Black and White Program

Talking Shop with George Davison

May 9th, 2008 by John Eastman

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Tell me how your business has changed over the last five years? How has it evolved?
DAVISON: The technology and systems that we have in place have made it possible for us to really take advantage of logistics. So we’ve been able to keep costs under control, based upon sheer efficiency of systems, and putting volumes through there in such a way that it’s enabled us to meet expectations that we only dreamed of five years ago. In the past, we would hand make our samples, prototypes and packaging, but today we have all sorts of robots that we feed our engineering into so they machine perfectly. Today, it’s just so much more advanced. Practically everything we have is automated. We do most everything with clean manufacturing with reduced risk to our team. We’ve been able to put together something that’s special in the way that a lot of custom work doesn’t have to overwhelm the company or a customer any more.

So three or four years ago, you were in business, but you didn’t do things at the level you’re doing them now, in terms of manufacturing products?
DAVISON: We used to do a lot more handmade units back then and we didn’t have as many customers. Once we started getting more and more customers, it put more pressure on the system. The boiling point that we had five years ago was started once word got out about our capabilities, and then all of a sudden, more and more projects started coming through. That chaos led to a massive amount of work to manufacture all the innovative products.

…there’s a paradigm shift happening as we speak. The corporations that have been in existence for a hundred years manufacturing products and did their own R&D are being challenged by a lot of knock off products from off-shore companies.

And so move ahead five years from now. What’s InventionLand doing for customers five years from now?
DAVISON: It’s providing more and more product options for companies, and for that customer of the future, because it’s so affordable to be able to do R&D through our system that they’re able to do more of it. And let’s face it, the more R&D you do, the more innovations hit the marketplace, and you’ll find something that the market really needs. So, it’s a numbers game and a quality game. You said, “five years out.” Well, there’s a paradigm shift happening as we speak. The corporations that have been in existence for a hundred years manufacturing products and did their own R&D are being challenged by a lot of knock off products from off-shore companies. Their lines are getting commoditized. And once a line is commoditized, the first thing that happens is the internal R&D budget gets killed by the non-creatives who tend to run the numbers side of the business. So U.S. companies are finding that once they get commoditized, they still need innovative items at a better cost. And we provide a constant flow of newness. But that’s just what’s happening on the surface. The bottom line is that if their R&D people aren’t “getting the job done,” it’s usually because the culture and environment are all wrong inside their company, which is a leadership issue. Today’s business leaders must better understand the relationship between business and innovation. InventionLand will be playing a larger role in empowering corporate leaders with the insight in how to better inspire the people who will bring new product growth to their organization.

I respect other companies’ business models that know success is a process. It’s not something you do once in a while.


Tell me what you respect in other companies’ business models – something that stands out to you.

DAVISON: I respect other companies’ business models that know success is a process. It’s not something you do once in a while. And you need to understand what your duty is to your organization. You need to be true to it every single day and commit to it so that nothing can get in your way. And that’s what I keep seeing in certain companies throughout business history. I’m a big fan of business autobiographies. And the constant thread I keep seeing is to establish a process. You follow the process. You diligently pursue it each day. I also respect companies that get comfortable in the uncomfortable. Push the envelope and keep pushing so you get comfortable in that uncomfortable space of unknowns so you explore and celebrate failure as part of the process and you’ll overcome eventually.

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