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Sticks matter

Publisher Letter

This winter, my 15-year-old son will be a second-year bantam hockey player—which will be faster, more physical, and more challenging than ever before. Determined to be the best he can be, this summer, in addition to just being a kid and enjoying the break from school, he is working on strength training and conditioning as well as shooting and skating. The shooting training, which is with a former NHL team mate of Wayne Gretzky, began with a stick fitting and off-ice training. Surprisingly, the stick fitting alone was a literal game-changer.

Typically, when we buy new a hockey stick, we buy one that “feels” right in the store. As we learned during the first lesson, the not-inexpensive stick he’d been using was pretty much completely wrong for his style of play. Only a small area of the stick actually touched the ice—making it that much tougher to pass, shoot, and score. Now, armed with a stick that works with him, instead of against him, practicing is no longer a chore. And our three-stall garage now has one stall set up as an active hockey practice area.

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As important as it is for an athlete to have the right tools, it’s that much more important that our teams aren’t held back by their tools. Especially given the scarcity of labor, and the challenge of attracting and retaining good people, does it make sense for members of our team to “get by” with sub-standard tools? Whether it’s something as simple as updating office chairs and desks (even for people who office from home) or ensuring that their technology tools aren’t holding them back, this is something simple that sends a powerful message. Plus, it shows our people that we’re invested in their happiness and success. And that’s no small thing.

Since attracting, hiring, and retaining good people is one of the top challenges facing our companies, making sure our team members have the right tools is a great place to start. It’s as easy as asking if they need anything to do their job better. Then, instead of insisting that whatever they have is good enough or buying them the very cheapest replacement, let them choose their new computer, or new phone, or desk. If they suggest sizable investments (new trucks, software, warehouse racking, etc.), take the suggestion seriously, and investigate to see if it makes sense. That’s what happened at LBM Journal, and we just completed a major software transition—prompted by a team member’s suggestion—which is already paying dividends.

With inflation and mortgage rates on the rise, there’s no question that our business cycle is slowing down. That is beyond our control. How we respond to the market realities is 100% within our control. The reality is that good people are tough to find, so let’s make sure we’ve taken care of our existing team members before working to attract others.

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Here’s to working together to control what we can control, and to make sure we, our team members, and our companies are the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

— Rick Schumacher
Executive Editor & Publisher

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