Old Colony Memorial

June 2008

They've Kept It Simple
By Kathryn Koch

When looking into companies that have shown consistently high levels of growth for at least three consecutive years to feature in his latest book, Jim Champy found just what he was looking for in SmartPak, right here in Plymouth. Champy’s book Outsmart! How to do What Your Competitors Can’t features the stories of eight businesses, including SmartPak, owned by the husband and wife team of Paal Gisholt and Becky Minard.

In a chapter titled "Compete by Simplifying Complexity," Champy reviews how Gisholt and Minard created a method for distributing and delivering supplements and medications to horse barns in response to difficulties Minard experienced getting prescribed supplements for her horse, Westley.

Gisholt said Champy’s research team conducted a broad survey of companies, and he’s honored that Champy chose to feature SmartPak and its story of how information technology (IT) gives them a competitive advantage and how showing faith in their employees helps build a successful team responsive to customers’ needs.

Gisholt said he thinks Champy was right on the money with his assessment of their company.

"I think he worked really hard to understand some of the nuances that make our business work," Gisholt said.

Gisholt describes Champy as an out-of-the-box thinker. He’s the author of Reengineering the Corporation, a New York Times best seller that’s a classic in the business world. He said he and Becky are honored to be featured in his latest book and that Champy took a shine to their business model.

"We were really quite honored and very excited and thankful to be considered," he said.

The SmartPak owners’ business model promotes collaboration among suppliers, vendors, customers and employees, Gisholt said. The model has impressed Champy, the chairman of Perot Systems’ consulting practice and the company’s head of strategy. Champy describes SmartPak’s strategy as exceptional in his book.

Champy, who grew up in Lawrence and lives in Boston, writes that Gisholt and Minard found a way to build a thriving business by keeping it simple. In the opening of the chapter on SmartPak, Champy writes, "This chapter features an enterprise that taught me a great deal about simplification. It’s built on a down-to-earth technique for taking the complexity out of caring for four-legged creatures and easing the minds of the people who love them."

While Champy’s book describes SmartPak as a $40 million company, Gisholt said the nationally licensed pharmacy has grown to become a $50 million business. SmartPak continues to show consistently high levels of growth, and since its creation has expanded into the dog supplement business. There are no plans yet to offer the same service for humans.

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