3 Lessons We've Learned From 100 Years In Business
After a century of business, we’ve learned quite a bit. The amazing thing in this changing world is that we still have the opportunity to learn every day. Things move fast nowadays, but never too fast to take a retrospective look on the lessons the past has taught us in the name of a better and brighter future.
As we think back on our last century in business, we realize that we’ve learned a thing or two… here are some of our favorite hard-earned pearls of wisdom, handed down to us by the amazing men and women from our past.
Don’t stay in the business of making buggy whips.
Norm Miller (from the second generation of Millers at Miller Diversified) used to say that if he had stayed in the business of making buggy whips, he’d have gone out of business.
When the greenhouse business began to decline, Norm knew it was time for a significant change. The greenhouse was becoming more and more expensive to maintain, and competition was getting tougher and tougher because vegetables were getting trucked in from the Southern states. Norm could see the writing on the wall… if he didn’t pivot, the business would go under.
Toledo was growing at that time, and he had received several offers to buy the land the greenhouses were occupying. Norm made the all-but-impossible decision to sell the greenhouses and dive into the world of real estate development. The decision was no small feat, but Norm had faith that it would work out.
If all you know is buggy whips, making a change can be tough, but we’ve learned after 100 years that abandoning the proverbial buggy whip can be the most rewarding decision of all.
The victory is the tree.
We like to think of our business as a tree. A cross section of our tree will show you 100 rings for 100 years in business. Some years were smashing successes, but others were lean and trying years, or years where we barely grew at all.
We don’t let the high highs make us complacent, and we don’t let the low lows weigh us down. The victory is not in the day-to-day… the victory is the tree that survives, thrives, and grows.
You’re always farming.
Throughout the course of the last 100 years, one thing about the Millers hasn’t changed: We are farmers.
We started off as farmers, and we are still farmers to this day, in every sense of the word. The Millers still own and operate farmland. It is a part of ourselves that keeps us in touch with the land, and the beauty of the world around us.
More importantly, however we still farm in our daily work at Miller Diversified, in a metaphorical sense of the word. Business is about cultivating things. Relationships, partnerships, friendships… each of these things takes time, care, and intention to grow, and growing is in our blood. We’ve learned that applying our farm minds to a problem can often yield the best solutions.
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