Some folks may have heard that there have been some issues with my new truck. Visiting Wyoming over the holiday break, the beast refused to start. Now to be fair, it gets cold in the mountains of Wyoming. Grizzly bear intelligence is under-rated, because sleeping in a warm cave is the best way to deal with a Wyoming winter. But the second best way is to hop in your warm truck and try your rusty ski skills out on the local slopes.
It is a little bit frustrating to get into your gear, climb into the truck and listen to it constantly crank and not catch. What is infinitely more frustrating is to call roadside assistance early in the morning and have them lose your information once, and not get help to you until 11 hours later.
Besides cold winters and great skiing, Wyoming is known for its sparse population. Naturally, there was no dealership within a 60-mile radius. So when attempts to reach corporate for advice on what to do with their non-functioning product are met with lost calls, runaround, and infinite voicemail loops, one can get frustrated. Three days I spent wrestling with corporate and trying to get satisfaction. In the end, they never called me back to follow up on my month-old truck.
I know, a sad tale of a first-world problem. But there are some good guys in this story. While my experience with the corporate conglomerate was bordering contemptuous, three entities stood out and they had one thing in common. Woody’s Hungry Bear Grocery and Tow Service was the local outfit that came and picked up my truck to transport it to the local dealership in Afton, Wyoming. Both were service-minded, friendly, responsive, and did the job right. When I got home, I went to my local dealership and they dealt with corporate on my behalf to insure that I was reimbursed for the costs that I had incurred. They took the extra step of installing a block heater on the truck at their expense.
The common denominator, in case you missed it, was local, local, and local. With a few well-publicized exceptions, corporate conglomerates are not well known for service. On the other hand, when the people with whom you are dealing are your friends and neighbors, the equation changes and so does the level of service.
That, friends, is why local control works best. Nothing against our colleagues and friends in the legislature and state department, but the folks back home are in the best position to know the local issues and to make decisions to improve local situations. There is an attitude among some in Topeka that the best way to improve schools is to centralize more power in Topeka. But schools are not manufacturers; education is a service business. It may be more efficient for an auto manufacturer to operate that way, but not more effective. Locals know how to provide the service that is needed at a fair price.