Thursday, April 30, 2009

Late Stage MBA- Josh Moritz -Captain Jack, Supply Chain Manage Will Save Us

Supply Chain Management. Before the course I thought it had to do with anchors on ships. But while I do know now that it really has to do with the process of manufacturing a product, delivering a product or providing a service, I had a revelation this morning at the gym that it still has alot to do with boats.

Fellow lap swimmer Captain Jack, graduate of the SUNY Martime Academy, ex- ship captain and now president of a privately held bulk cargo shipping company related how they are protecting their boats off the Gulf of Aden. Dripping wet, towl around his hips, Captain Jack did did say that whatever he was doing it was a way to get pirates to bother someone else. Deterence is the operating word.

I met Jack in Stamford at the Connecticut Martime Association convention a few years ago. Like Koreans who became green grocers in New York City 30 years ago, Greek and Norwegian shipping magnates moved to where other shipping magnates moved to and that was in the area around Greenwich and Stamford, CT., thus the area is now a shipping node as they say in the business. Their children are Americans, going to to Maritime Academies up and down the East Coast, marrying into each others families. They get Masters Degrees in International Transportation Management.They own ships, trade ships, book trade, they run chanderlies, supply ship crews, evacuation, customs paper work, ship hedge funds and private equity investments. In Feb. 2007 people were wondering when the party would end -- it had gone on almost 11 years. By September 2008, it ended.

Maritime conventions are interesting things. All things that matter begin with a chaplain reciting the Mariners Prayer. It don't matter your religion, you stand silently before invocation, because most of the audience knows that the Bermuda Triangle is a real thing. So are pirates.

Back to Jack. Jack's ships are bulk carriers. Pretty much recession proof since they move raw minerals from one place to another. Nice work if you can get it, just have to makes sure you have the right ship in the right place. If you can back haul stuff (learned about back hauling in Supply Chain Management), then you have a great business. As Jack notes, no man is an island and the supply chain is feeling the econonic heat. The biggest concern is staying in business and maximizing the ships. Like Wal-Mart 30 years ago where information allowed Wal-Mart to run trucks with cargo from stores as well as to to stores, the shipping business is trying to figure out how to keep those ships out there longer, competing for ever scarcer cargos. Otherwise Stamford, CT is going to have a lot of large ships sitting out in the Long Island Sound.

Sounds like a Babson Case Study in the making.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Late Stage MBA-Josh Moritz- Plotz to You Drop-Saving the Economy One Challah at a Time

Three comments on Yvonne and Felice, ranging from get a cup of joe to musings of wondering if people are concerned about their jobs, making the mortgage payments or that their house dropped from $5 million to $1.5 million. I think I am going to do an interview with them on the subject of the economy and AIG.

Moving on. The real entrepreneur in the family is Jane Moritz now the owner of Jane bought from sales guy about 6 years ago who had developed a business delivering challah every Friday morning via newspaper delivery people. Stuffed into postal service boxes, sometimes eaten by squirrels and deer with occasional protests from local postmasters, is now a totally online business in the great tradition of catalogers stretching back to Sears and through Kati Muldoon, REI, Smith and Hawkins and even IBM.

Inventory arrives by UPS, USPS, FEDEX and delivery dudes in the morning and picked up as Jewish gift baskets by UPS, USPS, and FEDEX in the evening. Shiva baskets -- the event that marks a Jewish death for seven days after a funeral--are the big sellers, followed by Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa (go figure), Jewish High Holidays, Purim and Passover. Working with Sherry, her underemployed Columbia MBA mom (she should have gone to Babson) and several high school girls who know how to tie a ribbon, the business has grown a great deal through Search and PPC and social media and live chat. Direct mail and advertising are duds.

Over the years she has taken over a few competitors who could not adapt to the new way of the web catalog. They plotzed.

Now I know the goods are good because when I leave little tastings around Babson as bribes to professors and administrators and fellow students, they just kvell. He who shall go nameless even said it reminded him of his mother's baking.

Todays promotion will make you plotz (see it in full living color on her website):

"Mother's Day is May 10! It's the day to make her kvell, plotz and see what a mensch you
are. Free shipping on all orders over $75. Use code FS09. Follow us on Twitter!

For Mother's Day, Give Your Mom Something to Plotz About!
Shop Now and Get Free Shipping!*She'll be so proud of you for getting a deal. Why not make
her proud?"

While you got to love it --she is my wife afterall so I do love it-the real question is who is going to get us out of this economic mess? She and probably the 20 million new small business start-ups who like my wife who come up with a game changing idea that actually makes money, rather papers it over with derivatives, accounting changes to GAAP and the next form of credit default swaps.

Mind you I wish I had the brains to think up a legal and moral form of CDO's. That is why I am in MBA school to make me a more creative thinker -- I am seeing signs that might actually happen, but from a moral point of view, let's hope that some of the financial types out of work come back with some tangible substance buttered on challah.

Meanwhile, Jane is saving the economy one challah at a time.

Note: This is not a paid political announcement, all views herein are mine and not my wife's, the local caterer, customers, prospects or anyone connected with any government agency. But it could be a sales message.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Late Stage MBA- Josh Moritz- Can Felice and Yvonne Save America?

Felice is one of the Barbers I go to at the Compo Shopping Center in Westport, CT. His heavy Italian accent does not stop him from having opinions about everything ranging from the economy to AIG. One recent Friday morning he was exasperated; all the banks were crooks, the government can't figure it out, forget about the insurance companies. He runs a barber shop, he knows about money. No credit, no credit cards, just the cash or maybe a check if he knows you. While he didn't quite come out and say it, Felice wasn't so sure that these folks are any different than a two bit criminal. His solution is pretty simple, you take money in, you take money out. No derivatives and no deviation. While most of his clientele is driving up in BEEMERS, Mercedes and even the less than rare but more than common Maserati, he is thinking about the evil eye more these days and wondering about the tips.

Yvonne is another story. A long lost Texan gal, now Westport residdent who now owns a popular coffee shop in Westport called Docs is more worried that the solutions are coming fast enough. She'll tell you she did not vote for Obama, but she likes him, she just hopes there is enough time to fix the mix. A very plain speaking woman, Yvonne is quite colorful in describing the morning traffic that used to stop in on the way to the trains station: it is way down. She can't figure out if half the town has been laid off or is going on vacation. Wish I knew. Her solution to the whole mess is to keep on making that coffee. The parking lot is not half empty at rush hour, its still half full.