Miss Management: Your enjoyment is anticipated, and will be enforced (part 2)
November 23, 2009 | Galynn Nordstrom
This afternoon I received a press release from The Wagner Companies in Butler, Wisc., announcing the availability of their latest product: “Festivus in a Box™,” inspired by a December 1997 episode of “Seinfeld” in which the character Frank Costanza invented the Festivus holiday for “the rest of us.” According to Mr. Costanza, the Festivus tradition begins with a bare aluminum pole, which he praises for its “very high strength-to-weight ratio.” The unadorned pole is displayed in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, and because Costanza “finds tinsel distracting.”
The Wagner Companies has been in the metal business since 1850, manufacturing handrail fittings and metal products for architectural and industrial applications. The company first began producing full-size and table-top Festivus Poles® in 2005, and has since sold more than 5,000 of them. “Festivus in a Box” includes a 7/8-inch diameter, 8.5-inch long aluminum mini Festivus Pole with collapsible base, six Festivus post cards, an “Airing of Grievances” form and a copy of Allen Salkin’s book, “Festivus, The Holiday for the Rest of Us.”
I can’t say from personal experience whether The Wagner Companies’ internal operations and culture are congruent with this lighthearted product and humorous press release, but reading about it certainly brightened a cold, grey, chocolateless Friday afternoon in Roseville, Minnesota. I suspect that this is one organization without a morale problem—and with the creativity and flexibility needed to weather any number of recessions.
What is now the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) began operations in 1912, so we’re veritable youngsters compared to The Wagner Companies; but we’ve also weathered a lot of economic upheavals. No, I haven’t been here for all of them. But I may be adding a Festivus kit to our post-recessionary revels this holiday season.