A Moment of Self-Discovery

By  Jim Fisher, Founder and CEO, IMST Corp.

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As I write this, one of the Republican presidential candidates just finished his “campaign suspension” speech. I have not necessarily been a supporter, and that does not matter; what is relevant is the class of the speech and some of the points he made. His major point was the lifelong thrill that overtook him and his family fol­lowing his victory in the Iowa caucus. The candidate spent nearly a year in only Iowa, putting every egg in one basket. He visited all 99 counties and grew to know and understand the state and its citizens. However, his real moment of self-discovery came when he left Iowa and began touring the rest of the country. That is when he fell in love with the United States.

During his speech, he began tell­ing stories of the individuals he met in each state where he campaigned. He talked about the strengths of the people, the wonders of each area and the lessons he learned on the campaign trail, lessons that changed his life. He told these stories with passion and gratitude for the experiences he had been given.

Different and the Same

As I continued to listen, I realized his words depicted the projects and site visitations our analytical staff is so blessed to experi­ence every week. We are not reflecting the experiences of citizens whom we are trying to influence to gain their confidence as a political leader. On the other hand, we are given the opportunity to learn from the successful, prosperous members of this industry, those trailblazers and pathfinders who have set the standards that all others follow to share in the aura of success.

We have learned it is the differences in the distinct regions (and citizens) of the country that do not pull us apart, but rather bind us together as one. This fact is always on display at all national industry events. It is said the love of Boston baked beans does not carry to Birmingham, just as the love of barbecue in Birming­ham does not migrate to Boston. It is the distinction of seasonings, spices, sauces, habits, routines and expectations that help to define who we are as individuals and regional citizens. Then we are all thrown in the pot, mixed around some and given some national seasonings, creating the wholesomeness of the oneness of who we are as a people.

Whether it is a Purple Cow in Slidell, U-Gas in St. Louis, Stinker Store in Boise or Tedeschi Food Shop in Quincy, each is created to serve a separate and distinct customer base that reflects the oneness of a singular trade area. The success of the companies that own and operate these stores is based on the ability of each com­pany to monitor the environments where it operates and to respond when direc­tional change is required. The moments of self-discovery enable us as retailers to change course when necessary.

In on the Gold Rush

We were involved with a project in extreme north central Pennsylvania within a com­munity that has been tremendously (in a very positive way) affected by the intense level of activity associated with the Marcel­lus Shale discovery and recovery operation. Our customer recognized the immediacy of action required to raze and rebuild an older generation facil­ity to properly respond to the new economic conditions and demand requirements within the trade area. While on site, our analyst counted vehicles from 26 different states, reflecting a changing economic environment that requires immedi­ate positive response.

The company developing this facility foresaw what this new “gold rush” was going to mean to its operational envi­ronment in the long term and decided to respond to an underserved potential cus­tomer base. Additional corporate units will be similarly evaluated and modernized.

One element of success of a retail com­pany is to be able to recognize the need for change when change must be taken— positive, pre-eminent actions as opposed to forced, responsive reaction. Just as the candidate had his self-discovery moment, this just may be the time to contemplate what is required to upgrade and modern­ize your existing retail assets by undergo­ing a retail asset review. As you know, the concept never changes; the marketplace always does.

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