Guest Blog

Stuffed Shelves

January 3, 2011

Before I start, my Italian wife just walked by and wanted to know if I was writing a cook book. No, but this could actually be a recipe for survival; for companies, that is. I told her that the other day I had stopped by a small fuel oil company to say hello to a friend (John, as he is called by humans). As I usually do, I asked him how business was. He replied that things were still slow, and that the owner of the company was complaining about cash flow and thinking about laying off one of the guys. While we chewed the fat, my friend continued to straighten out a huge pile of boxes on a shelf. With that, my wife said that she had heard enough, was hoping that I was going to cook tonight, and left the room. “How do you cook Ring Dings?” I wondered.

Anyway, John was organizing all of these boxes on these shelves which were filled with circulator pumps of every shape (?), brand, and size that you can think of. Tacos, B&Gs, Grundfos, you name it, they were all represented. “What are you doing with all of those?” I asked, pretending to be interested. “I don’t know, they’ve been here forever, and every time we do a boiler job, the manager orders one extra, “just in case.” Besides the 40 or so you see here, each of our four trucks has at least five more on board!

Believe me when I tell you, this was not even the tip of the inventory iceberg in this little shop. The $5,000 in circulators was dwarfed by the sea of furnace pieces, zone dampers, ductwork and other miscellaneous parts that made it difficult to find a truck in the garage of this place. Unfortunately, I think this is more the norm than not these days with any size company. Simply put, that very well may be your job sitting on the shelf. Even if it’s the owner himself buying too much stuff, your personal employment may depend on you making sure those things get used instead of him buying another. Help them turn that stuff into cash before they decide that their payroll is too big. John’s solution, by the way, was to throw it all in the trash. Dumpster diving, anyone?
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