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Tugboat Learning Lessons

Tugboat Learning Lessons

About a year ago I joined the https://www.tugboatinstitute.com/ an organization founded in 2005 that is dedicated to supporting CEOs, presidents, and nextgen leaders and their companies through offering various summits, forums, and opportunities for networking and collaborative feedback between some of the brightest business leaders in the United States. Evergreen, one arm of the Tugboat Group is grounded in 7 principles, or P’s that are: purpose, perseverance, people first, private, profit, paced growth, and pragmatic innovation, which are the core values to ensure Evergreen companies will positively impact their employees, customers, suppliers, communities, and families.

So far it’s been a wonderful experience that has allowed me to soak up knowledge from other company executives, ranging from smaller businesses to Fortune 500 companies and has provided valuable insight for moving Mimo forward.

Recently, I had an opportunity to join other entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids to check out and learn from Meijer, a bustling family-owned business with 73,000 employees that generates huge revenue while offering innovation others can learn from. Here are a few key takeaways from my time there:

  • Continue to invest in tech and innovate: One thing that was truly remarkable about Meijer is the incredibly forward-thinking, efficient and innovative technology that they’ve invested in. As one example, their inventory arrives at their warehouses in palettes of the same products from suppliers, but their technology is programmed to know how to take those palettes and arrange everything into mixed palettes precisely by aisle for each specific store, without human hands needing to do anything. With this continued innovation, they ensure that they stay ahead of the technological curve while ensuring to provide value to their customers, employees, and communities.
  • Evolve or die: When Walmart first came onto the scene, Meijers labor costs were significantly higher, so immediately competing on price was not an option. To ensure they remained competitive and stood the test of time, Meijer placed their resources and energy not just on the short-term, but into long-term technological advancement to cultivate long-term efficiency and success in the long run. To remain relevant and at the top of the consumer consideration set, successful businesses are always evolving, whether that is because of a brilliant innovation created in-house, or reacting to the forces of the market and their competitors.
  • We are in the people business: Any business ultimately is about people, not product and that includes both the customer as well as the people who work for the company. It’s crucial to cultivate a sense of belonging and Meijer aims to do this with their company culture ensuring they value and take care of their employees who work for them. People are always the heartbeat of any business so it's crucial to keep them at the center of everything you do.
  • Real-time Feedback is key: It’s crucial to have a good and efficient feedback loop so you can get feedback and adapt quickly and in real-time both internally and externally. This applies equally whether they are evaluating an employee or there was customer feedback about an issue in the store. Their technology gets that feedback to someone who can address it within minutes of the complaint.
  • Thoughtfully experiment and make smart bets: Experimentation and innovation is an important and exciting part of business but it’s also important to be thoughtful in how big of bets you place on any one idea. Sometimes the ideas fail but sometimes they are the next big thing! The failure of an idea is not to be regretted, but if it’s not working, adjust or move on.

I look forward to more events with Tugboat and opportunities to connect with other members in the future. If anyone is interested in my experience with Tugboat, and if this group might be right for you, please reach out. 


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