E12: What About the Vermin Problem? with Peter Christian

Feb 27, 2020


Is your business succeeding or failing? Somewhere in between?

If you’re struggling to answer that question, Peter Christian’s debut book can help. In What About the Vermin Problem?, Christian shares the good, bad, and ugly business practices that he’s witnessed over his long career as a consultant and leader for companies like Crayola®️.

We cover a lot of ground in this week’s episode, including:

  • [00:21] The most important policies and procedures to have in place from the beginning of your company
  • [00:50] The main difference, from Christian’s perspective, between a startup and an established company
  • [02:50] The number one systems implementation issue companies face
  • [04:30] What makes information systems difficult and how the right disciplines can protect you from pain.
  • [06:30] How consultants help you understand readiness for new initiatives and projects
  • [08:00] Understanding business tools versus personal needs and how the human element matters for good optimizations
  • [09:23] Mitigating risk by knowing what we don’t want or need to do in our work
  • [12:10] How Christian helped one foodservice company save 15 million dollars on a new facility by optimizing the existing resources
  • [19:10] The danger of using people to solve systems problems and what to do instead
  • [23:30] How thinking about sunsetting products or services is critical to your planning process
  • [27:14] Communicating differences of opinion in a way that makes your business stronger
  • [29:51] Where the title, What About the Vermin Problem?, came from and how it relates to good communication
  • [32:20] What it means when you continually don’t get what you want at the end of a project (Perhaps the most important part of the whole conversation).
  • [34:04] Peter and Renia go wayyy deep and nerdy on the importance and power of strategic planning.
  • [37:50] Why consultants can be dangerous if you don’t know where you’re going
  • [40:54] Anticipating industry changes and evolutions that require adaptation
  • [43:28] What Peter learned from leading production at Crayola®️ about forecasting for future circumstances
  • [48:00] The danger of growth and holding large amounts of inventory
  • [50:40] Where to begin, when you don’t know what you don’t know
  • [52:54] What the best consultants do, that isn’t so common
  • [57:45] Peter’s hopes for what you will learn by reading this book


How to connect with Peter Christian


About Peter Christian

Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of Enterprise Systems Partners Inc. (espi), a prominent business consulting company in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. He has worked with more than 300 clients throughout the United States in the areas of manufacturing improvements, information system selection and implementation, and project and product management.

Prior to espi, Peter was an executive director at Crayola Corporation. He held director’s positions in engineering, quality, operations, and research and development, and played an instrumental part in the company’s 15-year growth of 700%.

Peter’s more than 40 years of corporate experience and knowledge includes a track record of accomplishments in operational strategic planning, continuous improvement, lean manufacturing, facility planning, and supply chain. Through his efforts, companies have collectively realized millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements while adding and retaining thousands of jobs.

Peter holds a B.S. in industrial engineering from Rutgers University and an M.S. in industrial engineering from Lehigh University. He is a certified Jonah with the Goldratt Institute and in senior project management with the AMA. He has been a guest lecturer at Lehigh University’s Industrial and Systems Engineering Department and an adjunct instructor at Northampton County Community College. He has been published in IIE magazine, Industrial Management magazine, the Packaging Journal, the ASQC Journal, IIE Solutions, and Consulting magazine.

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Small Stage, Big Impact is hosted by Renia Carsillo (that's me!). I am hardcore passionate and committed to bringing the systems and strategies that give big brands an unfair advantage to local businesses. For that reason, I created the Local Rock Star Intensive, where I help local business owners use their small stage to have a BIG impact. Thank you for being here and reading this far!