In our Midwestern youths, Fred and I lived in a combined 20+ different cities. When new school acquaintances would ask me why my family moved so much, I’d tell them that my father was wanted by the police. This helped to keep me laughing as I marched into another fresh reality, but in truth, we moved because my father was continually promoted, this back in the day when working for a corporation was like being in the army. If you said “no,” that was the end of your career. The good thing about that kind of impermanence is that it gave us a whole lot of great city names to consider as we branded our businesses.
When we bought the print shop, we renamed it Princeton Press after a town in Illinois where Fred had lived. When we green-fielded our current company, we went with The Quincy Group, honoring Quincy, Illinois where I was born as was my mother and her mother before her. I also attended college at Quincy College, now University. In fact, when you read this, we’ll be in Quincy visiting my family for Oktoberfest. It’s very German there, with a Catholic Church or tavern on every corner. Given the demographic, I can sometimes actually feel petite when visiting.
There is a certain warmth that comes from driving through a town where not much has changed in the last 50 years. Everything is familiar. Everything is in its place. For Metro Seattleites like us, it’s a balm. Here in our area, every drive brings an exasperated “What the hell is that?” cry as we’re continually distracted and amazed by things that weren’t there mere months before.
But watch what you ask for. Lack of change and growth may provide comfort, but can also mean decay. Downtown Quincy is filled with grand but empty brick buildings while big box stores plow into the cornfields east of town, putting their backs to the Mississippi River. In the meantime, although the morphing of Seattle can be hard to negotiate, there’s a palatable energy and excitement that accompanies the changes.
It’s the same in business. There’s a comfort in declaring “It’s how we’ve always done it.” It’s easy to consider employees, processes, or offerings as sacrosanct and untouchable. It’s harder to jump in and question the way that it’s been for years. But it’s also necessary if you want to own a sustainable, viable business. If you’d like to talk about changes, let us know. We’d love to help. We’re thinking our fried food and beer detox should be complete by the 21st, so I’d wait until then if I were you.