In August every year, Weatherby Lake hosts the Jeremey Katzenberger Memorial Triathlon, an event honoring a fallen Army Ranger who grew up here. In yesterday’s planning meeting for the 2022 event, the chairwoman suggested limiting participants to 200 again this year, as we had done through COVID. In the previous ten annual races, we had hosted almost 300 participants and measured our success on how many racers our event could attract.

“Why?” I asked. “COVID is over; why are we sticking with a COVID-driven limitation?” As we approached 300 participants, the team observed that problems emerged—parking, race traffic control, congestion in the transition area, and even pre-maturely running out of free beer! In the last two years, the race was safer, more intimate, and had higher satisfaction for participants. And, our contribution to Sua Sponte Foundation, the race’s beneficiary, was $5,000 higher in 2021 than any previous year!

Quality over quantity.

Bottom line over top line.

Recognizing and staying in your wheelhouse.

Delivering on your promise.

Living your mission statement.

These terms flooded my brain as I left the meeting. In the past months, I have seen many examples of business leaders rethinking their approach to their market.

    • My favorite French restaurant is now open Wednesday through Saturday. The owners decided that selectively being open on their busiest nights enabled them to be involved in operations personally, minimize the effect of labor shortages while maximizing profits, and balance their home life with two young daughters
    • A Construction company, continuously analyzes job profitability, manageability, and customer satisfaction. They now only bid on projects that meet certain criteria and adjusted their growth plans to find more projects in their sweet spot and fewer “churn & burn” projects.
    • A manufacturing company exiting large box national chain stores in favor of serving individual professionals who depend on their products more reliably and profitably.

To many of us, turning down sales is counter-intuitive. Heck, it’s almost communist! Sales have been the biggest hurdle for our businesses in the past. Bringing in the big deal was cause for celebration. And growing that top line was everything! “If I can just make that sale, I’ll figure out how to deliver!” has been our mantra for growth. Bigger is better, right?

With today’s labor shortages, supply chain issues, and unstable commodity prices, this strategy disappoints more customers than it pleases. My friend, who leads a multi-billion dollar steel company said that even they are being very selective about the products they sell and the orders they take. “our on-time delivery stats sunk from 90% to 20% in the last year. We had to reassess our capabilities and choke points, and redesign our business around what we do best.”

We have seen many changes in the business landscape in the past couple of years. Is this new selective approach here to stay, or just a reaction to current business conditions? No one knows, but perhaps it’s time to have a look at your business through a different lens.

Augie Grasis
Post by Augie Grasis
June 9, 2022
August (Augie) Grasis is a serial technology entrepreneur who has founded and built four companies throughout his 35+ year professional career. He has a passion for businesses and the entrepreneurs who lead them. Augie founded and led Handmark, a mobile industry pioneer which helped establish the mobile app and mobile advertising businesses. During its 13 year history, Handmark served millions of customers, raised venture capital from both coasts, grew to 100+ employees and $35M in revenues before its sale to Sprint in 2013. Augie was awarded E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (Midwest, Technology) in 2009 and Handmark was named to Kansas City’s Champions of Business three successive years. Prior to Handmark, Augie founded Foresight Resources, a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software company in the early days of the Personal Computer. Foresight developed the first CAD for Windows and invented the DIY Home Design software market before being acquired by Autodesk in 1997. Most recently, Augie teamed up with his son and experienced transportation executives to co-found FreightorGator, a freight Industry tech startup with new approach to LTL freight booking. He was responsible for launching the company and building its online service before turning it over to partners in 2017. Augie currently serves on the Board of Directors of Milbank, a family owned, industry leading manufacturer of electrical components and mentors business students at UMC & UMKC. Augie lives at Weatherby Lake with his bride of 39 years. They have three grown children and four grandchildren (so far) and attend the Vineyard KC church. Downtime is spent restoring, collecting and racing vintage cars, leading an open water swim group, sailing at Weatherby Lake and skiing in Colorado with his family. He serves as fundraising chair for the Jeremy Katzenberger Memorial Triathlon at Weatherby Lake which supports the Sua Sponte Foundation aiding families of injured and fallen soldiers. The event has raised over $100,000 in its six year history.