By Cindy Juncaj
Feb. 18, 2010
Home is where the heart is, but for a business owner home can also be where you can develop strategies and partnerships to help you save time and money.
As a company that helps consumers celebrate the simple joys of great food, better health and the comfort and support of community and strong family ties, the reality of an especially weakened Midwestern economy hit us hard over the last few years. We needed to continue to grow and it was going to be a challenge given the current business and consumer environment. Like many of you, we needed to find ways to cut costs without impacting the value and quality of our products.
I believe today’s business climate is different. It is not just about pricing, but building relationships for the long haul. I decided to form partnerships in Michigan and throughout the region with “like-minded” businesses. I looked for companies similar in size and sales revenue. And I sought long term partnerships-businesses with the same goals and the same philosophy.
Because I tend to think outside the box, I looked for partners not afraid to take risks. For example, a structured minded printer simply would not be a good fit for me. I looked closely at my vendors and suppliers and tried to localize my business needs.
I hired a printing company, Service Pace, a design company called Graphinity and an international shipping company, Orion Transportation, all located in southeastern Michigan. They have not let me down. I feel we are all on the same page, growing, prospering and benefiting each other.
This strategic emphasis on local partnerships has turned out to be beneficial on many levels. I realized time saved working closely with suppliers within an hour’s drive in the Metro area. Meetings could be easily arranged and relationships could be cultivated and established.
We’ve also been able to save money on shipping and travel expenses. The long term “family-like” relationships have cost-saving benefits. Just as important, the companies I partner with are eager to work cohesively.
I’ve also tried to do my part stimulating the local retail economy by utilizing a local florist and local jeweler for our sales representative incentive awards. I decorated our office with treasures from a local resale shop. It is cozy, inviting and charming. I was able to save money and support local retailers.
And I am still looking for partnerships, from technology and IT partners to distributors and food supply companies. There are great local candidates here in the Midwest I plan to pursue. It is not a race to find them. These important business relationships take time and I am confident the right one will come along soon.
I hope more business leaders will strive to do their part to help each other regionally. We can all prosper as we all realize the impact that local businesses-large and small-are making to our nation’s economy.
Cindy Juncaj is president and CEO, Demarle at Home, a $6 million direct sales specialty food and cookware company in Highland, Mich.