Choosing quality over quantity

I saw a story on Slashdot today about Snapper pulling out of Wal-Mart. While Snapper’s competitors were angling to be the brand of choice at various big-box stores, Snapper decided they couldn’t do things the Wal-Mart way and pulled out.I don’t want to spoil the story, but basically Snapper makes premium mowers intended to last a lifetime. Their lowest-cost model costs three times as much as the lowest-cost model at Wal-Mart, but a $349 mower that runs for a couple of decades is a bigger bargain than a $99 mower that only lasts a couple of years.

Wal-Mart wanted Snapper to outsource its manufacturing, and just slap its name on something that was made cheaply overseas. Snapper decided to take a gamble, tell a company responsible for 20 percent of its sales to get lost because it was only breaking even, and concentrate its efforts on its independent dealer network, and hope to make up the difference by becoming more efficient.

I like the story’s description of the way the company builds things. They assemble their mowers very rapidly, but they test each one before they ship it out, and if it doesn’t start right or run right, they pull it aside and make it right before it goes into the box.

Whoever said they don’t make ’em like they used to wasn’t talking about these guys, in other words.

Now that I know that’s how Snapper builds things, I think when the time comes for me to buy a new lawnmower, I’d be stupid not to buy one of theirs. I had no idea anyone was still making lawnmowers in the United States.

I hope I’m not the only one who thinks that way.

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