Management Retail Service

People and process: My father. Myself. My son

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People and process: My father. Myself. My son

I’ve written more than 50 articles for Modern Tire Dealer. What an experience it’s been working with the team at MTD and receiving many encouraging notes and emails from the industry.

Counter Intelligence is more than a name for a monthly column; counter intelligence is professionalism demonstrated daily at the retail point of sale. It’s professionalism that benefits the entire community, from vendors to consumers and everybody in between. It’s taking responsibility for meeting the needs of the driving public and the profitable, professional delivery of quality products and services.

The more I thought about it, I recognized that counter intelligence started for me a long time ago. The longer I’m in and around business, the more I see how my father influenced my thinking.

My father, Harvey Bennett Williams, used to say, “It’s all about people and process.” My dad had a successful 42-year career at General Motors, from an assembly line worker to plant manager. My dad was a teacher/mentor by nature and a leader/manager by profession.

The process

One of my early childhood memories was my dad teaching me about process. One Saturday morning when I was seven or eight years old, he asked me to empty out the trash cans from the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms. I ran upstairs and grabbed a trash can and took it downstairs and emptied it. As I repeated the process, my dad laughed and said, “Work smarter, not harder. Empty all the trash cans into one trash can, and quit running up and down the stairs. Save steps.” Even at a young age, it instantly made sense to me. I was actually a little embarrassed.

My dad nicknamed me “Jake.” He used to take me with him whenever he went to the hardware store. He would yell, “Jake, let’s go.”

I watched my dad interact with people, and I remember my dad laughing a lot. He loved to banter back and forth. He loved to engage with people. After we had purchased what we needed, we would return home and work together on various projects. He taught me how to paint, how to blend the brush strokes, how to use a hammer (both ends, driving nails and pulling nails). When I was eight, my dad taught me how to mow the grass with a gasoline-powered reel mower. He paid me $1 every week for mowing both the front and back yards.

In the humid, summer Delaware weather, I watched my dad work hard in the yard until the job was done, until past sunset. He never complained; he just worked. I caught something about work while watching my dad, work is a good thing and there is a sense of personal self-satisfaction that accompanies a job or project planned and completed. At a young age, I learned how to very carefully swing an axe, chop the roots of an overgrown bush, and to understand the feel of a blister.

My dad taught me how to drink out of a Coke bottle, how to hand wash a car, how to field a ground ball and throw a football. It’s amazing how much you can learn from someone when you are opened to their teaching by their genuine concern. My dad knew how to get things done and done correctly. My brother, Dean, commented to me that learning from our dad’s examples was inescapable. His examples are forever part of our DNA.

People and process

Camaraderie is established when a genuine concern for people and process is put in place as part of organizational DNA. Because people change and automobiles change, things are always in a process. A process is moving forward requiring many changes.

A successful retail automotive location must value people and process if it is to be sustainable. Vendors, employees, management, customers, and the entire community are watching the people and process at your location(s).

This genuine regard for people and process aided my father in his career and has, to date, served me well. It’s especially rewarding to watch my son, Ryan, interact in our industry with genuine concern for people and process. Each generation, the silent generation, the Baby Boomers, and my son, a Millennial, exhibits its own flare for people and process. But looking back, living through and looking forward, I see that true genuine concern for both people and process yields healthy growth and sustainability.

All about winning

It’s been my pleasure writing about counter intelligence. It’s something that was instilled in me a long time ago, and I believe deeply in the benefits brought by people and process. It’s been said, “Winners win.” I’d like to add, “Winners help others win,” and “Winning is when everybody wins.” Pass it on!   ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at

See more of Wayne Williams' columns here:

Managing customer expectations

It's never just about price

Quoting prices is a delicate balancing act

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