Local Leaders or Corporate Conglomos?

Local Leaders or Corporate Conglomos?

Some folks may have heard that there have been some issues
with my new truck. Visiting Wyoming over
the holiday break, the beast refused to start. Now to be fair, it gets cold in the mountains of Wyoming. Grizzly bear intelligence is under-rated,
because sleeping in a warm cave is the best way to deal with a Wyoming
winter. But the second best way is to
hop in your warm truck and try your rusty ski skills out on the local
slopes. 

It is a little bit frustrating to get into your gear, climb
into the truck and listen to it constantly crank and not catch. What is infinitely more frustrating is to call
roadside assistance early in the morning and have them lose your information
once, and not get help to you until 11 hours later.

Besides cold winters and great skiing, Wyoming is known for
its sparse population. Naturally, there
was no dealership within a 60-mile radius. So when attempts to reach corporate for advice on what to do with their
non-functioning product are met with lost calls, runaround, and infinite
voicemail loops, one can get frustrated. Three days I spent wrestling with corporate and trying to get
satisfaction. In the end, they never
called me back to follow up on my month-old truck.
I know, a sad tale of a first-world problem. But there are some good guys in this
story. While my experience with the
corporate conglomerate was bordering contemptuous, three entities stood out and
they had one thing in common. Woody’s Hungry Bear Grocery and Tow Service
was the local outfit that came and picked up my truck to transport it to the
local dealership in Afton, Wyoming. Both
were service-minded, friendly, responsive, and did the job right. When I got home, I went to my local
dealership and they dealt with corporate on my behalf to insure that I was
reimbursed for the costs that I had incurred. They took the extra step of installing a block heater on the truck at
their expense. 

The common denominator, in case you missed it, was local,
local, and local. With a few
well-publicized exceptions, corporate conglomerates are not well known for
service. On the other hand, when the
people with whom you are dealing are your friends and neighbors, the equation
changes and so does the level of service.

That, friends, is why local control works best. Nothing against our colleagues and friends in
the legislature and state department, but the folks back home are in the best
position to know the local issues and to make decisions to improve local
situations. There is an attitude among
some in Topeka that the best way to improve schools is to centralize more power
in Topeka. But schools are not manufacturers;
education is a service business. It may be more efficient for an auto manufacturer
to operate that way, but not more effective. Locals know how to provide the service that is needed at a fair price.