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Slings and Arrows - Commentary

The name of the game is adapting


I am in the process of listening to a series of podcasts called “Business Wars.”

Business Wars has several “seasons” under its belt – a season being defined as four-six episodes on a particular topic.

I have always thought of myself more as a journalist than a businessman, but as the owner of this newspaper I have to wear both hats.

Competition is the life of the American economy — it is responsible for innumerable advances in technology and service. And it is often the business that has humble beginnings that takes a better idea and goes on to rule a segment of a market.

The first Business Wars season was dedicated to Blockbuster vs. Netflix. Anyone old enough to remember having to rewind VHS tapes will recall that, at one time, Blockbuster ruled the video rental business.

But then along came this little upstart, Netflix, with a better idea. At the time, and this was before streaming, Netflix had the idea of renting DVDs through the mail. They set up a website and anyone could log on, pick out the movie they wanted to rent, and usually it would be in their mailbox the next day — along with a post-paid mailer to send it back.

By the time Blockbuster found out what was going on, they were playing “catch-up,” and that got even worse for them when Netflix became one of the pioneers of delivering streaming video.

Season after season on Business Wars, you hear the story of upstart companies that end up challenging market leaders — and often winning.

I feel we were one of those upstart companies back in the mid-1990s. Our main competitor in Parker County had several times more circulation than we did. Over the years we survived all kinds of competitive tactics, to the extent that they even started a free newspaper in Aledo, but what they have to show for it is that The Community News is now the county’s largest-circulation newspaper.

But that doesn’t mean we can keep doing the same thing the same way and flourish. The world is changing, and I used to think “survival of the fittest” meant “survival of the strongest.”

Not so. “Survival of the fittest” means “survival of the most adaptable.”

A lot of big companies with multi-million-dollar CEOs never learned that.

Randy Keck will soon celebrate 28 years as owner and publisher of The Community News.


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