What Would You Do if You Were Running Greyhound?

Greyhound Lines is being acquired by the German company FlixMobility at a cost of $78MM…which seems small for a storied company with a well-known brand name which still provides important services in a lot of places…but I haven’t looked at the financials.  Certainly a much lower number than the 2007 acquisition of the Dog for $3.6 billion.

So, what should FlixMobility do with this property in the current market, economic, and technology environment?

Fixing Something

David Foster put up a post linking a site that tracks global ocean freight (and other boats). The ensuing comments were interesting and far ranging. I had started to type this as a comment but it got too long.

The comments for the most part brought up issues with supply chain, a world I am intimately familiar with. We are struggling right now with a massive surplus of inventory at my industrial distribution business. While that sounds like a simple problem to fix (sell it down, duh) it isn’t that easy. Everyone in my industry is hoarding inventory right now – its the new model. Pre Covid, we had patterns that were as old as time. In Spring, we do “this”, in Summer we need to order “these” and so on. Of course manufacturers do the same, and up the supply chain.

With Covid, those patterns are completely blasted out into space, and rather than a nice sine wave looking thing for our inventory, we have severe spikes where we see nothing, or a years worth of product showing up at a time. We don’t dare cancel orders for fear of going to the back of the line. Companies are full now of more and more inept and incompetent people, and good information is very hard to find. When you find a person who is in the know, that in itself is a super valuable thing to have.

Back to the comments of David Foster’s post. Most of them dealt with a part of the supply chain. Last weeks super stupid pronouncements by the Biden administration proved how little thinking and forethought they have. The supply chain problem didn’t happen overnight and their solutions seem to portray that it will be fixed overnight, and we all laugh, of course. I saw something about opening the ports 24/7, having Walmart and Target do something and some more blah blah. Laughable. As if Mayor Pete knows the first thing about transportation. I digress a bit.

When faced with a big problem in my business, or my life for that matter, I break it down into parts and try to tackle the different parts to eventually solve the problem as a whole. You simply can’t take an issue like “Supply Chain”, and make a few pronouncements and make it all better. With an enormous, multi-faceted problem such as the one we are in right now, the solution needs to be comprehensive and flexible. We currently have none of the above and I expect more of that for the future.

The War Against the Middle Class

It’s one of those things of which I was mildly aware for decades, mostly through the medium of novels with an English setting … but now it has become painfully and bitterly obvious that there is an American class system, and in it’s present incarnation, malignant. We had always prided ourselves on being relatively class/caste fluid, a place where one might go from rags to riches through striking it rich, developing a better mousetrap, investing cannily, and still be on the same social level as ‘old money’. This new divide is bitter, hostile, and possibly lethal. It’s the social and political authoritarians, who crave power over the rest of us, pitted against the working and middle classes – those who have a degree of control over our own lives, enough income to be at least tenuously comfortable, the leisure and energy to take part in public matters, even if only in a small way. The middle class have the effrontery to believe that yes, we ought to be able to control our own lives, rather than have every aspect controlled by the authoritarians.

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