GeeWhiz Jobs

I like to take apart business models to see how they work. I get a kick out of learning the vital role played by a behind-the-scenes and little-touted provider of goods or services in bringing our daily bread to the table. It’s those unglamorous, nuts-and-bolts parts of the supply chain that yield the mother lode for family-owned businesses and multinationals alike.

For instance, one of my favorite TV shows is called “How It’s Made.” It airs on the Science Channel, and each episode follows the production process for mundane, yet vital things: eyeglasses, fluorescent tubes, bandages, toilets, printed circuit boards, breakfast cereals, jeans.

Each episode shows an array of process control equipment that’s been invented and built to perform a specific function, day in and day out: formers, grippers, shapers, cutters, blowers, fillers, dyers, sorters. As I watch and study an injection molder machine’s form and function, it occurs to me that some clever Joe invented that injection molder that tints, cools, and forms 64 colors of Crayola® crayons. Some business out there right now is refining its design, registering patents, and re-inventing a faster, cheaper injection molder. Their sales and marketing team is trolling the aisles at industry trade shows, extolling their molder’s features and benefits, wooing channel partners to install it on their customers’ assembly lines, forecasting revenue and commissions and bonuses. But wait … an after-market ecosystem of suppliers and service providers orbit around that injection molder, too, while it churns out those 64 colors.

And that injection molder is but one stop along one company’s assembly line, in one city. Gee Whiz.

And so, here I initiate my newest blog category: the Gee Whiz Job.

Through periodic entries, I will enlighten readers about ways in which people and their businesses have struck the mother lode in most unexpected, yet vital ways. The masterpiece drawing that’s hanging on your fridge right now was colored by your talented and gifted toddler, and – yes – was brought to you in part by Mr. Clever Joe, inventor of that crayon injection molder.

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