Fast Company recently ran a profile of Jim Wier, the head of Snapper lawn mowers. It is a tale of wisdom and shows that in some cases saying no is the wiser choice. From The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman.
“What struck Wier first, as he entered the Wal-Mart vice president’s office, was the seating area for visitors. “It was just some lawn chairs that some other peddler had left behind as samples.” The vice president’s office was furnished with a folding lawn chair and a chaise lounge.
It was a Wal-Mart moment that couldn’t be scripted, or perhaps even imagined. A vice president responsible for billions of dollars’ worth of business in the largest company in history has his visitors sit in mismatched, cast-off lawn chairs that Wal-Mart quite likely never had to pay for.
Tens of thousands of executives make the pilgrimage to northwest Arkansas every year to woo Wal-Mart, marshaling whatever arguments, data, samples, and pure persuasive power they have in the hope of an order for their products, or an increase in their current order.
Selling Snapper lawn mowers at Wal-Mart wasn’t just incompatible with Snapper’s future — Wier thought it was hazardous to Snapper’s health. Snapper is known in the outdoor-equipment business not for huge volume but for quality, reliability, durability.
But Snapper lawn mowers are not cheap, any more than a Viking range is cheap. The value isn’t in the price, it’s in the performance and the longevity.
“When we told the dealers that they would no longer find Snapper in Wal-Mart, they were very pleased with that decision. And I think we got most of that business back by winning the hearts of the dealers.” Business remains strong as as result of Wier’s No.