Poor business decisions

Ralph Voss
Unterrified Democrat

Aaron Montgomery Ward was a traveling salesman who saw a need for a catalog store and in 1872 began such an operation with his “catalog” consisting of one sheet of paper listing 163 items for sale. Operating under the name Montgomery Ward, the company was to expand and prosper, although it never seemed to be as well received as competitors JC Penney and Sears & Roebuck.

Until about 1970, Wards — as it was commonly called — was able to compete with Penney’s and Sears. Around this time the company’s fortunes started going south. Various internet stories blame the company’s downturn on bad business decisions made many years prior. But business schools around the country saw things differently.

The business schools cited a decision made around 1970 (I am unable to find the exact date) in which Wards sent a letter to all of its credit card customers stating that it was going to provide the customers with a life insurance policy and bill the customer’s credit card account. If you didn’t want the policy, all you had to do was tell the company you didn’t want to participate. Sounded pretty innocent, but it made me mad as hell. And it also made many thousands of other customers mad — so mad we cut up our credit cards and closed our accounts. 

This was a boneheaded business decision of major proportions. This is why the case was covered by business school textbooks. According to the textbooks, this decision led to the demise of the company, which never recovered and actually closed its doors in 2001. A new company bearing the same name was opened three years later but has no connection with the original company.

We quit the company solely because of the letter. We really liked their kids’ clothes and major appliances. In that period, we purchased an upright freezer which performed admirably until no more than five years ago. Yup! That’s right, almost 45 years of service.

I cite the example of this bad decision by Wards for two reasons:

First, to show that in business there is frequently a serious price to pay when a poor decision is made – unlike our national government where bad decisions can be made daily and no one appears to care all that much.

Secondly, I want to comment on Nike’s decision to use former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in their advertising campaign. Is Nike’s decision a good one from a business perspective? Will enough people (not just Americans, but people from around the world) buy Nikes because they like the ad campaign to offset those who will no longer buy Nikes because they are mad about the ad? I’m not sure how Nike’s decision will turn out. Will the company fold, like Wards? I suspect not. Will it see its profits increase? Possibly. 

Even if the decision proves to be wildly beneficial to Nike’s bottom line, is it a sound one? Does Nike really want to offend the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend this country? Do they really want to offend our millions of veterans who have served with such bravery?

You don’t find liberals in the military. That’s why Al Gore in 2000 wanted to toss out the military ballots. He knew how those folks voted and how they felt toward him. If our brave football players want to take a knee, let them go do it in China or Russia, where the governments practice the socialist policies these gentlemen seem to prefer.

Do you burn the flag to show your dissatisfaction with government policies? Do you protest during the national anthem? No. And most of you will be saddened by the Nike decision. But veterans are the ones who are really the victims of Nike.

And it’s not just Nike, it’s crazy liberals from many walks of life. Recently New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while campaigning for reelection, said, “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”

Cuomo would never have convinced the late Ray Jaegers of that. Ray loved this county and served it well as county clerk. He loved his country even more and served it with great devotion. Ray was one of the first to go ashore at Anzio, Italy, one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Fortunately, Ray was not one of the 56,000 casualties of that battle. 

Another hero of that war is still alive. Albert Haslag of Loose Creek served in the Pacific, where he had to fight on after learning that one of his best friends and a number of other U.S. soldiers were tied up and burned alive by enemy troops. 

America is great. It has always been great. But it’s great not because of professional football players who take a knee during the National Anthem. And it’s not great because of NFL advertisers like Nike. America is great because millions of warriors like Ray Jaegers and Albert Haslag paid an immense price so that these NFL clowns can have the freedom to make fools of themselves, while offending millions of fellow Americans.

We owe an enormous debt to all of our veterans who have served this great nation, and we thank them for their service. But it’s especially interesting to note that had we not been successful in World War II, the heirs of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini would be running America and the rest of the world. And it’s possibly even more interesting to note that liberals of the 30s were singing the praises of Hitler and Mussolini. Liberals seldom get it right.