Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 7/24/15

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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 La-Z-Boy, the Gap, A123 Systems, Potosi Brewing, and Geekatoo.

From James R. Hagerty: La-Z-Boy Adjusts to More Than Recliners

“The problem is that the La-Z-Boy brand doesn’t exactly evoke elegance. Yet the company doesn’t want to ditch one of the most-recognized brands in furniture. So it is trying to gradually change its image by freshening up its stores and sending in-house designers into customers’ homes to offer free advice.”

From Robin Lewis: There Is No Gap Déjà Vu

“Glenn Murphy exits. Art Peck takes over. It matters not who the players are because there has been a revolving door full of them for the past 15 years, all declaring how they would return Gap to its once dominant position as the cool apparel brand for America’s youth. All of them failed to do so, and there is no reason to believe Art Peck will have any better luck. Actually, even luck would not be enough to reverse the ultimate fate of this storied brand.”

From Daniel Gross: A Case of Successful Failure

“A123 Systems has had an interesting several years. It was founded in 2001, and specialized in lithium ion batteries — the technology that would enable greater use of electricity to power cars and trucks. In 2009, it became eligible for a US$249 million grant from a new U.S. Department of Energy program that was funding innovations in batteries and auto components. The same year, it pulled off a big initial public offering. And it put the cash it raised from taxpayers and investors into two new factories in Michigan. President Obama spoke — by phone — at the grand opening of one of the factories in 2010. But A123 Systems had a harder time selling its products than it had raising money.”

From Tom Daykin: Potosi Brewing cracks open a new chapter

“Tangerine IPA and Oatmeal Stout weren’t on the menu when Potosi Brewing Co. began making beer over a century ago in the small southwestern Wisconsin town for which it’s named. But they’re among the brands helping drive a major expansion of Potosi Brewing, which closed in 1972 before reopening over 35 years later amid the craft beer boom.”

From Heather Somerville: Geeks on demand: Bringing tech support to your front door

“Geekatoo is among a growing crop of startups offering Uber-style, on-demand service for home and office tech repair, set-up and troubleshooting. These companies dispatch tech experts when summoned to fix everything from a cracked iPhone screen to a tricky Nest installation or a laptop riddled with malware.”

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