My first full-time consulting assignment was for an outdoor power equipment company, we’ll call it “Bill’s Four-Season Power”, in a rural area in western Virginia. It’s the type of place that sells gas powered lawn mowers, trimmers, and lawn tractors in the summer, then snow blowers, chain saws, and wood choppers in the winter. The store was well stocked with recognized brands and they had a lot of long-term customers including a couple of local fire departments. Four full-time repair people on staff in the service department made sure that the customers stayed happy; they could repair just about anything.
Sales were good, and they were well respected by their suppliers. They had incredible credit terms with their key manufacturers. The showroom was clean, brightly lit, and had a coffee machine so people could take their time and relax while talking to the staff about their power equipment needs.
So why was I there?
“Their cash was dangerously...