There is a book out by John McCain along with Mark Salter entitled “Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them,” which relates inspirational stories about people in different walks of life who made tough decisions in order to achieve success. One of the more interesting chapters is about businessman Marshall Field who developed innovative ideas and, through hard work as well, established his own department store, which to this day is still in business.
Working for a long-established and most successful greeting cards company, The Gallery Collection, I found quite a few similarities between Field’s business practices and the one’s used by our longtime owner, Arnold S. For instance, the book talks about how Field gave wide responsibilities to his customer service employees to make decisions normally made by supervisors or top executives. In our company, our employees also have the freedom to decide on account credits or whether a customer deserves a new order of greeting cards free of charge.
Field also felt that practicing conservative techniques – taking the time before deciding if an idea will be successful before discounting it – was sound for business. The Gallery Collection, having already established a successful line of all occasion cards decades before, spent quite a few years deciding whether to enter the business Christmas cards arena. Ultimately, the Christmas cards sales have exceeded all expectations and have become a major part of the company’s success story.
To promote employee loyalty, Field made it his credo to treat his employees with courtesy and respect at all times. Our owner and CEO, Mr. S, has done the same, which is one reason why so many employees are still with the company after 20 and 30 years of employment.
This particular chapter in McCain’s book illustrates only some of the attributes Marshall Field used to become the successful owner of the “largest department store in the world,” and which other businesspeople can subscribe to in order to become successful as well.