Breakfast at Midway: A Lean Marketing Journey


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 Through the engaging story of embattled sales manager Robert Adams, John demonstrates how the Lean techniques that have revolutionized manufacturing can be applied to industrial sales and marketing. 

Paperback, 276 pages

Why is this book no longer available? 

The author no longer sells this book because the content, which was written before the wide-scale adoption of social media as a marketing platform, is now dated and does not represent current best practices in marketing.    


Ask what the greatest point of need for improvement is and start from there. - Taiichi Ohno 


 The woman seated across the aisle from me works a crossword puzzle in the Charlotte Observer. Oblivious to the two dozen travelers seated around her, she mumbles at a barely audible level – five letter word for red fruit – looks absently toward the ceiling as if for divine inspiration, gets that Eureka! look and begins filling in the tiny squares with a black Waterman pen. The smells of frying bacon, jet fuel and strong coffee hang in the heavy, re-circulated air.  

Gate A5 of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport is situated directly across the corridor from a restaurant that doesn’t open for business until 6:30 A.M., but begins cooking bacon around 5:30 A.M. This is a trivial piece of information, unless you have a 6:20 A.M. flight, as I do, and are tortured by the alluring odor, knowing full-well that you will be sitting on the runway when the OPEN light comes on. I take another sip of my Starbucks coffee and check my watch. Five forty-five. The twentysomething MidAmerican Airlines gate agent will be calling boarding soon – within the next five minutes if form holds. It will be a light load heading to Chicago this late October morning. The 737-800 in one class configuration holds 189, and it is unlikely that more than a third of those seats will be filled this morning. Good for me, bad for the airline.  

My name is Robert Adams, and I am sales and marketing manager for Alliance Rubber, a small manufacturer of molded rubber seals and components, based near Charlotte, North Carolina. In my two years with the company, I have logged 565,000 air miles, 210 overnight hotel stays and one slightly wrecked rental car.  

The agent, who I have come to recognize as Cheryl, toggles the microphone switch and begins her rote boarding procedure. After two years of taking this flight at least three times each month, I could probably make the announcement for her, “MidAmerican Airlines flight 325 to Chicago… blah… blah… blah. We will board starting from the back. Passengers traveling with small children and passengers needing extra assistance may board at this time. We will be boarding rows 15-25 shortly.” No takers on the small children or extra assistance; not surprising, since no one in their right mind would take children on a 6:20 flight. I am in seat 5A, so I know I will be among the last to board and am in no hurry to collect my carry-on bags and move toward the line that has now formed out past the check-in counter and out into the corridor.  

Inside the plane, the smells shift subtly, the bacon replaced with the organic, earthy smell of leather. On the flip-down video monitors, Tony Bennett croons “Steppin’ Out with My Baby,” as I stow my bag in the overhead bin and settle myself into the window seat. Since the plane is less than half full, I am certain that no one will be seated right next to me in seat 5B, but it is possible that someone will take the aisle seat. The stream of travelers trickles to a stop and I am delighted that I’ll be “flying solo” today, no seatmate. The truth is, after dozens of MidAmerican flights I have developed my own little rituals, and exchanging early morning pleasantries with a stock broker from Springfield or a dentist from Rockford isn't one of the more enjoyable ones. Tony Bennett fades away and the monitors switch over to the pre-flight video as we taxi out to the runway. It is an overcast morning, cool by Carolina standards for October. A couple of commuter planes take off and a 757 – probably on the tail end of a red-eye from Las Vegas or San Francisco – lands in front of us. Then it is our turn. The dual turbofan engines roar as the pilot releases the brakes and the Boeing slings down the runway, lifting smoothly into the misty dawn air.  

Breaking through the cloud layer at 10,000 feet, we emerge into a world of red, orange, pink and purple, the newly risen sun to our right and the Windy City 773 miles dead ahead. I plug my headphones into the seat-arm jack and recline my seat a few inches. The music on the in-flight entertainment system this morning is a selection of “scary Halloween classics,” and within minutes I am asleep to the haunting strains of “A Night on Bald Mountain.”