One of the reasons this industry has remained so competitive, and made such monumental gains in efficiency, is its internal focus. Essentially we compete with ourselves, benchmarking our progress and results against others in the industry. While I don't advocate thinking of your neighbors and friends as competition in the classical business sense, I wonder if we aren't all a little guilty of merely managing our operations instead of thinking of them in a classical business sense.
In a free-market economy, every business is ultimately in a battle for its very survival. With relatively good prices and financial returns the last couple of years, it's easy to get complacent in terms of trying to dramatically add quality to our product, raise our efficiency level, or enhance how we market our production and service our customers.
Our competition probably isn't our fellow cattlemen. In fact, we need them to succeed. But when times are good, it's easy to forget we are literally engaged in a fierce competition with competing proteins and countries around the world. It is a game of hardball.
-- Troy Marshall