A cobbler should stick to his last! But why?


Last week I received a press release from a company engaged in the development and production of earth-moving systems, machines and equipment. At first I made nothing of it. It simply announced that it was founding a service subsidiary. On closer examination, it became apparent that this subsidiary would support customers and tradesmen with banking communications and the organisation of their commercial business.

From glue maker to banking adviser?

Since its foundation in 1911, this company has gone from being a regional glue maker to becoming a global one-stop-shop supplier of flooring systems. With the establishment of the new subsidiary, the company is now going one step further. In the press release, the Chairman of the Board of Management explains: “We are a partner to the trades sector that, apart from first-class products, also offers the best possible consulting services on the building site. The next logical step for us is to deliver this strength of ours even further.” From now on, therefore, it will be offering support for commercial and business-specific issues. This has nothing at all to do with the company's previous core competency, in my book, and yet it might still prove successful if the right, trained employees were engaged in this new field of activity.

From paint maker to painter?

I was at a conference in Asia recently and got talking to an employee of a major paint maker. He told me that his company now offers the end customer a direct service. If you were that customer, dear reader, and wanted to have your living room repainted, you could go directly to that paint maker and it would take care of everything: move the furniture, put down the cover sheets, apply the masking tape, do the painting and then put everything back in its place afterwards. Job done – everything from a single source. But where does it leave self-employed painters? For the paint maker, it’s a great way to convince the end customer of the excellent quality of the paint without running the risk that faulty application has made the performance of the product worse than it actually is.

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From paint maker to tour operator?

A German coatings manufacturer of architectural paints and complete external thermal insulation composite systems, among others, offers fee-based fact-finding trips for his clients (architects, planners, housing provision managers and executives in the trades sector) as part of a training course that links urban and architectural topics with questions about materials, colours and surfaces. Its press release states: “In our search for the art of construction, the 2017 tours will take us from the streets of Manhattan between Sugar Hill and Ground Zero to the “Tiger City” of Oslo (check out the sculptures in front of the city hall and the train station!) and its Norwegian Opera House designed by Snøhetta.”

All three of these examples have shocked me somehow. Even though I’ve yet to come across a similar example from the field of raw materials suppliers, is it conceivable that a supplier might offer a service that would make paint makers superfluous?

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