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  KD MAGAZINE! 
Posted: February 6, 2006 -
יום שני, ח' בשבט, תשס"ו
 
 

Financial Inspiration
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

Though I sometimes browse through the financial section, it’s not often that I get inspiration from financial articles, but this week I did. I was intrigued when I read an article called, The Man Who Said No To Walmart.”

Being that Walmart is the Mecca of stores and thousands of executives venture to Bentonville, Arkansas, hoping to get their products onto the shelves of the world's biggest retailer, I wondered what could cause a man tell Walmart “no”. 

The news story, by Charles Fishman, reads as follows. Jim Wier’s company sold lawn equipment known for its quality, reliability, durability. But the lawn mowers Jim Wier sells are not cheap, any more than other quality appliances come cheap. The value isn't in the price, it's in the performance and the longevity. 

This got me thinking, “How often do we take the time to recognize our value and the value of those around us? Do we ever think about and acknowledge that we are each a G-d made quality product?” If we would recognize and acknowledge this maybe we would have the strength of character that let Jim Weir say no! 

Wier looked into a future of supplying his product to Wal-Mart and saw a whirlpool of lower prices, collapsing profitability, offshore manufacturing and the gradual but irresistible corrosion of the very qualities for which his lawn equipment was known. Jim Wier looked into the future and saw a death spiral and had the courage, the foresight, to take an unblinking view of where his Wal-Mart business was heading -- not in year three, or year four, but year 10. 

How many of us stop and take a fearless look at future impact before we take a major step in our lives? Do we think about our values in marriage before we select a spouse? Do we make sure there are appropriate neighbors before moving our family to a different neighborhood? Do we take peer pressure into account when choosing our social circles? Do we look down the road often enough? Do we take an “unblinking view of the future” when making our decisions?

Wier was not dazzled by the tens of millions of dollars' worth of lawn mowers Wal-Mart was already selling; he was not deluded about his ability to beat Wal-Mart at its own game, to somehow resist the price pressure. He was not imagining that he could take the sales now and figure out the profits later. Jim Wier believed that his company's health -- indeed, its very long-term survival -- required that it not do business with Walmart. 

How many times do parents come to me to help solve a problem with their children that didn’t have to be a problem? They made a crucial decision about the family’s religious affiliation, their child’s school or even vacation destination and the impact of that decision didn’t hit them till many years later. At the time their judgement seemed correct because that’s what ‘everyone was doing’ and they didn’t have the courage to question the popular culture, but much later it became clear that had they thought things through they would have done differently. Too late they realized that doing things to impress others or spending more than they could afford wasn’t very clever. 

And though 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, Jim wanted Wal-Mart to stop selling his Snapper mowers. 

The article struck me and Jim Wier’s actions stunned me and got me thinking. “How often do we do a “Jim Wier”? How much anguish could we be spared if we did? 

The article was in the financial section, and I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be inspirational, but for me it was definitely food for thought!!!  


Read more articles by Rabbi Hecht  

 

 
     
 
 
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