Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sears Sells Craftsman tools to Stanley - The end of an era

You got a catalog in the mail that contained everything from tractors to bras, and Sears shipped your purchase to your home.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The death rattle continues at Sears as the once leading retail giant struggles to survive in an ever-changing world.


What has always been so puzzling to many is what happened at Sears.

Many of you are way too young to remember but Sears built their retail empire on mail order sales.

You got a catalog in the mail that contained everything from tractors to bras, you placed an order and Sears shipped your purchase to your home.

Sears had distribution centers, contracts with suppliers and shippers and the ability to process orders reasonably quickly. Early on in their history, you could order a complete house from Sears.

The folks at Sears were simply the best merchants in the world up through the early 1970’s.

If you take that Sears catalog and clean it up put it online and you have well – Amazon.

What happened – in two words: Allstate Insurance.

As the financial side of Sears, Allstate and credit services, began to grow exponentially the top management at Sears became enamored with the ability to make large sums of money without all that annoying retail business of buying, handling, selling and shipping “things.”

Moving around pieces of paper and later computer files to make vast sums money was just much simpler or so they thought.

Sears morphed from a retail giant to a holding company only to see investments in real estate brokers and financial services fail.

The final nail in the coffin occurred years ago, as Sears was acquired by their once arch nemesis K-Mart; not only a huge business defeat but also a moral blow from which Sears would never recover.

Under K-Mart leadership, the Sears brand was left to struggle with little help or support and the death has been slow and painful.

For generations, the Sears brands: Weather Beater Paint, Die Hard Batteries, Road Handler tires, Kenmore Appliances and the, legendary Craftsman Tools were staples in US households.

For many years, I had the great pleasure of working for Sears in sales and on the management team. During that time, I received my Master Degree - an MBA.

Their employee training was the best and I used those experiences long into my career.

Their stock option plan bought me and my x-wife houses.

Each month when my Sears retirement check shows up as it has been doing for over 20 years, I get not only a few bucks but also a reminder of a great experience.

The Sears Store in the Tyrone Mall where I worked for many years is closing soon along with a number of other Sears stores around the nation.

The sale of the Craftsman Brand to Stanley Tools is near the last step in the history of a great retail company that helped many families raise their kids, provided excellent products, goods and services as well as jobs and great futures for many of their employees.

I suspect that next month when the check shows up it will bring a tear instead of smile.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Former Sears employee – retired.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The 2016-2017 Baseball "Third Season" – a sleeper so far


Are the Rays are having some trouble getting a serious stadium conversation started?


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

I have defined the Tampa Bay Baseball "Third Season" as that time between the last world series game and the start of the spring training media hype or roughly late October to late February.


This is the time when the Rays usually beat the drum loudly complaining about poor attendance blaming it on Tropicana Field and lack luster appreciation of the sport by the local population.

In the past the Third Season" has included games between Tampa, Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and this year the City of Oldsmar and a small skirmish with Derby Lane.

There has been little of the normal posturing and hype associated previous "Third Seasons." While one could conclude that there is a lot going on in the background, the silence is deafening.

Mark Topkin, Tampa Bay Times staff writer reports some interesting comments from Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in, Manfred: There has to be "end game" in Rays stadium bid or ...

Manfred said, "Ultimately, there has to be an end game. If in fact, there's not a site or there's not a financial arrangement that's viable and we become convinced of that, our rules allow for the possibility of relocation."

Every since Jeff Vinik made the statement about his downtown Tampa development "Baseball is not the best and highest use of the property" (paraphrase) interest seems to have waned across the Bay.

Smart money in Tampa has apparently heard Tampa's premier developer and current talk in the Legislature about limiting funding for sports stadiums has thrown a bit of cold Gator Aid on the new stadium site.

The clock is ticking.

With the dawn of 2017, the Rays have just ten years left on their lease agreement with the City of St. Petersburg. That may sound like a long time but when it comes to new stadiums, the time window from start to first pitch could consume most of that time.

Consider getting land accumulated, an actual agreement, arranging a controversial and complicated financing deal, a possible referendum, a plan for paying for infrastructure costs, and an electorate not real thrilled with public funds being diverted to sports franchise owners, the whole process spanning several major political races and elections while baseball interest in the Bay area continues to deteriorate.

How much of your money would you invest in a new stadium?

It could be the reason why we have not heard much during this "Third Season" is the Rays are having some trouble getting a serious conversation started.

It is starting to look like Mayor Kriseman may be correct about the Rays looking around and finding the Trop site is the best place after all. Maybe what they find is it is the ONLY place.

I have long said the real problem St. Petersburg faces with the Rays is not that they leave, but they will want to stay.

As the Commissioner said, "Ultimately, there has to be an end game. If in fact, there's not a site or there's not a financial arrangement that's viable and we become convinced of that, our rules allow for the possibility of relocation."

So far, not so good.

Or there's always Oldsmar. See Christopher O'Donnell, Times Staff Writer  Rays stadium in Oldsmar? The mayor sure thinks so.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures:

Friday, January 6, 2017

St. Petersburg needs another "Baker Plan" and a person who can implement it.

St. Petersburg has languished for eight years it is time to get a plan and leadership that can take the City into the next decade.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

For those of you new to St. Petersburg, here is a bio of former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker.

Wikipedia - Born in Chicago, Baker is married to wife Joyce.[1] While attending Florida State University, Baker was the President of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. He also served as the school's senior class president and president of the Student Senate. Baker has a long] background in management and law. Baker received a BS in management, an MBA and Juris Doctor (honors) from Florida State University. He also studied comparative law for a semester abroad at University of Oxford. Baker has practiced corporate and business law for 20 years, serving as president of Fisher and Sauls, P.A., a St. Petersburg law firm.[2] Prior to his election as mayor, Baker served as the chairman of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.[2] He is also the author of Mangroves to Major League, a historical account of the development of the city of St. Petersburg.

Rick Baker became St. Pete’s Mayor in 2001 running on a simple premise called the “Baker Plan” 

The Baker Plan:
Improving schools
Neighborhoods
Public safety
Economic development

The "Baker Plan," concentrated on five areas: education; economic development, particularly in Midtown St. Petersburg; public safety; neighborhood associations; and improving the efficiency of city services.

Baker focused on these four key issues for the four years of his first term drawing the entire City organization into a tight focus on these core issues of public service and commitments. There was no doubt about where we were going as an organization.

It was truly amazing what an organization clearly focused could accomplish. There were measurable positive improvements in every area of the Baker Plan.

In 2005, Baker ran for reelection and won with 70% of the vote. From Tampa Bay Times By CARRIE JOHNSON and JON WILSON Published November 9, 2005 'A city united:' Baker cruises to re-election.

The major problem with the Kriseman administration is the complete lack of focus. There is no central theme, no anchor of ideas to guide the City's administration, no compass that the staff can look to for planning.

Kriseman's inability to provide leadership and focus have led the City into series jerks and fits with no clear direction for anything.

Rick Baker may or may not be the right person to lead St. Petersburg forward into the next decade but his concept of a simple clear stated course of direction that can focus budgets, efforts, plans and measure results is surely, what is needed.

Rick Baker has not made a decision yet about running for St. Pete Mayor this year, and I think his decision will be strongly influenced by who steps up to take the challenge.

If you love St. Pete, you only need to look around at the burgeoning office of the Mayor staffed with political cronies, the decline in south side schools, no effective plans for the problems that face the City, a midtown and south side that are only slightly better off thanks not to the Mayor but the tireless efforts of Steve Kornell and a staff with no direction seeking legal protection when they bring forth problems.

It is time for local business leaders, community leaders and others to look at their community role and maybe read one or both of Baker's books (The Seamless City: A Conservative Mayor's Approach to Urban Revitalization that Can Work Anywhere  and Mangroves to Major League: A Timeline of St. Petersburg, Florida and consider doing what he did: steeping out to make a difference.

St. Petersburg has languished for eight years it is time to get a plan and leadership that can take the City into the next decade.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: I was a member of the Baker Administration for eight years.