Fear will make a man do some crazy things in life. If you want to see the very best and worst in people then back them up against a wall and let fear kick into overdrive, let the survival instincts rise up within them and then you will really see what they are made of. Sometimes the results are both surprising and unexpected, for good and bad. Yes, fear will make people do things they never thought they would.
Fear has reared its ugly face more frequently than we all would like in recent months and we have seen both of the results mentioned above in the auto industry over the past 18 months and some companies like Ford have proven themselves worthy of their heritage. I think that Henry Ford would be proud about what his namesake has acomplished in the past 18 months. The brand continues to surge forward step by step making incremental improvemtents along the way, most importantly to its product offerings. Others have resorted to makeshift budget cuts, leadership changes, M&A attempts and silly sales promos to bolster sales and if it wasn’t for the Great American Gov’t Waste of Taxpayers Money Cash For Clunkers program they would be in even worse shape than they are in now. Mostly because they continue to ignore a very basic principle, to build quality cars that people actually want to own and drive. The 2008-09 decline of the Detroit big three and other world auto powers has obviously hit the aftermarket parts manufactures hard but as I prepare for the arduous task of working the IMIS (Int’l Motorsports Industry Show) here in Indianapolis for the next few days I am perplexed to understand how the aftermarket and it’s companies are making business decisions in the current economic conditions.
I know it is not a simple matter to make good decisions when the future is about as clear as mud but c’mon already people! Stop basing everything you do on the sole fact that since your competitor decided to do something you better do it as well. “Keeping up with the Jones” or “So and so is doing it” were never more widely used than they are now albeit for different reasons. Instead of spending, it is reducing and cutting back or choosing to do something because you are more afraid to not participate than you are confident to attend. The common theme that I keep hearing about this show is that “we waited as long as we could to not attend but too many other people were coming” or how about I am only exhibiting cause my enemies are here”. Well much like the strength of the economy, trade shows are built on confidence, for both the exhibitors who choose to attend and the attendees who register to be there. Here at the IMIS show I am caught with the normal butterflies I get before the floor opens to the attendees. Will it be a successful show for us, will it be a successful show period, how many leads will I be able to gather, will I be wasting my time and my companies money by attending. But unlike MANY of those exhibiting here did I decide to be here because my competitor was attending. Sure we looked at the exhibitor list but it certainly didn’t dictate whether to be here or not. I have confidence in the fact that we attended IMIS because the investment was worth the reward and risk of traveling to Indy.
Two quotes stick out in my mind as I think about our plans for next yeaer and how 2010 will take shape. First and most importantly is echoed in what Chet Atkins said “Everything I have ever done was out of fear of being mediocre”. I hope that I have the foresight and good sense to continue to drive forward to be excellent. The second is directed at my fellow industry associates to get some chutzpah and stop worrying about what others are doing, just focus on making good products and providing good service. After those two things are worked out the other decisions get a whole lot easier.
As H. Jackson Browne said “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that is where the fruit is” and I couldn’t agree more.
Keep it in boost,