Here at MN, our shared devotion to the details sometimes makes it difficult to see the bigger picture. And as important as every individual project is to our business, it’s important to remind ourselves that we are part of something much larger, both within our company and the industry. Because the things we control so well on your project are the same things we continue to focus on with every other relationship we have with the people and entities that impact our growth.
“UH OH, I SENSE ANOTHER RICH METAPHOR COMING ON.”
Yep, you got it. The truth is we spend a lot of our time at MN in what feels like a fishbowl, hyperfocused on pretty much every detail that impacts the individual projects we are working on right now. To do our jobs well, we must intimately know the terrain of these bowls since we’ve been hired by people like you to build them.
Sure, it’s destined to be someone else’s bowl eventually, but while we’re working on that bowl, we own it. This hyperfocus is a good thing, since our job is to work well with all the future inhabitants of these bowls to create truly amazing environments. And we do just that, everyday.
“SO YOU’RE SAYING WE’RE IN THE FISHBOWL BUSINESS?”
Not exactly. Sure, our individual projects may feel like a fishbowl, but we are also part of what is actually a much larger MN aquarium. That’s one of the reasons we have
regular all-hands meetings and gatherings: to remind ourselves of this bigger picture, to gain some perspective on our own projects and to learn more about what is happening with the company as a whole.
And if you’ve ever tried to keep an aquarium healthy, you know it takes a lot of work. Constant attention is required to maintain the proper water temperature and chemistry. You have to select the right mix of species, the correct ratio of plants-to-fish to keep things balanced, and bring in the right amounts of oxygen and food from the outside. This is a daily effort.
“SO WE’RE AN AQUARIUM. GOT IT.”
Well, sort of. (Stick with me, people.) Zoom out a bit more and you’ll see that the waters we swim in are part of a much larger, more intricate, and somewhat delicate ecosystem. And since we’ve gone this far with the water metaphor, let’s
say this ecosystem is the San Francisco Bay itself.
A multitude of colorful creatures call this bay home, resulting in a design and construction environment unlike anywhere else in the world, especially within the residential realm.
A lot of these fish are our clients, of course, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and stripes—individual homeowners, small businesses, and non-profits. Even other general contractors are part of our ecosystem, bringing the lion’s share of business to our Cabinet Shop.
But the diversity doesn’t end there. We have all types of outside Architects, Interior Designers, and Landscape Architects making the rounds, too. Our constant collaboration with these visionary minds is perhaps the most important symbiotic relationship we have going at MN. The more we help these partner Architects transform their challenging ideas into beautiful, long-lasting environments, the more Architect partners we attract to our business, and the more everyone in the ecosystem thrives.
This can be easier said than done, given all the other factors impacting our bay. State building and energy codes and environmental regulations flow down the Sacramento River on a regular basis to shape the underwater terrain of our world. This fresh surge mixes with the salty sea water to form a brackish mix of currents that we must navigate on every one of our projects. Local municipalities are the rocks jutting out from the water, affecting the current and flow of building projects for better or worse, while the local inspectors are the cranky pelicans perched atop these rocks, ready to swoop in when they spot a vulnerability. In the skies above, CalOSHA is a colony of gulls, also always watching and ready to feast on even the smallest safety violation.
International events also impact our local ecosystem. Three years ago, the COVID volcano erupted in Wuhan, China, spewing ash across the globe. For the first couple of weeks we thought it would block out the sun and shut down business, but counterintuitively, it drove more work than ever through our doors.
Recent national policy choices by the Federal Bank on interest rates are the high pressure system putting a damper on the economy. National and local banks do their best to guide the storm water coming down from the hills and while most are built well, some are not and their failures have a ripple effect on what we do.
Other features of our ecosystem that shape our training initiatives, approve our building permits, and impact our production schedules include state and local governments. There is our bank that enables our lending and spending power (as well as our ESOP distributions). And don’t forget all the utility companies who help us meet the rising demand for green energy homes and appliances.
It doesn’t stop there. Look around our bay and you’ll spot even more subcontractors, suppliers, consultants, and engineers—all of whom have a direct impact on the health of our ecosystem and how MN is perceived in our highly competitive industry.
That’s a lot of different entities, people, and perspectives to keep track of, each representing a relationship we need to nurture and in order to continue our remarkable growth.
“SO WE LIVE IN THE BAY. I KNEW THAT ALREADY. NOW WHAT?”
Listen, there is a reason I am channeling my inner Jacques Cousteau to describe to you just how large and complex the ecosystem is beyond our respective fishbowls. It’s not to make your individual project feel small. It’s to reiterate something that has been the lifeblood of our organization since this company was formed—our ability to control the things that are controllable and prepare for the things that are not.
And what can we control? First and foremost, we strive every day to take care of our primary symbiotic relationships with you, our client, as well as our partner Architects and Designers. And we do that by continuing to be the transparent, honest, and solutions-oriented partners we’ve always been, with the ability to swim as easily in the bigger bay as we do in your extraordinary fishbowl.