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Entries in Business (43)


Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

With a couple of weeks left in the Dog Days of Summer, hopefully you will take advantage of the remaining time, and enjoy your family and friends. Its been exciting this year and perhaps not relaxed as the usual Dog Days of years back.

Agreed, times change...its been a lively summer.

Would you agree that perhaps this summer we have learned that not "everything" keeps on going up and up, and some "stuff" gets a reality check. You can fill in for yourself everything and stuff.

A quick flavor of where oil prices are headed Oil's New Normal...not really going up anytime soon.

Over a decade ago The Colonel learned that business e-mail exchanges can easily be presented in court as evidence. You have to truly wonder why folks forget that e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, Text Messages in the digital world that we live in have en enduring life, and can be interpreted in a myriad of fashions.

What happened to "eyeballing an individual in a conversation"...go figure.

Fascinating thoughts by Google on #Elxn 42 The Digital Election

If you missed our "random thoughts" which are attracting attention, just scroll down.

The various auctions at Pebble Beach last week, Ferrari prices were/are in the "nose bleed" section, you have to be part of the 0.01% to afford these cars. Browse through the RM Sotheby's results.

A stunning photo gallery from the Pebble Beach Concours...enjoy




Assembling Cars

You have surely noticed that every manufacturer is on a constant search and quest to save money in one fashion or another. From increased common platforms, and components, to a variety of alliances to share more components.

Finally comes the time to put all this stuff together and turn it into a car (vehicle), obvious that finding the least expensive area/jurisdiction on the planet that makes sense is always on the agenda. Part of being competitive is emulating the other guy that seems to have an advantage, and then the other guy too...and so on.

Lets look back a few decades or even longer...

Back then when manufacturers made a decision to open an assembly plant in Canada, the lower value of the CDN dollar was always a factor, as well as health care, and probably a bunch of subsidies too. Lets also keep in mind that from the auto pact onward there has always been car free trade between Canada and the US.

For decades it made sense to assemble vehicles in Canada, and ship them to the US.

Going even further back...Henry Ford quickly understood that paying a decent wage enabled his employees to afford his product.


With the increased prominence of Mexico as a cheaper jurisdiction to initially assemble components, and now vehicles. Lately it seems all wrong to assemble vehicles in Canada.

You have to wonder what sort of spreadsheet Ford is using to justify investing additional money at their Oakville plant, while other are finding Canada too expensive for one reason or another. Toyota has the same spreadsheet as Ford for their Cambridge plant.

Operating a robot in various jurisdictions must be close to the same cost...reflect on this for a moment.

Imagine for a moment Mercedes-Benz shutting their Sindelfingen plant, or BMW the Munich plant, or Porsche Zuffenhausen, or VW Wolfsburg.

In Canada, GM is synonymous with Oshawa, Ford Oakville, Chrysler Windsor....




The Transparency Spin

Have you noticed that everyone is talking about clarity, transparency, especially when relating to consumers and customers.

Have you noticed how many apply a spin to the transparency. Which begs the question "How transparent is it?"

A few examples...

Yes or No

The simple transparent clear answer would be a yes or no. Simple...or not. How often does it get complex with qualified answers that are at times almost spun out of control.

Make It As You Go

This one is precious..."We don't have all the facts, details, but we are transparent and we make it as we go for the sake of transparency."

Surprising how adept humans are at making it as you go, subscribing to un informed platitudes, while remaining on a thought vector that is at best vague, and will continue to reinforce making it as you go.

Agreed..."making it as you go" is very close to "bulls@#t"

But its all transparent...

Narrow Band of Transparency

Its the "We are transparent within these parameters/guidelines." Outside of the parameters, its opaque, it obfuscates, its un informed, it wastes time.

We could keep on going, but you surely grasp our thoughts, as usual you have to be your own editor at all times, especially in an environment that promotes transparency.

What do you think...





The Strada Walk 

Are we on to something new with a walk around, especially that one increasingly hears about having really important meetings while talking a walk...walking.

Lets see what is on our minds this morning.

Triple Crown

Yes we have an affinity for horsepower, and it was exciting to see American Pharaoh win the Triple Crown at Belmont on Saturday. Fascinating that Penny Chenery was in the stands. If you watched the previous 2 races, Espinosa the jockey changed strategy for Belmont, take the lead, and extend the lead in the stretch.


Its surprising that no one has yet caught up to whatever advantage Mercedes has, all the talk about Ferrari having a additional horsepower. Agreed Montreal was buzzing all of last week with a ton of F1 activities.


By now you know that we have a Ram Big Horn with an Eco Diesel. This pick up is very economical, surprisingly economical. The thought that crossed our minds "If Mercedes-Benz actually builds a pick up it will be a close to this Eco Diesel"

Behind Closed Doors

These past few days we have been reminded of all the activities that go on Behind Closed Doors, and how discreet everyone is about the decisions and out comes. You have to ask pointed questions and even then...


Way back in the days of "mechanical cars" being a good driver was an aspiration. Today with vehicles full of technology, driving is a required evil to get around. Yes...self driving cars might do a better job.




Saddleback Leather - 4 Years

Saddleback Large Chestnut BriefcaseTime really goes by quickly, the Saddleback briefcase is 4 years old. It keeps on travelling across Canada, under plane seats, in overhead bins, on cars seats, in trunks.

The one thing it did not do this past year is go to the Caribbean, The Colonel opted for a smaller briefcase.

Yes...still attracts attention especially in airports.

Dave Munson of Saddleback is correct, after 4 years still looks new, with hardly any wear showing. It actually looks better now with the start of a patina.

Remains very useful to carry  all sorts of technological devices (laptop, smart phones, camera), and old school stuff like a writing pad, pens, spare change, lip balm to name a few.

Especially if you have an aversion to syntethic material, wheeled cases with a handle that are so common in airports. Lets not forget the usual back packs that you see all over the place.

Its a unique, cool, durable leather briefcase in our case ideal for business use and travel.




Why Do You Do It?

This morning we have The Colonel with us, he has not been around for some time, been a busy guy lately from what we hear.

Lets get him going with a few questions, and dispense with the niceties. Its a One on One with The Colonel.

Q: Colonel why do you do it?

A: Guys you mean Strada...simple PASSION, and after all these years there is even more passion.

Q: How much time do you spend/invest in Strada?

A: Depends on what is going on, a few hours...lets leave it at that.

Q: How come you are not a member of any club/association/guild?

A: Simple...STRADA is the publication, its the platform, agreed its a boutique publication. A free lancer needs to belong to "something" to provide a base, foundation. As you know we belong to Strada...

Q: You always mention that one needs to be their own editor, there are a myriad of pundits publishing on a myriad of platforms.

A: Absolutely, in some respects its a good thing (disseminating news), in others there is a ton of sh#t floating around. Fascinating when you apply pressure to "pedestrian" knowledge it quickly recedes.

Q: There's a ton of pundits disseminating pedestrian knowledge.

A: Its the nature of the Internet and Social Media there is a substantial layer of pedestrian knowledge being disseminated...that its probably disintermediating real knowledge. Think about that for a moment.

Q: Pedestrian disintermediating real...its thought provoking.

A: Yes is..but for another time.

Q: You mention boutique to expand?

A: If an individual wants to read comments, editorials that will provoke their thinking they will find Strada interesting and informative, and incite them to be reflective. In essence Strada is not for everyone...its never been for folks that are seeking pedestrian knowledge.

Q: Perhaps at times you are too far ahead of the 8 Ball?

A: some respects its not a good thing to attract more eyeballs. Its the editorial direction of Strada. We push the envelope, ask questions that raise a thought process.

Q: Your thought leadership might intimidate some folks?

A: Sure it does...not the best for eyeballs, but great to uphold the editorial position. We have not wavered in countless years now.

Q: Being ahead of the 8 Ball provides a competitive advantage in the auto business.

A: That's what its all about, its a competitive business, everyone is seeking an advantage. By the time its pedestrian knowledge its no longer ahead or an advantage...need I say more.

Q:Some folks might have a challenge grasping being ahead.

A: Sure they do...the reason we are a boutique publication.

Q:Do you have some examples of being ahead.

A: Wow that's a loaded question. 1- We mentioned a few months ago that low oil, low CDN dollar, presumed cheap gas, higher food prices were on the immediate horizon...most folks were talking about cheap gas presumably saving consumers a ton of money. 2- Long loan terms provide mobility not ownership...most folks relate long loan terms to longer lasting vehicles.

Q: Do you rattle cages?

A: If sharing prescient thinking, being on a thought leadership vector rattles cages, let the folks that feel rattled catch up and get ahead of the 8 Ball.

Q: Its still PASSION?

A: Absolutely...a ton of passion.





Leadership Reality

Back in the golden days of the auto business when personalities and egos were expected, and often delivered. Do we really need to mention names?

These guys back then, right or wrong had an innate understanding and knowledge base of the auto industry and business. Compared to today there was a minuscule media bubble around the auto industry. At the time the social autosphere did not exist.

Fast forward to today, the individuals in the auto business have subdued public personas, while the social autosphere is constantly expanding and evolving.

Here is the deal:

There remains a lack of leadership, accountability, populated by sidestepping, supported by reasoning that often defies gravity. This often captures the attention of the autosphere for a few fleeting moments, before its lost or superseded by another story which is more timely and might capture a few additional eyeballs.

In the autosphere its the superficial opinion often supported by a catchy headline (you need the headline for the eyeballs). When the opinion is discussed or questioned, the ensuing discussion is often deflected, since there is little "real" knowledge to corroborate and support the opinion.

In the business arena its the project that goes forward at a glacial pace, speeds up to a snails pace, while never getting into real time. It begs the question "Who owns this sh&t?"...which often is deflected with a seemingly rational explanation of various stakeholders, acronyms, and teams. While never answering "who owns the sh&t" or who is going to make it work.

Leadership, teams, teamwork, contributions, knowledge workers, the "thing" gets bogged down, and its easy to double back and distribute the ownership of the sh&t. To the point of "this broke while the team member was in the bathroom"

Think about this...who in his right mind is going to step up (lead) and own the sh&t while potentially jeopardising their mortgage payments?

Yes...we agree the Peter Principle remains enduring.




How Many Models Is Enough?

If you have been in the auto business long enough you hopefully remember from a few decades ago the movement to rationalise the number of models that were offered by a make. At the time the rationale was the Europeans and Japanese have less models.

Back in the day, Chevrolet as an example had a myriad of models and body styles, the same for Ford, and Chrysler. The thinking was to cut back on the number of models, to stop trying to fill every minute segment of the market, while selling more vehicles, and improving profitability.

The  Japanese had dramatically less models, and were inexorably gaining ground.

Once the models were rationalised, the focus shifted to decreasing the number of platforms. When you hear that a manufacturer has gone from 15 to 5 platforms. You can conclude that they are saving money while increasing profitability.

You also remember when models had an actual name, and not an alpha numeric (alphabet soup) nomenclature. Today the names are still around, Impala, Taurus, Camry, Accord, Elantra, to name a few. While the alphanumeric also thrives and seems to gain in disciples. A few examples, 3 Series, X5, CLA250, RX300, CTS, A3 to name a few.

From a manufacturer identification most vehicles have a body/platform identification; its a B Body, a W222, and a model designator its a 7BL57, 1BP67.

If you get the feeling that the model designators are creeping as "marketing" model names that are used to identify the vehicles in the market, we agree with you.

If you get the feeling that some manufacturers are establishing a parallel model line up with even more alpha numeric identifiers, we again agree with you.

Not only do the additional alpha numeric names confuse, you have to ask if they do not also dilute.

This business that constantly pushes the envelope, 1 is good, 2 is better, and 3 might be too much; with a fine line between 2 and 3.

If you think that some manufacturers are close to, or even past the 3, be patient it will be clearer in the following months. Its the classic case of sell 10 with 3 models, sell 12 with 6 models, sell 13.5 with 8 models. The sales are increasing along the the complexity, confusion, dilution, and perhaps even values.



Make A Dent

Spread a bit of love, understanding, compassion, humility...

Tell your friends to do the same...

We might just make the world a better place...

We urge you to give it a try, we will in 2015...




This morning we have The Colonel enjoying a cappuccino with us, while we pick his thoughts on "perspectives". Lets get going...

Q: Colonel Good Morning as usual you look refreshed and still with a tan from your gone fishing days.

A: Thanks guys, the tan is quickly going away with the cold climate.

Q: What can you tell us about perspectives at Strada?

A: It starts with "We don't follow, we lead"..."passion"..."always seeking an advantage" to name the most obvious.

Q: We get the feeling that you are a competitive individual.

A: To thrive in the auto business you have to be competitive, you have to "win", you need an advantage.

Q: Do we conclude that through the years you have developed and calibrated a different perspective.

A: Precisely, often we all see the same thing, its what you do with the same thing.

Q: Could that make you an outlier, somewhat off the vector that most folks adopt.

A: Absolutely, it often becomes a question of "Who is this guy?"..."What does he do? How does he see things?"

Q: At times it might be simpler/safer to follow the common path, and reap results faster as an example.

A: I don't know about reaping results faster, and I'm not well versed in following, never was.

Q: With social media, perspectives can take many nuances.

A: Yes they can and will, but if you do the right thing, tell the truth, are polite, humble, generous, share knowledge. The perspectives remain constant.

Q: You are saying that "intellectual integrity" upholds a constant perspective. Even when its easier to do something else.

A: Precisely, and intellectual integrity is a precious/priceless commodity.

Q: How do you uphold your perspectives in an age of technology, social media, being on 24/7?

A: As we always say, you have to be your own editor, you have to be observant, you have to connect dots instantly. More important you have to be brutally honest with yourself.

Q: Experience, knowledge base, wisdom surely helps, being around this business for a few decades is a huge asset.

A: Yes it is, lingering on the past is futile. Focusing on the future, seeking an advantage is essential.

Q: Its easy with social media to quickly "fall in line" with a pedestrian thought process.

A: Its the tragedy of our times, lets fall in line, lets pump our ego, lets connect, and so on. Its dramatically more demanding to have a different, thought provoking perspective.

Q: Some folks might be "turned off" or might not understand a different perspective.

A: Agreed...the reason we say "Brain Power to Energise Your Automotive Experience" folks that are not seeking the brain power are not interested.

Q: In one respect its a narrow focus.

A: Its a wide focus, wide spectrum, but you need an ongoing intellectual curiosity that is not widely appealing. 

Q: Perhaps being in the business for a few decades compromises change.

A: Not at all, with intellectual curiosity, change is easy even if uncomfortable.

Enough for this morning...