NTH (Hi Nathan) brings up a good point.
As a former customer of both McMaster-Carr and Fastenal, there were reasons why I would choose to go to one over the other. McMaster typically delivers the next day, and was perfect for when time wasn’t the most critical issue. They also had a much wider selection than Fastenal. Their phone support staff was always very knowledgable, but sometimes describing the problem I was trying to solve was difficult to accomplish via phone, and sometimes I needed parts on the same day.
In those instances, I went to Fastenal. Their staff was also very knowledgeable, but the in-person interaction gave them a much clearer idea of what I was trying to accomplish and in almost every case, they had the fastener I needed.
Great post! Even though the burrito “assembly” process is broken down into the smallest of tasks, I think it’s worth noting this well-developed process extends to the back end as well. Replenishing the ingredients before they run out reminds me a lot of the Toyota case, where suppliers were dropping off raw materials and subassemblies just minutes before they were needed on the line. In this case it’s the kitchen that is performing the just-in-time delivery of raw materials (like tortillas), and subassemblies (like salsa).
Great post – now I’m thirsty.
Similar to other commenters, I’m curious as to what you think about The Alchemist’s prospects. Is it a labor of love, or could it be a sustainable business? I know that I for one would love to have greater access to Heady Topper, but I don’t know how much of the perceived quality is just due to the scarcity. You are absolutely right in saying that organic growth is right choice for The Alchemist, but at what point with the mystique that surrounds Heady Topper disappear, and how much of sales are attributable to the mystique?