Our weekly thoughts and general ramblings about everything related to business – from industries and investments to management and operations.

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Weekly Thoughts: Building a Phoenix

Here is something that caught our eye this week: Building a Phoenix At Chenmark, we aim to own and help support the management of companies that have consistent, durable earnings power.  We focus much of our energy thinking about ways to protect and grow that earnings power, and spend hardly any time thinking about an exit strategy.  While some consider this approach naive – we’ve been told “it’s all about the exit”many times – we see countless benefits associated with an indefinite holding period and spent time this week reading about companies which have endured the test of time – some for multiple centuries. Unfortunately, the first takeaway seems

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Weekly Thoughts: Growing Beans

Here is something that caught our eye this week: Growing Beans Since some of our readers may not be as up to speed on headlines dominating the Maine news, we thought we’d share our thoughts on a recent policy change from our iconic hometown retailer, L.L. Bean.  For the past 106 years until just last week, L.L. Bean provided a lifetime – yes, lifetime – no-questions-asked guarantee on all of its products.  Business Insider explained just how accommodating the policy had been by testing it themselves: “A Business Insider reporter put the policy to the test last year by returning four-year-old shoes with broken stitching.  He recounts

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Weekly Thoughts: Fat or Strong?

Here is something that caught our eye this week: Fat or Strong? As we kick off the New Year, our portfolio companies are beginning to execute on their 2018 strategic plans, which, as one might expect, focus in part on various growth opportunities. From a traditional financial perspective, growth is always good, and more growth is "more good," period. Given our experience owning and supporting the operations of small businesses at Chenmark, our perspective has become more nuanced. We have come to realize that growth can be fickle – it can provide tremendous rewards, but if managed imprudently, can destroy

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Weekly Thoughts: Growth Capex

Here is something that caught our eye this week: Growth Capex As we approach our year-end budgeting and strategic planning sessions, a key question is how much we should plan to spend on capital expenditures. The prudent long-term oriented business owner must first budget for spending to sustain run-rate operations or risk facing ever-increasing catch-up maintenance expenses at some point in the future. In addition to responsible maintenance capex budgeting, one must think about allocating funds toward whatever strategic growth plans have been formulated (in econ textbook jargon, the amount of investment in excess of depreciation). While we have generally

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