Volume 42, Issue 6 - June 2007


Thank You, Michigan
by Lyle R. Hill

A few weeks ago I was honored with an opportunity to speak at a meeting of the Michigan Glass Association. For the most part, at this point in my life, I donít really like to make speeches. Writing is much easier and far safer. 

You see, I donít write things quickly. I tend to put my thoughts to paper and then look them over a bit and make sure that whatever has been written is properly conveying the message I want conveyed. Thatís not to say that everything that I have ever written has been safe or properly wordedófar from it, in fact. Iíve received a lot of flak for things that Iíve written, but you canít erase or delete spoken words once youíve said them. So, I guess Iíll always be more comfortable putting my thoughts to paper instead of speaking them publicly. 

However, the people in Michigan had been badgering me for the last three years so I finally gave in and drove up to Big Rapids, not to be confused with Grand Rapids, and tried to present a speech that would be broad enough to interest most, if not all, of the very nice people who were in attendance. 

But before I go any farther, I feel compelled to comment about the fine state of Michigan. So let me state here and now that I would not be against claiming to live there Ö or vacationing there Ö or to have gone to school there. It is a state well-known to vacationers from Illinois and to sports enthusiasts from around the country. They have two fine Big-Ten universities; pristine recreational areas and the Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers have all done very well for themselves in their various professional sports venues. Now please understand that I am by no means claiming that Michigan is a place of perpetual perfection. No, not at all. In fact, there are some negative things I could say about Michigan but, at last count, I am still banned in three states and Canada for public remarks that I have made in the past. So for the moment at least, I want to go on record as saying that I find no fault with Michigan or most of its inhabitants.

OK, enough of that. Letís get back to the story. So as I was saying, I went to Michigan and made this speech wherein I tried to have something of interest for everyone who was there regardless of whether they were manufacturers, wholesalers, contractors or retailers. Personally, I felt like the speech was a little long and could have used a little more pizzazz. To my pleasant surprise, though, two of the attendees asked me for a copy of some of the remarks I had made and a third actually suggested that I publish them in an upcoming article. So Iíve decided to ignore the seven people who told me that my speech was the worst one that they had heard in years and the other four who said I was outdated and irrelevant, and put to paper what one part of the speech was about. Specifically, it was a portion of the speech that was subtitled ďDo You or Donít You Want to Sell to Me?Ē So here it is.

If you want to sell to me you should:

  1. Never promise what you know you canít deliver. It will only embarrass us both;
  2. Fix your mistakes. Everyone makes them. Good companies kill themselves to fix them;
  3. Help me help myself. Share ideas with me. Become my partner;
  4. Never lie to me. Keep me informed with the truth, even when itís not pleasant; and
  5. Think in the long term. Understand the far-reaching effect of todayís decisions.

And, on the flip side of this thought process Ö

If you donít want to sell to me you should:

  1. Be inconsistent in your pricing. Confuse me with your discounts and add-ons;
  2. Ship me second-rate materials and, when questioned, tell me it meets industry standards;
  3. Have an uninformed, poorly trained and powerless salesperson handle my account;
  4. Have tough, shoot-from-the-hip credit people make unreasonable demands; and
  5. Ignore me. Donít value my opinion. Donít ask, or care about my level of satisfaction.

So there you have it and thank you very much, Michigan, for asking me to visit with you and for encouraging me to share the above with others. And in closing, would whomever it was at the event who stole Ö Iím sorry Ö borrowed my green, glow safety pen, please return it to me? I feel lost, and not quite as safe, without it.

The Author: Lyle R. Hill is president of MTH Industries of Chicago. Mr. Hillís opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.