing them and meeting an important need in the market,’ Jose said. ‘We also repair forklifts and equipment for other companies, and sell pallet jacks and parts. When the recession struck and rentals went down, repairs and parts sales went up.’ The company does not sell new forklifts.”
“Land O’Lakes is a company whose bread-and-butter business really is butter — and a whole lot more. It has to be to survive long-term, said CEO and President Chris Policinski.”
“In the language of its business, Rastelli Foods Group’s evolution is akin to going from ground chuck to kobe strip steaks, from bacon to Iberico ham. Once modest Deptford butcher grows from local to global. Rastelli’s is a 40-year story of improvisation and capitalizing on opportunity – and proof that foreign trade is accessible even to a couple of New Jersey brothers who reached adulthood without ever having been on an airplane.”