The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart


Fast Company Magazine Article

Here's an interesting article about the company that makes Snapper lawnmowers. They decided that selling their American-made lawnmowers at Wal-Mart was NOT compatible with their company's strategy or their manufacturing strategy.

From the article:

If you know nothing about maintaining a mower, Wal-Mart has helped make that ignorance irrelevant: At even $138, the lawn mowers at Wal-Mart are cheap enough to be disposable. Use one for a season, and if you can't start it the next spring (Wal-Mart won't help you out with that), put it at the curb and buy another one. That kind of pricing changes not just the economics at the low end of the lawn-mower market, it changes expectations of customers throughout the market. Why would you buy a walk-behind mower from Snapper that costs $519? What could it possibly have to justify spending $300 or $400 more?

That's the question that motivated Jim Wier to stop doing business with Wal-Mart. Wier is too judicious to describe it this way, but he looked into a future of supplying lawn mowers and snow blowers to Wal-Mart and saw a whirlpool of lower prices, collapsing profitability, offshore manufacturing, and the gradual but irresistible corrosion of the very qualities for which Snapper was known. Jim Wier looked into the future and saw a death spiral.

I wish them luck. I wish I had bought a Snapper instead of another brand (it wasn't a Wal-Mart cheapie). I admire and try to support companies like these, along with New Balance (I do wear their shoes) and Oreck Vacuums that value their role in creating jobs here in the U.S., they've resisted the China manufacturing wave, whether it was through lean methods or sheer will.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Chet Frame says

    Just a note, I noticed last week that Loews is moving to John Deere. I wonder if Home Depot is staying with Deere or changing brands as well. Deere has been very aggressive in the marketplace for several years. I will have to find out what happened to Cub Cadet to get the rest of the story.

  2. […] to a blog reader, Dan, for pointing this article out to me. Also have to mention John and Kevin, who blogged about it […]

  3. […] isn’t lean because they are famous for pushing suppliers to China, except the one that famously said “no” (and another link to Kevin). Dell has also done the same thing over time — I know many […]

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