When was the last time you really took a hard look at a wood utility pole? There’s a good chance you never have, despite the fact that they’re everywhere. It’s estimated that there are over 150 million poles in use in the United States today— nearly one utility pole for every two people. Despite their prevalence amongst us, no one is thinking about things like: How long has that pole been there? How long will it stay there? Where did it come from, and where is it going?
Though the common wood utility pole may not be a topic of interest for many, may be forgotten or simply taken for granted, the job of the innovator is to think about the questions that others don’t ask, and hopefully develop solutions that answer them. Founded on the basis of innovation in the treatment of wood, this is just what Cox Industries has done in this specific industry.
In his new book, Transforming the Utility Pole: Using Innovation to Disrupt Commodity Markets and Fuel Sustainable Business, Barry Breede seeks to provide readers with a proven process of effective disruptive innovation that Cox had continually implemented that is not only applicable in the commodity/utility industry, but for all businesses looking to improve and innovate.
“In commodity industries, innovation can serve as a brand differentiator and a market disruptor,” says, Breede. “Companies in these markets don’t have to participate in the race to the bottom on prices; positioning yourself as having the most cutting-edge business model in your sector can attract and attach buyers to you even more effectively.”