Founder of global marketing information services firm J.D. Power, James Power built a business selling auto companies something they initially didn’t want: their customers’ opinions.

After graduating with an MBA in marketing, he started at Ford before taking a job at the research arm of advertising agency McCann Erickson.

Power was then offered a job by lawn mower and tractor manufacturer McCulloch Corp as director of corporate planning. He gave up this job to start J.D. Power and Associates with three friends. Using the money McCulloch Corp was continuing to pay him (for two years he received his full salary in exchange for working five days a month), Power continued to use his flair for spotting trends in data and built a business on accurate market research – mainly on consumer opinions – across a variety of industries.

Key achievements

  1. J.D. Power was the first company to do independent research studies on the auto industry
  2. Selling subscriptions to reports that, by the 1990s, every car manufacturer had to subscribe to
  3. Developed J.D. Power Awards

Lessons for your store

  1. Be accessible to employees – Mr Power would talk to anyone working later than 5pm to find out why, and what he could do to help.
  2. Hold internal focus groups – Power held frequent employee meetings, with a mixture of people from all levels, where anyone had the freedom to voice their opinions.
  3. Hire problem solvers – whatever the job was, Power didn’t just want experts, but people with intellectual curiosity who wanted to solve problems.