Our area suffered a great loss last month. One of our beloved regional dairies, Smith Creamery, was destroyed by an explosion and fire. For those of us who love our Louisiana-based businesses and patronize our local farmer’s markets, news of this disaster hit on a personal level.
Fast forward to yesterday. Kleinpeter Dairy, a Baton Rouge-based dairy farm and a competitor of Smith Creamery, announced that it will be processing, packaging and distributing Smith Creamery milk products. I encourage you to read the entire story here.
Two particular quotes from Jeff Kleinpeter, president of Kleinpeter Dairy, caught my attention.
“It’s not necessarily that we look at them as competition,” Kleinpeter said, “we look at them as partners in an industry.”
“We’re going to continue our partnership until they’re on their feet,” Kleinpeter said. “Now if that takes three months, fine. If it takes six months … if it takes five years, it doesn’t matter. As long as we can help them, we’re going to be there to help these guys out.”
I don’t think a single soul would have given a second thought to Kleinpeter Dairy taking advantage of the situation to increase its market share; matter of fact, many would say it was a common-sense business move.
But Kleinpeter chose to put its ego aside and do the right thing-help a partner in the industry for as long as it takes because it will only help to make the industry stronger.
Wow, you just don’t hear about that kind of thing in today’s business climate.
Or life in general. It’s all about me and what I can get out of the situation no matter if my actions cause harm to others or causes division amongst the ranks.
There are some things going on in my industry at present that have caused enormous distress and distrust. Perhaps the parties involved could learn a thing or two from these two dairy farmers:
- We are all in this together;
- Check your ego at the door;
- Do what is right, even if doing the right thing goes against all conventional wisdom;
- Keep your eye on the big picture, not just your limited corner of the universe.
Actually, this is a message for everyone.