Ideas and Values – Small is Beautiful

Oct 24, 2018 | General

In 1973 Ernst Schumacher published a fascinating little book “Small is beautiful “ in which his proposition was that –

Man’s current pursuit of profit and progress, which promotes giant organizations and increased specialization, has in fact resulted in gross economic inefficiency, environmental pollution and inhumane working conditions.-

I had an interesting conversation with a long standing customer this morning. We have supplied them for many years and admired their approach to business.

Always pleasant to deal with, fair in their treatment of suppliers. Tough in price negotiations but always paying on time.  Their flexibility and willingness to go the extra mile made them a favourite with their customers in a very competitive market. So far so good, this was a successful medium sized company, but not spectacularly so.

Recently the family owners decided to cash in and sold the business to a large multi national conglomerate with a policy and strategy of achieving “growth via acquisition”. (Otherwise known as asset stripping ). The cold corporate winds are beginning to blow. The process of reshaping the square peg of a family business focused on its customer and caring for its suppliers into the round hole of corporate conformity will be painful. The adoption of a common I.T. system will present the least of problems. Systems of reporting, responding to a remote management hierarchy located in a different time zone and the necessity to adopt a C.Y.A. system of accountability will all take their toll. Much will be lost, particularly in service to customers whose needs will inevitably be secondary to the necessity to attend endless crowded meetings and to worship at the altar of  “The System”.

Is it all bad though? What may be gained? Corporate growth is the aim and with growth comes an increase in the share price, more jobs and more job security. At least that’s the theory. But how is this growth to be maintained if the priority of customer care is relegated down the list of concerns. If the partnership with a supplier is to be henceforth only defined by the cheapness of the price? The God of the “System” requires his sacrifice in ever reducing costs, in personal job satisfaction, pressure on wages and salaries. Fewer heads and more work, longer hours and 24/7 dedication to the cause of corporate growth. Assets will be sweated, heads will roll, nights will be sleepless.

Much is written and  spoken about ethics in business. Companies have mission statements piously stating their commitment to quality and fairness. When accidents happen the media spokespeople issue a statement assuring us that for their  company customer or employee safety is of paramount importance and we all nod our heads sagely and take this as fact. When the real  truth is that profit, growth and share price are the only values that really count.

That is unless you are in a position to have control of your business and push those ethics of fairness, transparency and customer service to the very forefront of your relationship with employees customers and supply partners. These are the values of Avocet Precision Metals. We are a family business who know our customers and supply partners needs. We value all our customers large and small and understand that in order to survive and prosper in a competitive market we have to offer not just to go the extra mile for our customers and partners but to carry their burden too. We must not just deliver but we must exceed expectations. We don’t just deal with  the possible but also the impossible, although sometimes this may take a little longer to fulfil. Above all our values are real for us and by focussing on them it helps us make that difference.

For Avocet Precision small IS beautiful, we specialise in precision metals in strip, foil, tube and wire forms. Often in small sizes, often with tiny tolerances, often in small quantities. However our knowledge, experience, attention to detail and our personal customer service is a BIG part of our offer to the market. Please see our product pages for steel, stainless steel, nickel alloys, copper, aluminium silver and Titanium.