>Jim Wier said ‘no’ to Wal-Mart.
Wier is the former CEO of Simplicity, the people who make Snapper brand lawnmowers, and his applause-creating stand against the brand-killer from Arkansas is highlighted in a new book by Charles Fishman, titled “The Wal-Mart Effect” The Wier story is excerpted in the Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Fast Company.
It was in October 2002 and the vice president in charge of buying lawnmowers told Weir that he wanted to buy even more mowers. Wier, who started sweating, said “Let me tell you why it doesn’t work.”
“Wier traveled to Bentonville with a firm grasp of the values of Snapper, the dynamics of the lawn-mower business, the needs of the dealers, the needs of the Snapper customer, and the needs of the Wal-Mart customer. He was not dazzled by the tens of millions of dollars’ worth of lawn mowers al-Mart was already selling for Snapper’; he was not deluded about his ability to beat Wal-Mart at its own game, to somehow resist the price pressure. He was not imaginging that he could take the sales now and figure out the profits later.
“Jim Wier believed that Snapper’s health – indeed, its very long-term survival – required that it not do business with Wal-Mart.”
In other words, he looked to his brand to decide to whom he was gong to sell his products. Even more amazing, he actually looked at the retailers’ customer before realizing that the opportunity wasn’t aligned with his brand. His brand told him NOT to sell through Wal-Mart.
By his own admission in the except/book, no lightning bolt struck even though Snapper instantly gave up almost 20 percent of its business. “But when we told the dealers that they would no longer find Snapper in Wal-Mart,” writes Wier, “they were very pleased with that decision. And I think we got most of the business back by winning the hearts of the dealers.”
He’s now working for someone else, but I want his autograph. He’s my hero.
Note: The book’s author, Charles Fishman, is a senior author of Fast Company.