I am competitive, especially in my family’s annual NCAA basketball bracket challenge and business. As a business owner, I often learn about my competitors from a distance. I don’t want to be revealing all my business secrets or getting too friendly, right? But at Columbia Ultimate’s Art of Success last week, my whole outlook on competitor relationships was shaken.
First off, my booth assignment placed me literally within 10 feet of two of my competitors. At first I wasn’t too excited about it. I wondered how it would work being so close (I usually prefer competitors at least 20 or 30 feet away). However, it gave us all the opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level. What nice people they are! I’ve heard their sales pitches, they’ve heard mine and now we could probably sell each others’ products. The world and my company didn’t blow up and, more importantly, I had fun associating with them and my respect for their companies increased. Yes, I would even do it again at future events.
Secondly, I was shocked Tuesday morning when Fred Houston, Columbia Ultimate President and CEO, introduced Ron Fauquher, CEO of Ontario Systems, as his fiercest competitor—and a friend—and then asked him to the podium to speak. Why would ANYONE have their “fiercest competitor” speak at their own user conference?
Mr. Fauquher explained that Columbia Ultimate and Ontario Systems have entered into a limited partnership to provide the ARM Industry with compliance solutions, including consulting services, management systems, ongoing training and complaint resolution programs. Fantastic, I thought! Even though we are competitors we can work together on challenging industry issues.
In a press release published that same day Mr. Houston stated “These are very challenging times in the ARM industry. Meeting those challenges means maintaining compliance, and we want to ensure our clients have the resources they need to do just that.”
I applaud Ontario Systems and Columbia Ultimate for putting the competition aside and working together for the good of the industry. It will be interesting to watch as their plans come to fruition. Just making this announcement they’ve already had a positive impact on our industry.
The Art of Success conference proved to me competitors can work side-by-side with each other as friends for the common good of their customers. Let’s learn from Mr. Houston and Mr. Fauquher’s example and work together as friends to help our industry succeed. Thank you Columbia Ultimate and Ontario Systems!