Sunday, May 20, 2018

CCR 05-20-18 Roller Coaster Golf

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Roller Coaster Golf”

   It’s official.  The 50th annual Byron Nelson golf tournament attendees and golfers felt the brimstone-breath of Beelzebub at the new Dallas “links” course, Trinity “No Trees” Forest Golf Club.

   Sadly, fifty individuals suffered heat problems and had to be treated on the opening day of tournament play.  This is probably the only course record worth mentioning at this time!  

   Apparently, the individuals, affected by the heat, didn’t realize there are no trees on the Trinity “No Trees” Forest golf course.  And certainly, ticket prices didn’t include umbrellas, bottled water, or a designated shady space under the overhang of  what looked like Crenshaw’s tractor repair barn.

   For those with short memory spans, staff of the CCR noted, in the April 6, 2018, “Links Pasture Gas” report (available on the CCR blog site), that golfers and fans should expect to encounter some significantly adverse experiences if planning to attend the Byron Nelson tournament this year.  And getting to the course should be added to the list when using public transportation and shuttle services.

   Now that the Byron Nelson has completed it’s first season at Trinity “No Trees” Forest, staff of the CCR still questions the crony capitalism-inspired decision to move from the Las Colinas course in Irving.  Factors truly not related to Byron Nelson fans and golfers seemed to be in play for this disingenuous decision.  

   The following items may still require consideration by AT&T, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, and all the Dallas politicos who could spin the “greatness” of the pea patch course much like they could make chicken salad out of chicken s…..you get the drift.
  • Do some prominent members of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas own property abutting the new golf course, or in this immediate Southern Dallas area?  Hum!
  • Why does it take three modes of DART public transportation for a fan to reach the course?
  • What should one think when only six of the top fifty (that’s 12% for math deficient Aggies) PGA golfers signed up to play the Byron Nelson tournament this year?
  • If Dallas’ Jordan Spieth, a member of the club course, had previously played forty rounds prior to the tournament and ended up barely gaining a mediocre slot on to the tournament leader board, is this a golf course or an elaborate Putt Putt golf adventure?
  • Instead of fans — what few were visible — being treated to amazing golf shots from fairway roughs, unusual placements around trees, or island greens surrounded by sand traps, the main consideration for the golfers was how to properly roll the ball down the barren fairways to the green.  Rolling the Titliest, not stroking, seemed to be par for the course.
  • Speaking of the greens, there were more mounds, rolls, and speed bumps on each green than one would find on a roller coaster ride on Coney Island.
  • For comparison purposes, European link courses certainly have more appeal and golf presence than the Trinity “No Trees” Forest course does.
  • If revenue proceeds to the Salesmanship Club of Dallas recognized an increase (a good thing) over last year, what was the count for fans, passing through the gate, compared to last year?  Ticket sales numbers are not a true indication or measurement of how many individuals actually attended the event.
  • Why were there so many venues available for free tickets to the tournament?  When in Irving, the tournament days were sold out and scalpers set up booths and tents on Northgate Drive and MacArthur Boulevard to accommodate an over-abundance of fans. 
  • Why were the golfers so guarded when making comments concerning the course, how the course played, and the specific conditions of the fairways and greens?  Does the PGA fine golfers for bitching about a pea patch “links” course constructed over a landfill?
   There will be much written and said about this disingenuous move of the Byron Nelson tournament to Trinity “No Trees” Forest golf course in the future.  Hopefully, the contract to keep the tournament in Southern Dallas is short lived for true golf fans!  

   A short stay at Trinity “No Trees” Forest would be a decision worthy of recognizing that a poor, political, and impartial decision had originally been made by AT&T, the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, and Dallas politicos.

   If the tournament does move away from Trinity “No Tress” Forest golf course, SMU golfers wouldn’t have to change their schedule of practicing.  After all, this has been designated the home course for the university.  

   Perhaps, PGA golfer, Matt Kuchar, best summed up the Trinity “No Trees” Forest golf course, surrounding amenities, and fan reactions when he stated, “I like Las Colinas better.”

   Hey, Matt, staff of the CCR believes 99.0% of the fans and golfers attending the tournament might also agree.

   Those not agreeing just might be the ones who have a vested interest in development occurring, around the course area, in the very near future.


…………………………………………..Mark Holbrook



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

CCR 05-16-18 Kroger: Reality Meets Hype

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Kroger: Reality Meets Hype”©

   As Kroger Stores was recently called out in a Dallas Morning News  article (see link below) concerning their treatment and unprofessional handling of local small business vendors — especially one with M/WOB status — one has to wonder about the validity of other PR spin and fluffy rhetoric documented on the company’s web site.

   With Kroger stock prices slipping and  earnings reports not extremely favorable, Kroger apparently relied on new and untested store changes to achieve these financial potholes.  

   Staff of the CCR took a gander at some of the key hyperbola, which Kroger publicizes,  to consider how some of the current issues — as noted in the Dallas Morning News article — might have created an impact on their operations. 

   The perspective of one local small business, Linthicum Specialties, will be the focal point for this review and report.
   
Kroger(dot)Com/WeAreLocal:  As recent as September 2017, Kroger was crowing: “At Kroger, we make it a priority to source locally –- after all, it’s important to support our neighbors…”. Not only does this make good sense, but it allows local small businesses to not only supply products and services, but could assist in keeping Kroger purchasing prices lower.  Having this as a corporate goal would be financially advantageous.

Reality In the Trenches:  Without notice and with very unprofessional and verbal bullying actions, Kroger - Dallas Division booted at least three local small business vendors.  The businesses were blindsided and not formally informed as to why they were no longer considered a vendor.  

In the case of Linthicum Specialties, this ended a thirty-year relationship of supplying area Kroger stores with their floral department needs and requirements.  
(Since July, 2017, Kroger officials have refused to respond to any letters or emails concerning being reinstated, or answering why Linthicum Specialties was even dropped as a vendor.) 

Not only was Linthicum Specialties cost of supplies to Kroger floral departments low, there was no delivery or freight charges added.  Additionally, Linthicum Specialties could make next day deliveries if necessary to satisfy floral department needs.

Instead of using local vendors, Kroger instituted a process of using an out-of-state vendor in Georgia for floral department supplies.  Not only were freight charges now added for floral department shipments, but needed supplies lacked speedy delivery and availability for the stores.  Additionally, some of the supplies, once necessary and utilized by floral departments, were also curtailed.  This meant floral departments could no longer meet many customer needs…which they once provided. 

With Kroger floral departments unable to meet customer needs and desires, one should not be surprised when — what was once a considerably high profit center for Kroger stores — the floral departments suddenly became skeletons for merchandise once demanded by customers. 

This dismissal of small business vendors, of course, didn’t improve Kroger’s floral department bottom line.  And Linthicum Specialties was not allowed to assist or supply merchandise which floral departments needed, requested, and wanted.  Needless to say, even the morale of floral department personnel shrank as the floral department’s profitability waned.

   It seems apparent, Kroger floral department customers soon ‘hit the bricks instead of clicks,’ thus causing a once lofty revenue stream to grow seriously shallow.      

Kroger Diversity Supplier Program:  The Kroger program goal, as noted on their web site material, states: “The goal of Kroger’s Supplier Diversity Program is to foster the promotion, growth, and development of minority, women and other diverse owned enterprises.”

   While this is very admirable and important, the Kroger - Dallas Division apparently might not be aware of the company’s policy.  If they were, then how would they explain the handling, verbal bullying, and treatment of dismissing a M/WOB small business vendor who was an approved member of the Kroger Diversity Supplier Program? 

Reality In the Trenches: For nearly a year, Linthicum Specialties has been asking Kroger officials this same question.  To date, not one Kroger official — even those in the Supplier Diversity Program — has responded to any inquiry from Linthicum Specialties. 

Not only is Linthicum Specialties a member of the Kroger Supplier Diversity program, but is also a recognized M/WOB.  

If having stated and required qualifications are important to Kroger — to promote their all inclusive goal — then what is the rationale for dismissing a vendor who met all the requirements?  No complaints, or service issues have ever been raised — by Kroger officials or floral department personnel — during the thirty-years Linthicum Specialties was a vendor.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Floral department personnel could attest to Linthicum Specialties low prices, speedy delivery, friendly service and providing all the necessary and required supplies floral departments needed to meet customer needs.

Linthicum Specialties dedication to serving Kroger - Dallas Division stores never faltered.  And if a Diversity Supplier Program and M/WOB vendor is treated in this fashion, one should wonder how many other diverse vendor-type groups are thrown under the Kroger bus without notice, documentation, or review…especially, veterans, LGBT, etc.?
 
Kroger Supports Women’s Health:  Kroger’s support of this program recognizes “women’s health initiatives…especially breast cancer research, education and services.”  While not only promoting the program, Kroger is also very generous with giving $3 million annually to breast cancer initiatives.

   There can be no argument this program indirectly helps many individuals who may or may not even be Kroger customers.  And this is good.

Reality In the Trenches:  During a period of nearly one year, Linthicum Specialties has attempted to have Kroger officials respond to a request of informing why their vendor status was yanked and the rationale for why being a vendor cannot be restored.  No correspondence has been received from any Kroger official.  

During this time, the small business owner ,of Linthicum Specialties, who is a Kroger Diversity Supplier member and M/WOB, was undergoing chemo treatments and later surgery for breast cancer.  A real fighter, the owner still managed to keep her business operation going —even with the loss of sales to Kroger.  

As a small business owner, her fight was for better health and achieving a level/competitive playing field to conduct business with Kroger.  The personal factor was not to seek sympathy.

Of course, Kroger officials and floral department personnel were not aware of this health issue as the owner did not inform them.  The owner’s intent was to keep the focus on restoring the vendor status for her small business.

   While there are other issues which the Kroger - Dallas Division created for Linthicum Specialties, the above clearly notes Kroger officials are probably more concerned when a customer registers a complaint over wilted lettuce in a store, than responding to legitimate issues involving a thirty-year supplier to their floral departments.

   Do you think Kroger officials should review prior workable operations of satisfying customer needs (old school business practices) as opposed to chasing new “click” ideas a consultant might demonstrate on a PowerPoint presentation to corporate desk decision makers?
(Remember: Consultants are akin to Politicians in that they will tell individuals standing in front of them exactly what they want to hear.)

   When one considers the effective and profitable operations of international grocery chain ALDI and their neighborhood brother, Trader Joe’s, these businesses seem to embrace the “old school” model of serving customers and remaining profitable at the same time.

   And this gives staff of the CCR a ‘light bulb’ moment.  We’ll set up a consulting firm to coach Kroger officials on how to return to “old school” business practices which are profitable.  We’ll even do this review pro bono!  

Kroger officials only need to contact click on the web site of Dylan Westie, the new founder of  Reality Meets Hype©.  He can take time from wordsmithing CCR reports and put all his paws on all Kroger’s current business and purchasing processes to bring customers back to the stores…especially the floral departments.

   Should any dear readers of the CCR want to weigh-in with their thoughts regarding Kroger experiences, contact us.  If you really want to weigh-in heavily, contact the following Kroger officials. This information is provided to save you  Google search time:

Dana Zurcher 
President, Kroger - Dallas Division
 (502)741-9599

Rodney McMullen
Board Chairman and CEO, Kroger Stores
(513) 762-4000

   Inform your friends and associates.  The time is now to restore Irving and Dallas area Kroger stores to their previous ability to serve customers lost via the corporate bureaucracy of shrinking sales and floral department’s blooming.

   Readers might also want to register their thoughts about standing in Kroger “self check-out” lines with comatose and not digitally experienced customers scraping all the frost off Blue Bell ice cream cartons in order to have the scanning machine ring up the cost!

   The stand-in-line-scanning process is certainly detrimental to customers when ten cashier lines are vacant due to not having cashiers posted to serve customer needs.

   The more staff of the CCR considers these issues, Kroger officials should immediately contact “Reality Meets Hype” and plot a course to satisfy customer demands, needs and wants.
   Does ALDI have self-service scanners?


………………………………….Mark Holbrook 


Judy Howard, owner of Linthicum Specialties, with
stock merchandise in her truck available for florist.
(Photographer: Lawrence Jenkins)


NOTES:  
(1)  The link for the May 11, 2018, Dallas Morning News Kroger article is:

 (2)  This CCR report was distributed to the established mailing list and select media contacts.

(3)  Even after the May 11, 2018, Dallas Morning News article, no Kroger official has made any attempt to respond to Linthicum Specialties correspondence.

(4)  Full Disclosure:  Staff members of the CCR have a personal interest in the  remarkably unfair and unprofessional actions taken by Kroger officials, which began July 2017.



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First “cat kicked” in 1984       Contact: markholbrook13@yahoo.com       May 16, 2018










Friday, May 11, 2018

CCR 05-11-18 Blooming Idiots

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Blooming Idiots”

   It is refreshing and extremely helpful when someone does assist “David,” with a few literary stones, to help garner the undivided attention of a “Goliath” corporate bureaucracy — Kroger Stores, in this instance.  

   And kudos go to the DMN reporter for shedding light on Kroger’s mishandling and non-utilization of local small businesses…especially M/WOBs. 

   The following article also spotlights a certain amount of hypocrisy with Kroger’s fluffy PR rhetoric and TV commercials of working with M/WOBs and local small businesses.

    The portion of the DMN article noted below is one facet which accounts for why customers are not able to find, or utilize products and services which were once staples in the stores.  

   Do you think “old school” is better than untested “new school” when it comes to corporate merchandising/buying decisions?  It appears some Kroger corporate bureaucrats need to go back to business school!

   The portion of the DMN article, which is of personal interest to staff of the CCR, follows:

……………………………………………………………………
Dallas Morning News
05-11-18 
The Bloom Is Off

   Kroger has bragged for years about being the largest florist retailer in the U.S. Some of its stores would do weddings, and others were known for being the place to get the decked out Texas high school homecoming mums.




   “I was blindsided,” Judy Howard said about being cut off as a 30-year supplier of floral department staples such as ribbons, baskets and enclosure cards. She was also a certified supplier under the Kroger Supplier Diversity Program and has been trying to get clarity on her abrupt dismissal from local Kroger management.
   Howard has a retrofitted truck with a 16-foot bed that is her mobile showroom. “I’ve had to reinvent myself. Now I’m calling on florists from here (Irving) to Prosper.” She’s hearing from her former customers about how they can only order from a warehouse and the limited selection has made special orders impossible.
   Employee-owned DWF Dallas Wholesale Florist supplied Kroger stores with fresh cut flowers, vases, preservatives, floral wires and paints since the 1990s. It was a $60,000 a month contract and ended last year.
   “Kroger dropped us like a hot potato,” said Karla Cole, manager at DWF. “We started concentrating on other flower shops, event planners and caterers.”
   Profit margins can be good in floral, but the costs are also high because flowers are perishable and the department needs a skilled experienced person to run it well, said Bill Bishop, co-founder of consulting firm Brick Meets Click.
   Kroger is scrutinizing costs of every department including floral, Bishop said, “They may shrink the size or services, but at the end of the day, floral will be there because the store needs multiple reasons to get us there.”
   There are special occasions, he said, like Mother’s Day, when customers can count on the supermarket being a one-stop shop for a card, flowers, wine and chocolates.

   The link to the complete Kroger article is:

…………………………………………………………………


   So, if you wonder what happened when you attempted to place an order at a Kroger store for a special event, wedding, or other family occasion and was told the store could no longer provide those services, don’t blame the floral department personnel.  They had no say in the decision making process.

   Those Kroger decisions were made by corporate bureaucrats who hardly have a clue as to what is actually happening in the floral department trenches.  And those desk decisions were made to the detriment of customers with long-standing loyalty to Kroger Stores.  

   Desk decisions were also made for fancy PowerPoint presentations which reflected numbers that conceivably may not ever be attained.  Desk decisions were made to please other corporate bureaucrats and potential investors.

   Desk decisions so often prove to be unprofitable and create more process issues and losses than anticipated…all to the detriment of customers. 

   Perhaps, Kroger corporate bureaucrats will one day venture into the trenches to talk, listen and actually consider the advice of those who have daily contact with customers.  After all, these “trench” workers know more about what is going on in a Kroger floral department store than some desk decision maker in Coppell, or Ohio.

Kroger decision makers should remember just one thing: It is the customer who will make Kroger’s bottom line flourish…not an idiotic desk decision made by some corporate bureaucrat.


…………………………………..Mark Holbrook




Saturday, April 21, 2018

CCR 04-21-18 Horses and Streams

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

“Horses and Streams”


   What appears to be happening in ‘beautiful downtown Irving,’ since the horrendous reign of ex-mayor BVD ended, is a new era of political peace, harmony, and actual accomplishment of doing what is best for all citizens and the city.

   Why, there is even a renewed sense of prosperity in the city as the Entertainment Center (which ex-mayor BVD fought against) gathers tremendous amounts of positive publicity around the metropolitan area.  The Toyota Music Factory, Alamo Drafthouse, and restaurants abundant are at the center of being noted and featured.  And this is undeniably a long overdue drawing card to the city. 
   (Also overdue would be kudos for the city’s ICVB.  This is warranted for all the time, effort, and promotion they generated to make this entertainment venue a success.) 

   So, what’s next?  How do denizens of ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ keep this economic and politically friction-free cycle growing in the upcoming days?

   The staff of the CCR is glad you asked this question.  The answer is rather simple…be sure to vote in the upcoming city council election. 

   Yes, ballot breath, there is an election on the horizon, and now is the time to ensure Irving stays on a positive course.  And this course is closely akin to the old adage of “don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.”

Early Voting:   April 23rd to May 1st
Election Day:   May 5th 

   The time to keep riding those steeds, which have or can prove to be the best for the city, is crucial.  Irving is too grand a city to return to self-aggrandizing politics which stymied progress and growth during the previous administration.  

   With this in mind, staff of the CCR outlines the most probable candidate to cast your ballot when going to the polls.

City Council
   While there are three positions open this election season, only one place has a contested race.  Here is the complete layout.

Place 4: Phil Riddle (I)  No opposition
     Place 8:  David Palmer (I)  No opposition

Place 6 
 Al Zapanta
Shayan Elahi
   
   Without a doubt, the race for Place 6 is an easy call to make! 

   Al Zapanta has lived in the city and district (12-years) much longer than his opponent (3-years).  Mr. Zapanta has worked (running his business) in the city, and has been actively involved in community organizations much longer than his opponent.  Mr. Zapanta does not have any hidden agendas.  Mr. Zapanta is a decorated Army (Retired General) Ranger hero.  Mr. Zapanta served on the city’s Planning and Zoning commission, so he knows how to approve and ensure residents that their property values are being protected.  Mr. Zapanta’s background of service and activities to our country and community reflect the leadership skills necessary to carry Irving forward.

   Irving residents in Place 6 should be advised, encouraged, and asked to make every effort to turn out the vote and elect Al Zapanta.  
   (You must live in Place 6 to vote, but you can encourage, pester, and harass all your friends and associates, of the district, to support Mr. Zapanta.)  

   The city needs and requires good, honest and capable leadership to ensure progress is maintained and residents have a listening voice on the city council who can attend to their needs.

   Do your part to ensure this all happens:  Vote: Al Zapanta in Place 6.

   As a reminder, if things don’t go right in the city — according to your satisfaction — complaining is not an option…if you haven’t voted.  This is the only way to ensure your voice has been heard and registered with those elected to serve you.

   Don’t get all wet this election.  Stay on the horse of progress as it crosses the city’s stream of economic prosperity and accountability.


…………………………………………………Mark Holbrook