A debut book examines a company that, despite a ubiquitous product line, remains hidden from public view.
Except for its business customers, it is likely millions of people whose lives are touched by Whitford Worldwide are unaware of the company. But the 50-year-old industrial manufacturer’s fluoropolymer coatings are used on products around the globe, from frying pans and automobile engines to athletic socks. While this volume is essentially a largely flattering corporate profile funded by the company, it is still an engaging story that demonstrates how to triumph in a competitive technical market. Early on, Tedeschi involves the reader: “As you walk from room to room in your house, Whitford is the silent partner in your daily routine,” a claim not overstated, since the company’s coatings are found on numerous consumer products. Remarkably, Whitford employs fewer than 700 workers to manufacture some 9,000 individual products, many of which are customized to the specific needs of customers. This level of complexity alone makes for a unique extended case study. The company has even managed to compete in both industrial and consumer sectors with the likes of the giant corporation DuPont. Embedded in the intriguing, if subjective, book are some of the key reasons for the company’s success, characterized by the author as the “Whitford Way.” Among them are a drive to continuously innovate, highly personalized customer service, and a flat organization with individual contributors and no vice presidents. Tedeschi uses anecdotes, examples, and quotes to keep the narrative moving along, though some of the technical details are dry. But perhaps the most captivating aspect of the work is simply the incredible range of Whitford’s products and its ability to meet such a wide variety of needs. An Epilogue appended by company co-founder David P. Willis is also of particular interest; here, Willis details the “unconventional points of view” that have helped formulate the Whitford Way. Aspiring entrepreneurs as well as business leaders would do well to consider his thoughts.
Could be viewed by some as puffery but a corporate story well-told and not without substance.