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Adam Neiman founded the Rosebud Roofing Company in 1986. He writes in the
"I had little experience and less capital when I started my first business,
but I knew just enough to know the competition's weakness. Most tended to
treat their natural allies, their workers and customers, like adversaries.
They were predators without a clear understanding of who their prey was. We
exploited this weakness, not by running down the competition; that too was
standard practice. We differentiated our product just by being different,
and that was enough. I experienced the pleasure of taking market share from
well established outfits by doing nothing more complicated than trying to
treat everyone the way I would want to be treated. And I began to wonder if
this notion could have broader applications. Bienestar International is my
answer to that question.
"Management's job is to serve as honest broker between the three parties
that make up the deal -- workers, consumers and investors. If all parties get
a fair shake everyone wants to come back and do business tomorrow -- in a
perfect world. In reality, labor usually requires a strong voice to make
certain a fair shake is had. But itıs in the long term interest of all
parties. It's no surprise that the management culture that started the '90s
ripping off their workers ended the decade by robbing their investors blind.
"There is nothing like a very small business to teach a man his strengths
and weaknesses. My best asset is a keen sense of enlightened self-interest.
This is the ability not only to see the ethical choice but to figure out how
to make doing the right thing just as profitable as doing wrong.
"I've found my old political skills, from the anti-war movement and the
staff of the McGovern and Carter campaigns, readily applied to business.
Visibility and name recognition translated into brand building. The nuts and
bolts of building a grass roots insurgency just aren't that different from
bootstrapping a business on a shoestring."