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While on a trip this summer I was listening to the radio and heard a feature story about a new firefighting plane. It seems a company in California has outfitted, and got FAA approval, for a 747 to carry and disburse fire retardant. And not just drop it but spray it so it doesn’t destroy trees, equipment, or people.

Only one hitch, the US Forest Service won’t let them use the 747s (to help fight fires). In an interview, the owner of the firm couldn’t understand why. He also said the Forest Service put out an RFP for new planes and put in specific size criteria so this firm couldn’t bid.

Last Friday at my Rotary meeting our speaker talked about teamwork, turf battles, and similar. It sure appears this is a good-sized turf battle (and I know there’s two sides to every story). It’s why there’s so many companies able to thrive because they know how to get people to work better together.

I see it not just between employees but between owners and employees. The all-controlling owner, i.e. the control-freak, micro-manager, creates a culture where people stay simply because they don’t want to go through the hassle of a job search (and because the devil you know may be better than devil you don’t know).

It’s why when someone buys a business they are often the, “Breath of fresh air” the company needs. And since at least half of the buyers I meet say they’re good at team building, it’s a great way to get some instant improvement.

The lesson for business owners is to not wait for a buyer but to create your own breath of fresh air, increase productivity, and see the value increase also.

“A jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one.” Sam Rayburn

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