Feeling a Little Sad for the Folks at Radio Shack, and all those in the Position of MiddleMan

an intermediary or agent between two parties; especially : a dealer, agent, or company intermediate between the producer of goods and the retailer or consumer.


Read this carefully:

Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Mark Fields said carmakers faced the challenge of avoiding becoming dependent on someone else’s business model as companies from new industries increasingly enter the auto trade.
“There are others who we never thought five years ago would be competitors for us,” Fields said on Wednesday, stopping short of naming which companies were emerging as sector rivals. Software maker Google recently unveiled an autonomous vehicle.
“Guess what, they are looking at our industry, not taking anything for granted, they are questioning tradition and they are knocking down walls. I want to make sure Ford doesn’t end up like the handset business,” Fields told an automotive conference in Bochum.
From Ford CEO: New business models threaten all carmakers

radioshack-820x420Yesterday’s businesses and business models are in trouble. Radio Shack, like Circuit City and Montgomery Ward, and Western Auto, and Steak and Ale, and OfficeMax and soon Office Depot, and Kodak, and so many others, are now primarily alive in our memories. They are not part of our currently highly scheduled lives. (Only Radio Shack is still “open,” but just barely)…

And, as we rail about how Radio Shack did not adequately change with the times, let’s remember that there were some wonderful folks, working hard day-in and day-out, to make Radio Shack the best it could be – right up to the end…

Recently, I’ve read a story about a new app for purchasing men’s tuxedos, and soon suits. The quality is supposed to be high, the price amazingly low. The article described how all of the “middlemen” will be cut out of the process, thus enabling great savings.

And, I don’t remember the other article I recently read about another industry development where the middleman is being cut also.

In other words, with modern technology, the “middleman” may truly be an endangered species.

Coming Soon?
Coming Soon?

And, we now read that Apple may be entering the car making business, along with Google. (Apple may have hundreds of people working on an electric car that looks like a minivan).

Now, here’s a lesson, and a warning.

First, the lesson. We can talk all we want about superior execution, but superior execution of yesterday’s process or product or model is not enough. If some company (maybe, just two guys with an app) has the new product, the new delivery system, your old model is in serious danger.

And, if you rely on a bunch of “middlemen,” you will be undercut in price by the company that figures out how to do your business without the middleman.

And, that’s not a maybe – that’s a definite.

Second, the warning. So, what does a society do when all those “middlemen” (and women) lose their jobs?

I know some middlemen.  They are nice, hardworking people.  And plenty of them are going to lose their jobs through forces way beyond their control.

We’ve been reading for quite a while that technology will take so many jobs. And though our recent employment figures look a little more promising, wages are flat, and a whole host of jobs look especially vulnerable.

But, we’re probably going to love our Apple cars…


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