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Craig Sundstrom

CFO, Weisner Steel
  • Posted on: 07/30/2021

    Will throwing money at drivers solve the trucker shortage problem?

    Money never hurts -- the recipient that is -- but my thought is the issue with trucking is more related to the arduous nature of the job itself: long hours, isolation, ever-increasing regulations and the physical effort to (help) load/unload -- yes, they DO that, too (and I think that's always going to perpetuate the gender imbalance). The comment: "headlines of autonomous driving’s potential may have scared off young applicants" I'm not sure whether to laugh at the irony or groan. Unfortunately, I don't really see any "solution(s)": despite a fondness for the question, sometimes the answer is there aren't any.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    Thanks Bob, but sadly it's a "non-position" really: getting the info right -- or at least not as wrong -- is the easy part. Translating that knowledge into a policy everyone can be on board with eludes me.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    A couple of small points (as I carefully avoid the minefield of actually taking a position): "Children...are touching everything" Unappealing as this might be, it was long ago established that surface-to-person transmission is minimal, so this a red herring. "5,914 breakthrough cases" ... out of ~150M vaccinated (emphasis mine) Taken together, it's clear to me we're still plagued by a lack of understanding of basic factual issues ... never mind actually being able to reach a consensus on what are acceptable tradeoffs. Which isn't surprising, as people are poor at recognizing risk levels, and actually dealing with them is all too often a battle between "zero tolerance" zealots and people who readily drive into trees.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    What can rival retailers learn from Walmart’s free college degree program?

    There's a large and rather atypical split in the poll results today, and I suspect it's due to people looking at this in a general, philosophical sort of way ("education is always good") vs. the specific program details (and probably some stereotyping of the type of people Walmart employs). At first glance it's impressive: a billion dollars (exclamation marks optional); but match that against > one million employees, and the per employee amount looks much less impressive. Of course not every employee will make use of this ... which really brings us to the main question: how much demand for this is there? As for other companies matching this, I think the same logic applies: while few can develop customized programs with colleges, many can offer ~$700 per head in assistance ... or more.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Has RFID at retail finally passed the long-awaited tipping point?

    It won't be exciting to talk about, but maybe there isn't going (ever) be a "tipping point"... just a gradual (and largely unnoticed) adoption, until something better comes along. Which, honestly, sounds exactly like what has been happening.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Weather forecast predicts retailers will face more record-setting heat waves and storms

    "Retailers have begun to act with varying degrees of urgency in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the environmental impact of their operations, as well as that of suppliers." Right, and when they have a choice of cutting product costs by offshoring to some country with few labor laws, and even fewer environmental regs -- not to mention the fuel burned by transporting across the globe -- they're going to.... Take out an ad -- or maybe these days create a TikTok video -- announcing how concerned they are, donate a fraction of 1% of profits to some do-gooder group and write about it glowingly in their annual report. Over-simplified and (more than) a bit cynical? No doubt. But I don't have any illusions about where a 5-100 year problem lies on most corporate to-do lists. And to be fair, it's darn hard to say what they "should" be doing.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    McDonald’s reorg focuses on the fast feeder’s customers

    "Fast feeder"? Ugh: I don't think I've ever seen such an unappealing description of Mickey D's. As for said chain: it's a mature business. It's main issues are competitors who offer better quality -- albeit more expensive -- options and also day-to-day issues like cleanliness and (in some locations) loitering. I don't disapprove of the reorg, but seriously doubt it's going to dramatically shift their fortunes.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will the Delta variant keep shoppers and unvaccinated workers at home?

    The "bump" is almost certain; the real question is "how big will it be?" And what can retailers do about it? Unfortunately, while I'd like to say having been thru this we're now prepared, I don't think that's true ... or even possible: what we learned is if your business is suddenly precluded from its normal way of operating, your options are limited; and they're still limited. Of course there are things that can be done: stock up on take-out bags and upgrade your online functionality ... just in case. But if you're a bar, stylist or theater and you have to shut down again, really what can you do?
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Has Ben & Jerry’s gone too far with its stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    I will confess I don't understand the logic here: you're opposed to occupation so you (effectively) punish the very people you're claiming solidarity with by not selling to them? But even impeccably logical positions are a quagmire: I'm not a fan of corporate activism in general, and nothing here makes me rethink that position.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Macy’s should have stayed local

    Ah yes, the Field's renaming ... the third rail of retail consolidation. Emotionally, I think all of us are probably on the same page: terrible, terrible mistake. Intellectually though, the picture is more complicated, as there were several possibilities. It could have done as May -- and Federated itself -- had done, keeping the names as a facade while standardizing and consolidating everything else; it could have had several semi-autonomous divisions, just as Bloomingdales is run. Or it could do what it did. No one -- me included -- can say definitively which of these would have been the best approach, and many of the problems Macy's is facing can be traced to clumsy execution, rather than inherently bad ideas. Indeed many would argue the problem is the department store model itself. The real question now is: try to rewrite history or stay the course? ... whatever that is.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    How will COVID-19 shape future consumers?

    The Great Depression lasted (more than) a decade, fundamentally impacting every level of society, the economy and government. The pandemic is a year-and-a-half (though admittedly it isn't over yet). I won't say it's an insult to our grandparents' hardships to compare the two, but I think the difference in scale is crucial.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    How will COVID-19 shape future consumers?

    Sorry, but I don't buy any of this: how many of us have any but trace memories of our childhood? (The ones most likely to be affected are recent HS or college grads who had their senior years and transition into adulthood interrupted, but this is a relatively small group). There's a major caveat to my opinion, of course: life has to return to "normal" soon; if we have a resurgence -- not just a Delta, but a Gamma, Rho ... all the way down to Omega -- the impact will grow, on everyone exponentially.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    Will an enhanced rewards program turn Gap’s customers into ‘lifelong loyalists’?

    I don't think anyone dislikes "rewards" programs, but nor do I think customers seem to have the fetish for them that company marketing departments do: get something back ... fine; just keep it simple. The problem comes when these become a substitute rather than a companion to being a place people want to buy from. Many feel GAP has long been challenged on that front, and while this program doesn't preclude addressing that issue, it shouldn't be allowed to become a distraction.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Should retailers reconsider bringing their HQ staff back to work?

    Curiously no one here seems to have mentioned asking employees (what they think should be done). It's not a cure-all -- there's no reason to expect unanimity in the responses -- but it's hard to imagine a company implementing so important a policy, with so little input from the people most affected by it.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2021

    Have indie bookstores found answers to counter Amazon?

    It's an "either/or" because of how the question was phrased (market share always adds up to 100%). But you're right: if a store can escape -- i.e. broaden -- its narrowly defined category, go from being (just) a bookstore to a "knowledge store" or "literature store" or whatever, it may have found an out.
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