Monthly Archives: June 2007

China Recalls… Conspiracy or Conciousness?

Toy trains covered in lead based paint. Tires missing important radial gum safety precautions. Are these really some sort of elaborate conspiracy to put stress on China in times of abrasive trade with the US? Or simply a case of American QC keeping better track of what’s coming from China. In a recent nytimes article I just read, Chinese seafood has also been banned.

While working in commodities plastics for a number of years, I ordered a lot of product from Thailand and China. My Asian partners warned me to be very careful with Chinese goods, indicating the sigma of Chinese qc was very large—Especially in subsequent shipments after the first 2 or 3 orders. Of course I also ran into some significant problems with Thai materials suggesting that China is not alone in its problems.

I think anyone who has traded from overseas would agree that monitoring product quality can be very difficult. (Anyone who is seriously considering starting some sort of import business from China or any part of the world for that matter needs to pay special attention to QC–and even include frequent QC confirmation trips in their budget). Chinese, Thai or otherwise, it requires management and exercised controls. While there very likely could be a hint of bias against the steady trade giant, I won’t deny that claiming some shipments or recalling the items is a necessary step to improving the products from China… It will also lead to higher prices and more fierce competition among other developed nations…

Blog Literate… A must for aspiring entrepreneurs…

Although I seriously considered Information Systems as a major in college, I am far from a programming or network engineer. And while programming or sorting through lines of code is absolutely not something I enjoy doing, every now and again I find myself trying to tweak my various websites to make them work better.

Blogging is important for entrepreneurs and business leaders. It provides a platform for an extended portfolio, and perhaps even more importantly offers a chance to participate in an aspect of our modern culture which is quickly filling the anals of internet content.

It’s not always a peaceful process unfortunately.

I just changed the permalink format on this page to assist in more key-word relavent searching, but it unfortunately erased all of my 301 redirects and everything else in my .htaccess file. Yeah. Frustrating. So I’ll dig it out and fix my newly created problem as soon as I get the chance.

It needs fixed. It’s a good thing to learn. Ahhh yes… The wonderful steep grade of more learning curves :)

Murdoch and China News…

I have always been fascinated by news and mass communication agencies. I’ve felt that if I were to try to develop a media company that the news, or a book store, (newspaper distribution) might be an angle to get in.

I read an article in the New York Times today that talked about how media giant Rupert Murdoch had been working for years to get into China and it finally looked like he was making headway.

The article makes brief mention about how much schmoozing needed to take place for Murdoch to even begin making headway in China. The brief mention of his Mainland China wife leads to even bigger allusions to the steps taken behind the scenes to make things happen in the Middle Kingdom.

Rupert Murdoch has built such an incredible media enterprise. (Here’s a brief summary to give more background to the Murdoch Family History. He’s really beat the odds to get as far as he has and I wouldn’t at all put it past him that he’ll be able to take it another step further… Even all the way to the Middle Kingdom.

Clean Water–Profitable Technology

I remember a discussion I had with a friend a while ago where he was convinced that if he was ever going to start a business, or invest in a commodity, he would invest in water. “It’s the biggest thing next to energy!” He cheered.

About two weeks ago I had an interesting meeting with a gentlemen by the name of Hugh Bradley. We had a number of telephone conversations and he told me about the interesting technology he had developed for water-softening / water-purification. It is a powerful mono-pole ceramic magnet that filters water with astonishing efficiency. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that is manufactured in Payson, Utah. The names of the contracts Hugh professed were very significant, and the technology he touted was very interesting. His product is marketed and distributed through an independent contractor network.

It is a new product line and I couldn’t find anything about his company online. He prefers to keep it that way, as a product which he believes will absolutely sell itself.

I personally could not help him distribute his product, not only for time constraints, but also because I felt that as a business investment his proposal was too much emotionally/religiously based. It was fascinating conversation, none-the-less, and I would encourage anyone to look up Hugh Bradley and his Bioengineering Solutions for water purification to learn more about his opportunity.

My family has magnets and I also spoke with another mentor who runs magnets on a number of different properties. Magnets are great, but they do lose power over time. There are also a number of restrictions with the type of pipe on which you can place them. I would definitely look into it first the company and technology and reviews before either buying or selling magnets for water softening.

Water purification however is an incredibly fascinating and lucrative industry, especially in areas where water is a scarce resource. Magnets, chemical or mechanical each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Checkout the website for this arizona water softener company. This company offers a salt-free solution that still provides the benefits of softwater system. Here’s a list of the benefits they offer with their water softener installation in Arizona. If you are planning on going with a mechanical system rather than a magentic system, I have heard they are reliable. Honestly though, I don’t know much more than that. In any case, you don’t need to take my word for it, but if you are around the Pheonix or Arizona area you could call the owners of the company and they’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Good Luck!

Mormons and Business… An Arrington Perspective for Development?

Utah is popular for a number of different things: The Utah Jazz, (the almost-made-it team of the NBA), The hosting of the Winter Olympics,Skiing, astronomic bankruptcy and of course, Mormons.

Now whether you are starting a business or keeping one running in Utah, it can be helpful to remember the depth of the culture you are dealing with.

Although Utah’s economy is now very strong, it has certainly not always been the case and actually has gone through a number of very interesting evolutions to become what it is today. Moreover it serves as a model that that can demonstrate the building of an impoverished economy.

In a book written by David Arrington, entitled, The Great Basin Kingdom, the economic history of early mormon settlers is reviewed. Faiths or bias aside it is an extremely interesting, (although very dense) read.

Below is a paper I once wrote as a review of this book. Feel free to skim it or read it in depth.

Great Basin Kingdom
An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints
By Leonard J. Arrington

The factors of cultural and social development are among some of the more complicated and controversial topics found in present day sociology and economics. Although when discussing social and economic development our minds may instantly turn to Africa, South America or East Asia, we often overlook the incredible, “Mormon Miracle” which took place right, (and arguably is still taking place), right here in the Great Basin Valley. The development of formidable deserts among a destitute people could be considered one of the greatest development stories of all times.

In the book, Great Basin Kingdom, Leonard J. Arrington explores the development of the Great Basin Valley from 1830 – 1900. By reviewing the religious, social, political and environmental factors of the day, Arrington identifies what he feels are the key principles to the success of the Mormon Pioneers. Quite different from the general growth found in the Harrod Domar model discussed in class, it is clear to see that although increased investment and capital definitely play a role in the development of an economy, their role is only secondary to the great importance of the elusive passion and desire which fuel success: more along the lines of the “mo-jo” or Total Factor Productivity as identified by my economics professor, Professor Frank McIntyre.

The Mormon perspective the Kingdom of God was spiritual and literal. Indeed Arrington identified that Mormons saw the spiritual and temporal as being a nearly inseparable distinction. The Kingdom of God was to be resurrected on the Earth and it would need the hearts, mind and logistical infrastructure to support it.

Incentives of The Kingdom. Economics is based on the trade off of incentives and the Mormon theology, though peculiar, was no exception. Mormon theology was deeply engrained with the concept of unity and mutual wealth. To be saved and gain eternal happiness, was only possible through service and selfless development of ones families and other brethren. By stressing the long term, indeed post life perspective, the incentive of eternal happiness was extremely great and strong enough to endure the hardships of today for something greater in the next life.

Economic Programs of The Kingdom. A considerable amount of revelation received through Joseph Smith and Brigham young had directly to do with the economic development and programs of the saints. These were originally established to encourage self-dependence, equality and prosperity among Mormon believers.

From an economic standpoint, the different institutions and programs could be considered savings or investment and institutions for stability and distribution of capital. Although not all of these programs could be considered successful, it can be seen and inferred by the large number of them that the development of the Great Basin Area was a dynamic process that ran with those things that worked and if something failed they quickly adapted to revise or throw it out. A few of the different programs and institutions integral to the economic logistics of The Kingdom include the following:
• The Law of Consecration/ United Order: All things are the Lord’s and were consecrated to the building up of his Kingdom.
• The Law of Tithing: One Tenth of all the “increase” received by believers was to be donated back to the Church for the building up of the kingdom. This was done “in kind”, manual labor or by cash. (p. 18, 138)
• The United Order of Enoch: One of several variations of the United Order that encouraged trade and industrial development among members but condemned trade and development with non-members. (p. 321-322)
• Perpetual Emigration Fund: A Fund developed for the transportation of immigrant members to join with the saints. Expenses were expected to be paid back when the newly arrived saints could repay. (p. 77-79)
• Public Works: A program set up to develop the city and give work to the huge influx of migrant members. (p. 154-155)
• The School of The Prophets: An education program and school established for members of the priesthood to be trained and work together. (p. 245, 251)
• The Council of Fifty: An institution influential of members and nonmembers that worked together to shape policy and petitions for the development of the church. It was a predecessor to the school of the prophets. (p. 31, 245)
• Development and Settlement Programs: Saints were called on missions to develop different geographical areas and industries. Primarily in the agricultural sector although it did increase to include other avenues.
• The Relief Society: An institution to organize the labor and skills of women. This Society provided a system of support for needy members as well as a means to develop industry especially in silk and textiles. (p. 31, 254)
• A Deseret Banking and Fiscal Policy: Promissory notes, coins, tithing notes and in kind trade credit were among the different policies instituted among members to establish a self-sufficient economy. (191-192)
• Church Bonds and Quasi-Business Ventures: The Church as an extensive trust was able to fund a number of different business ventures and establish and sell church bonds for funding of those industrial and agricultural undertakings.

Although the church had a number of different effective programs for capital, investment and institutional guarantees, there were a number of different factors that could not be controlled. These external factors threatened and hurt the development of church programs thus preventing them from being successful in the economic growth and stability.

Environmental threats. The Great Basin Area was a very harsh and undeveloped region. Terrible droughts and location near cricket breeding grounds made agricultural developments very difficult. Many important crop harvests were nearly obliterated due to these harsh conditions. (p. 49-50, 151-156) Powerful floods and other extreme climate conditions made many mining and horticultural undertakings difficult as well

Social threats. Angry non-mormons would try to undo what they could of the Mormon Kingdom by introducing different commercial or entertainment aspects into The Kingdom. Many people were confident that the introduction of the Railroad through Utah would actually end up flooding the Mormon Kingdom with so much outside influence that the Mormon incentives for unity, hard work and sacrifice would dissolve. In addition to the growing number of unhappy capitalists who could not compete with the growing monopoly of the Church, there was a great anti-polygamy sentiment that was growing among the neighbors in the territory and created powerful incentive for anti-Mormons to band together to eliminate the Mormon question.

Political threats. The Utah war definitely raised people’s awareness of the Mormons and just how far they were willing to go to defend their beliefs. A number of different political policies were put into play to address what was perceived as the growing Mormon threat: (p. 349-350)
• The Wade Bill
• The Cullom Bill
• The Ashley Bill
• The Poland Act
• The Edmunds Tucker Act

The final and most deadly act, the Edmunds Tucker Act, essentially gave the United States power to dismantle the expressed financial and some religious, (cohabitional) institutions that were sanctioned by the church. Cash, credit and capital were ravaged by the church and many leaders went to prison or hiding during this political pressure.

Through the development of The Kingdom, The Church had failed in many different ventures and policies, only to adapt and develop stronger or more appropriate policies. The bounce back from the set backs of the Edmunds Tucker act and subsequent hardships were no exception to this characteristic.

Religious policies were changed to no longer sanction polygamy, thus alleviating a large amount of the social and political pressure on their organization. Without the existing trusts and financial protection of the church, members were encouraged to learn and work together with “gentiles” in different educational, political and business ventures. Many business ventures were sold off or dissolved and energies and stress on the literal logistics and building of The Kingdom were transferred to more spiritual and doctrinal unity and realization.

Although a completely different development than other parts of the territory up until that point, (meaning not a free market or capitalistic development), Utah did make the transition, (slowly but surely) similarly to that of its western neighbors.

Dissolved of much of its financial interests, The Church still remained a financial powerhouse and out of debt since 1900, growing to become one of the largest private supporters of social relief, humanitarian relief and welfare training in the world today.

There is no question that the development of The Great Basin is one of the more significant success stories in American History; but why? What is it that made it so successful? By exploring a few of the different development models we have discussed in class, we can attempt identify the unique variable to this success.

Harrod Domar: In the terms of building The Kingdom, there are number of different fallacies in trying to apply this model. This model has no diminishing returns, and gives a tremendous amount of weight to the growth population and depreciation. There are only so many saints that can be working or on involved in one or more projects at one time. Even though there was a pretty constant flow of saints and capital investment, there was not an equal enough distribution for constant return to scale. Also the population growth rates in the Mormon community was extremely high and the depreciation rates were also extremely high, (when taking famine and things into consideration), and yet the growth rates for The Kingdom certainly did not respond according to the Harrod Domar model.

Solow: Although this model does take into consideration diminishing returns, there are still some fallacies in the response of The Kingdom economy to this model. In the long run, the growth rates of an economy based on the Solow model are zero, and yet clearly the economy responded with even more endogenous variables and even with basic agricultural technologies Mormons were continuing to increase their settlements and standards of living. In addition, this model does not recognize the importance of the level of capabilities of the population and labor.

Human Capital: Investment in human capital was undoubtedly important for Mormons and the development of The Kingdom. Various forms of training through the Relief Society, the Public Works projects, The School of the Prophets and more, increased the skills and abilities of Kingdom Members. Unfortunately, this model does not necessarily identify what it was that held the society together during all of the environmental, social and political conflicts of the time.

Total Factor Productivity (TFP): Initially introduced as a measure of technical progress, TFP could in a sense, be considered as the explainable variable for the unexplainable success or failure of a given model. This “technical progress” could as easily be substituted for progress in “ideology”, “gumption” or “mo-jo”, as one of my college economics professors once referred to it. It is this variable which, in the face of destructive environments, oppressive external forces, failed institutions, high growth rates and gross depreciation, still allowed the development of the Great Basin Kingdom to realize its success. Mormon “mo-jo” becomes the most important variable in the growth function of the Great Basin Kingdom and the deciding factor in its success. A change in that variable (as expressed by the members forsaking their memberships, failing to pay tithing or continue their charitable and communal ways) would undoubtedly have created the biggest difference in Mormon development.

Although the factors of social and economic development among The Great Basin Kingdom were extremely complicated and often controversial it turned out to become one of the greatest development success stories in modern history. In the book Great Basin Kingdom, Leonard J. Arrington explores this development and the policies and obstacles that early Mormon founders faced. Unique from normal development models, the greatest reasons for success of this model was identified as being the ideology or of the Mormon people and their unified quest to build the literal and spiritual Kingdom of God. (With plenty of hiccups along way).

This book has given me a deeper perspective of the Mormon economic structure and the development of the Salt Lake Valley. It serves as an interesting model to study and follow for development and fight against global poverty.

It is a book that would be helpful to read before any business start-up, non-profit, for-profit or social venture.

Simplifile Your County Documents

I have a little sister who works for company that scans and digitizes legal documents. It is a fun little company that requires some initial contracts and some consistent employees, but appears nonetheless to be a relatively low maintenance company. I think that to own a company that only requires management 5 days a week from 9-5 would be really fun.

Intrigued by the idea, I did a little research and threw the idea around with a number of different mentors. Really, the physical space and cost of labor to store, sort and retrieve physical documents can be astounding. As policy and regulations grow in a myriad of industries, so does the need to record, sort and retrieve documents.

Aaron Brown, a quality control specialist, mentioned to me that the sheer amount of work it takes to map out and track work flow management alone is astounding. And often very problematic for businesses. This ofcourse means it can be very expensive to customize into your system. Effective is good, but simple and efficient is better.

I was pleased to find a company online that seems to address, (although in a very specific niche) the need for a simple and cost effective method to electronically backup hard copy documents and expedite and track the often maticulous process of work-flow management.

The company is Simplifile. Their niche is county recording. They offer an electronic filing service for counties, attorneys and people who do titles/deeds/property records. I’m sure it could apply to just about any industry that requires electronic document recording. (Although I think it would be a stretch to apply it in an accounting/financial records setting.)

As long as a company is already fulfilling the need, I can’t see myself trying to pioneer one myself. Probably better just to use their services. Here a link to their new website, (in case anyone is interested) and a couple of articles that tell more about ‘em.

Positive or negative experiences with their services would be helpful.


Three Magic Words

I was reading a post by a revered entrepreneur Rich Christiansen about Les Miserables and how Javert could not let go of his frustrations and need to chase Jean ValJean. His words reminded me of something that a very wise mentor once shared with me before I got married:

“Remember those three simple words and most things that bother you in marriage will make much more sense. … ‘It doesn’t matter’”

This of course is not encouraging apathy but rather suggests a prioratizing of what really matters in life.

A little thought that could also apply to Richard’s simple four words,Give it up already!

This rule applies in start-ups, interpersonal or partnership relationships and of course the daily grind of operations management.

Car Insurance Rep

In the Rock Chip Repair Business, I have had to work with a lot of different Utah Auto Insurance companies.

Although there are still several months left in my Rock Chip adventure, I do ocassionally think about what it would be like to start up an insurance. company.

The immensity of capital and finance experience to build a good insurance company is staggering. Nothing I would jump into anytime soon, but certainly I could look at starting an insurance marketing company. There is certainly money in repping for insurance companies.

This little preface may help you understand the following thought:

Across the 6+ locations I manage, there is a significant difference in the demographic and types of insurance.

Of the insurance companies that people seem to be the happiest with, there are a few that are great to work with, (at least in glass-only claims).

All State


Bear River

As a technician I would have to say that All State is the easiest to work with and Geico is the most friendly to work with. Geico also seems to really have a system down to take care of the customer and actually help them feel good about putting a claim through.

Geico also has a really easy system to do claims online at their website. They seem to have the best grasp of centralizing the number of different ways to speed up insurance.

It’s also kinda fun to think about the direction that the company is headed. Warren Buffet owns it and still endorses it as a good business decision.

Let me know what you think!