“I have no desire to scale up or get bigger. My desire is to produce the best food in the world. And if in doing so, more people come to our corner and want stuff, then heaven help me figure out how to meet the need without compromising the integrity.
As soon as you grasp for that growth, you’re gonna view your customer differently, you’re gonna view your product differently, you’re gonna view your business differently. Everything that is the most important – you’re going to view that differently.”
Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms owner.
Joel Salatin, Polyface Farms owner.
Keseyon 29 Nov 09
The problem with that thinking though is that if your customer base begins to outgrow your business and you haven’t thought about how to scale it…you’re going to have some angry customers and take a huge reputation hit.
Jamie, Baymard Instituteon 29 Nov 09
So clear about their priorities. There’s nothing wrong with growing but it is not the focus and can’t get in the way of what is truly important.
One can only admire a man for that sense of purpose.
Yussefon 29 Nov 09
Seems that Sarah has been watching the movie Food, Inc. This is a direct quote from that movie which I welcome everyone to watch and share. There is a few movies that really make an impact on you and make you think about how you live, produce, work, etc.
This was certainly one of them.
Arik Joneson 29 Nov 09
@Kesey I disagree. While scaling is important for any business dealing with growth, it is not always necessary. It’s more or less an exception to the rule (of growth that is).
Georgeon 29 Nov 09
If only the fat cats on Wall Street had this sort of mentality, then a certain crisis would probably never have happened.
Capitalism meets a wall when the board of a company constantly expects growth regardless of every fact in existence, instead of expecting stability.
Why do we constantly expect growth when this is a mathematical impossibility? The reason why we go through these cycles of recessions and growth seems to be this naive and greedy expectation of growth all year every year.
What’s wrong with shooting for 0 in profits, while setting aside lots of R&D and improvement cash in the budget? If there’s a demand for growth, fine, but growth for growth’s sake is ruining the world.
Scotton 29 Nov 09
Growth lets you do tons of good stuff. Grow and you can create jobs, share more of your awesome product with the world, and expand your influence on competitors’, industry, and customers’ practices.
Besides that, the population of the world is growing and always will. If you’re job is producing food or other consumables, there’s always going to be growing demand. Growth is the natural order of things. Trees grow, people grow, the (human) population of the earth grows, businesses grow. Don’t fight it.
Jon 29 Nov 09
Scott: Tumors grow too. Plagues grow. Pollution grows. Wars grow.
Ryan J Nayloron 29 Nov 09
The best food in the world doesn’t exist. Its all in his head. Its great to focus on your product/service, but don’t try to be all elusive.
Scott Milleron 29 Nov 09
No right answer to this one. If growing and scaling makes you happy and fulfilled have at it. If owning the corner market makes for a good life….do it.
Ryan J Nayloron 29 Nov 09
Good point Scott.
Jesseon 29 Nov 09
Food inc great movie and that farmer neds to clone himself and his ideals
Chester Frazieron 30 Nov 09
I have to disagree. Although you have to view your current customers as though they are your only priority, you have to grow, if not, you’ll be successful for a while and then either you or your products become irrelevant. Just my opinion….....
Wayneon 30 Nov 09
As the world changes, your company’s place in it changes – like it or not, you are constantly entering and leaving overlapping marketplaces, “growing” or “shrinking” in each – independent of scaling up or getting bigger. You need profits to pay for the adaptation (product tuning/development), and the rate of growth is a good measure of how well your company is tracking true customer needs.
Alex Richardsonon 30 Nov 09
@Chester Frazer I don’t think growth is unavoidable, or even necessary, for continued success—but you will have to adapt. Growth is one form of adaptation, and not the only one. There are other forms of adaptation that may be better suited to a company’s continued existence.
Doug Ron 30 Nov 09
Joel Salatin’s point is that he can’t grow without compromising the quality of his product. And by extension, he shouldn’t grow, because to him, his product is everything. Growing clean, sustainable food is not just an occupation to him, it’s his mission in life. He is a highly principled man, and if demand grows past his capacity, I believe he’d be perfectly willing to turn away potential customers if the alternative is lowering the standards of what he produces.
The movie Food, Inc has been mentioned, but Joel Salatin is also featured in the excellent book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. I highly recommend it if you care even a little bit about where your food comes from.
Richardon 30 Nov 09
Growth is a choice across quantity, quality and efficiency. Raise any without lowering the other 2 and you’ll profit. The amazing bit is that the idea of fixing quantity in order to sustain/raise the other two is seen as an unusual idea.
blue star web designon 30 Nov 09
it is important to grow a business with the correct attitude, one has to plan for scaling up without sacrificing quality or customer experience
Marcos Wright Kuhnson 30 Nov 09
Another SVN reader happy to see a Food, Inc. reference! Like Doug R. said, above, read Michael Pollan if you if you like Joel Salatin’s quote or are interested in learning more about the food you eat. The food industry is as involved in the capitalistic balance between quality and cost as any part of the market. It’s always comforting to hear people speaking for quality and sustainability when I’m so accustomed to seeing a push for the cheapest luxury possible.
Mikaelon 30 Nov 09
@blue star web design You can’t always have it all. You may want to, you may try to, you may plan to, but you won’t.
And when asked to choose, that man says he’d rather keep quality over quantity. I think if more people thought that way, the world would be a better place.
Everyone should watch Food Inc. Not the type of documentary that some people have grown to hate (I’m thinking about Michael Moore for example). Smart approach, and it shows real people at the heart of the system who see how wrong it is first-hand.
Go watch it.
BillPon 30 Nov 09
After watching Food Inc my wife and I bought a meat CSA (community Supported Agriculture) share from a local farmer. The meat quality is tremendous, and I was able to shake the hand of the person who grew my food. Happy feelings all around.
Added bonus – this was the first time in ages that I had chicken that tasted EXACTLY like the chickens my Grandfather raised growing up.
BillPon 30 Nov 09
BTW – Read Joel Salatin’s book “Everything I want to do is Illegal.” Cheeky! He’s a really sharp guy.
Soothsayeron 30 Nov 09
This argument lies at the crossroads of business and ethics. The dilemma is not whether to grow, but whether to maximize profit at the expense of the product.
In our system, there simply aren’t many producers like Joel Salatin (Ben and Jerry’s is another good example) who will choose quality/karma over profitability. And in a Walmart world, most consumers won’t (or can’t) pay more for products that are healthier, greener, or made locally.
BTW, just watched Food Inc last night. Good flick, and Joel is the best part. The other interesting character is the Stonyfield Farms Yogurt founder, who has made peace selling his product to Walmart and believes doing so furthers the mission of organics.
ps – love The Signals and everything you do!
Justin Reeseon 30 Nov 09
Another shout-out for “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and for Salatin’s superb methods.
That said, I’m very curious if his business model would be sustainable in competition with factory farms without the revenue his “celebrity” status generates (book sales, demand exceeding supply, etc.). I have no reason to believe it’s not sustainable, I’d just like to see how his finances look with farm-only revenue.
Winnie Limon 01 Dec 09
I think people are getting confused with growth vs scaling up here. Scaling up or getting bigger is a part of growth, but growth is not only about these.
Growing a business is necessary, but it doesn’t need to involve expansion. I think Joel Salatin is not adverse to growth in other ways, be it on innovation or on quality.
I feel the same way as well, there is a certain sense of freedom when one stays small and independent. Sagmeister is known for often attributing his success story to his mentor advising him to avoid the temptation to expand and stay small.
Jay Schumacheron 01 Dec 09
Bo Burlingham’s “Small Giants” is a great read about some successful business that stayed small, focusing on their product and customer service as opposed to a “growth strategy” per se. A book really worth taking the time to read…
Tim Jahnon 03 Dec 09
I love this quote. There’s so much emphasis these days on bigger being better. So many companies use their websites to brag about how many employees they have, how many clients they have, how many offices they have, etc.
Bigger is fine, but not necessarily better. Amazing things can be done with small.
This discussion is closed.