Close

August 25, 1995

Go Big or Go Home

Share With Friends

Tom Chadwick told himself that he was making as much noise as a blind bear crashing through the tree branches and underbrush. He had lost the trail some time ago, but that wasn’t stopping him. His goal was the summit of the mountain, and if he just kept going up, he knew, he would get there eventually.
Finally he did.
Brushing himself off, he took a seat on a stone ledge and looked out over the Blue Ridge Mountains receding into the distance in every direction around him. Yet even this glorious sight could not distract him for long from the matters that had been occupying his mind.
He was staying at the lodge whose green roof was barely visible on the slope below, taking his usual “retreat before the retreat.” He liked to have a day or two by himself to think before his executive team joined him for their yearly dream-a-thon for their Norfolk-based company, HomeBright Products. This year, the main topic of conversation was particularly momentous.
The company Tom had started seventeen years earlier had done well through its supply contract with a regional retailer. HomeBright’s area rugs, light fixtures, accent pieces, and the like were known throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. Back at HQ, the HomeBright family was stable, prosperous, and happy—just like Tom had always wanted it to be.
The issue at hand was that their retailer was making a big push to go national, and it was pressing HomeBright to go national along with it. If Tom and his team were to agree, this raised lots of questions. They would need massive growth capital—where would it come from? Would it be possible for Tom to continue to own the majority of the company, as he had done so far? Every part of his company would feel the shock of the changes; how would the employees react? What new positions would he need to hire for? Where would they do the new manufacturing that would be required? Should he look into outsourcing customer service, or even production, to IndiAsia?
Or should he expand the company through merger instead?
Or should he try to find another retail partner that wouldn’t put the external growth pressure on HomeBright?
Any one of these strategies might be the straightest avenue to success in the future. Any of them might be a route to dismal failure.
He didn’t like having to make such a big decision so fast. Maybe he should just sell out and let somebody else have the headache.
Tom thought back to the excitement of founding the company when he was a young man. His wife had pointed out to him just the other day that, whenever he told stories about the company, the ones that really lit him up were the ones from the early years—when every day brought a crisis to resolve, when riches were separated from ruin by a knife’s edge. Scary in the moment, exciting in retrospect. Maybe stable wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Tom started pacing back and forth across the summit of the mountain. As he did so, he gauged the temperature of the fire in his belly for a new challenge. And he found it was pretty hot. Nah, he wouldn’t sell out. Go big or go home! He still had little idea how he would take the company through the most ambitious expansion in its history. But somehow he believed that, if he kept making his own trail up and up, he’d reach the mountaintop eventually.
One thing was sure: this time tomorrow, his team would be looking to him for leadership. He’d better figure out how best to provide it to them.
He paced some more.

Share With Friends