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Stay in the Driver’s Seat —Cagle

September 2007

IN EASILY one of the more fun field trips this reporter has had the opportunity to take, our good friends at Eastman Kodak brought customers, journalists and analysts up to Rochester, NY, for a pre-Graph Expo roundup. As part of the weekend, Kodak treated its guests to a NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Watkins Glen, NY.

During festivities in the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes region, Kodak provided a 15-minute flesh pressing with the driver of the No. 12 Kodak car, Ryan Newman. Unfortunately, early in the race, Newman lost control of his Penske Racing Dodge in full view of the Turn 11 grandstand where the Kodak guests were seated. Still, Newman managed to make it out of the sand trap en route to a respectable 13th place finish.

I’m surprised Jeff Hayzlett, Kod-ak’s marketing maven, didn’t bother to point out that Kodak machines keep on rolling, even in tight spots.

It was truly disappointing, however, to see my favorite driver Jeff Gordon give the race away. Gordon led for 51 of the 90 laps and enjoyed a lead of three car lengths over eventual winner Tony Stewart. But Gordon drove his car too hard into Turn 1 of the winding road course and bobbled just before spinning out on the next-to-last lap. That opened the door for Stewart to weasel his way into victory lane.

Gordon later admitted to driver error. But, I wonder how many of Kodak’s printer guests picked up on some of the valuable lessons offered in Gordon’s transgressions:

Gordon led most of the way—more than half the race—but didn’t deliver in the end. It’s difficult to rationalize the equity you feel your printing company has accrued with earlier jobs when you drop the ball in the 11th hour. All that’s left is a hollow feeling, for you and your client.

Mindful of Tony Stewart in his rear view, Gordon was reactive and not proactive. You cannot afford to worry about what your competition is doing. Is your company taking care of business and expanding into areas that can provide value for customers? Do you offer clients turnkey solutions that will prevent them from jumping ship for the lower cost provider?

Are your customers in love with you? Really, are they? If they love you, there’s nothing to worry about.

PASSED OVER: Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in a pool of prospective jury servers for duty in State Supreme Court, but was passed over in an asbestos litigation lawsuit. The plaintiff was a woman whose husband, a former printing press operator, had died after years of alleged exposure to the asbestos that was contained in the brakes.

After two days of not getting picked, the billionaire mayor went back to his day job.

BOGUS BUCKS: In the era of counterfeiting, the good ’ol U.S. greenback remains a popular target of thieves looking to literally make a few extra dollars. We have a couple of stories out of the New England area, with contrasting counterfeit quality, but ultimately the same result: a bust.

In July, a 17-year-old was arrested in Somerset, MA, and charged with 15 counts of forgery, possession of counterfeit money and conspiracy. The teen used his dad’s computer and printer to generate the ersatz scratch. While the reproduction quality was strong for a home office printer, the giveaway was the inferior paper he used.

Not that using a photo copier increases your chances of being able to pawn off bum bucks. Jeremy Hurd, 36, of Utica, NY, was arrested after an investigation by Salem, NH, police led to the discovery of $1,500 in counterfeit twenties and fifties. Authorities said the fake money was of a sufficient quality to fool area businesses where they had been passed.

NO HABLO ESPAÑOL: This final item comes from Merrimack, NH, where two town councilors objected to posting user rules for a public beach in Spanish.

In July, the town’s parks and recreation director requested signs with Wasserman Park beach rules listed in Spanish because a number of visitors could not read English. That caused a mild uproar among the councilors, some of whom took great exception to the thought of funding Español signs.

“I know where I live,” Michael Malzone told the AP. “I am in the United States of America, and I am not going to spend my tax dollars to put up foreign language signs.”

The request for signs in Spanish originated with the police department. Some Latino, non-English-speaking beachgoers have been too loud and/or brought alcohol to the beach—two rules that are stipulated on the signs—prompting the police to intercede.

Raising the subject of tax dollars is ridiculous; how hard would it be to laser print the rules in Spanish and affix them to a sign?

These people are visitors from other towns, injecting money into Merrimack’s economy by purchasing gas, food and supplies locally. Malzone should spend time in a country whose primary language is not English.

Fortunately for us Americans, English is a second language for many Europeans, Asians and Middle Easterners. I found visiting Germany, without having a firm grasp on that country’s language, to be a bit intimidating. But a warm smile and broken English can make you feel quite welcome—and at home.

Erik Cagle

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