DWM
© 2018 Copyright Key Media and Research All rights reserved. 
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.

32
How a Great Company Supports Itself
The Sturdy, Versatile Parable of the Three-Legged Stool
BY TIM LYONS
I
n my recent Google search of “The
Three-Legged Stool,” I learned that
it has been metaphorically used to
describe a vast number of ideas. From
retirement to multiple business appli
-
cations to chiropractics, the three-
legged stool has been used and, maybe
in some cases, abused. There is also an
article explaining the physics of why a
three-legged stool is more stable than
a four-legged one … but I digress!
Most of us have utilized this met
-
aphor at some point in our careers.
(Guilty as charged.) Each of us works
in an organization where the primary
“legs” to our business philosophy are
culturally ingrained and delivered to
the market to earn a growing share of
our customer’s business. Sounds great
—easy to communicate, display and,
if necessary, designed and construct
-
ed for the next trade show. But before
you complete the finishing touches,
there are a few things you will need to
consider.
“If You Build It, They Will Come”
In the movie Field of Dreams, you
heard the voice say If you build it, they
will come.” No one should ever confuse
building a baseball “Field of Dreams” to
distribution. Our business is relatively
simple, but its definitely not easy. So
how you build your business is unique
to your philosophy, chemistry, market,
goals and objectives.
As you bring your stool to your
customer, how does it measure up?
Let’s not forget that our customer
has choices. You need to be prepared
to articulate and, most importantly,
demonstrate the effectiveness of your
stool/organizations ability to earn
your customer’s business. There is
more than one stool to choose from.
Be clear as to what sets you apart from
the competitive landscape.
Do you have the resources and abil
-
ity to support current and future busi-
ness growth? Do your customer-fac-
ing functions provide a competitive
advantage, such as professional sales
support and E-commerce capabili
-
ties? Do your order-fulfillment capa-
bilities meet your customer’s require-
ments? (Reliable, on-time and in-full
deliveries; consistent production and
product quality.) Does your product
portfolio reflect and anticipate market
demand? Does your after sale” ser
-
vice solution work?
The cost to any customer is well
beyond the amount of the invoice.
Our ability to “Do it Right the First
Time” is critical. Equally important
—and in some cases, more import
-
ant—“Fixing it Right the First Time
is a key component of any success
-
ful distributor. How does your three-
legged stool/business model measure
up to the competition?
You Can’t Handle the Truth
As Col. Jessup states in the movie
A Few Good Men: We have a greater
responsibility than you can possibly
fathom.” For all of us in distribution,
our customer’s reputation and brand
rely on how well our business sup
-
ports and enhances their business.
Our ability to be a reliable and consis
-
tent partner every day builds custom-
er confidence and ultimately market
share and profits.
The truth of the effectiveness of
our three-legged stool is clear to our
customers and ourselves if we are
willing to look and listen. The con
-
struction of your business must be in
sync with the market. The willingness
to repair what is weak or replace what
is broken is critical to your long-term
success.
Go the Distance
Sorry for one more Field of Dreams
reference. (I know—it is only pre-sea
-
son.) The voice tells Ray Kinsella to
go the distance.” For your contin
-
ued success, you must be sure to
go the distance with your associ
-
ates. Be sure that your team under-
stands, articulates and most impor-
tantly acts in concert with the tenets
of your three-legged stool. A great
design will languish unless given
organizational life.
Leverage the strength of your com
-
pany by building a business plan
for specific customer opportuni
-
ties. Dovetail your marketing efforts
to deliver a consistent message to
your customers. Include your supply
chain—leverage individual strengths
to deliver a superior solution.
No three-legged stool/business
model is alike. Your company “DNA
is yours alone and presents a unique
strategy and solution for your custom
-
er. Take the time to design, build and
deploy an effective business solution
that will provide mutual profit and
market share growth. Your sharehold
-
ers and associates will thank you.
y
Tim Lyons is the immediate past president
of the World Millwork Alliance and the vice
president of sales and marketing for the
Brockway-Smith Company in Wilmington,
Mass.
W M A H E A D L I N E S
tlyons@brosco.com
Door & Window Market www.dwmmag.com
No three-legged stool/
business model is alike. Your
company “DNA” is yours
alone and presents a unique
strategy and solution for
your customers.
MOULDING & MILLWORK

DWM
© 2018 Copyright Key Media and Research All rights reserved. 
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.