Fourteen members of the American Farriers Journal staff spent a day early this week planning the coming year and looking at ways we can better serve our readers in 2015. During the day prior to this strategic meeting, we spent an afternoon with the folks at Nordic Forge in Guttenberg, Iowa.

The Peterson family gave us a tour of their manufacturing and operation facility. I think farriers could gain an even greater appreciation for the tools that make their jobs easier by seeing how they are made.

Also during this afternoon, Jim Peterson and his son Erikk took time to answer questions and share their insight on the farrier industry. To no surprise, they shared how critical farrier feedback is in managing their business. In terms of their business operation and direction, Erikk Peterson says it is everything.

Regardless of the business, gaining insight from your customers is a crucial component, but how does one weight that? For instance, a footcare manufacturer may receive feedback from a few individuals about a horseshoe. The critique could address the shoe shape, nail hole placement, number of nail holes and so on.

A farrier takes feedback from the rider, trainer, veterinarian, groom and so on. That information is then digested and incorporated into the footcare strategy.

Or maybe not. For both the manufacturer and farrier, some of the information is important, but other information or direction may not make sense to incorporate. If a handful of individuals have a shoe critique, should the manufacturer change a design or spend tens of thousand of dollars to introduce a modified version to the market? Likewise input from a rider may be expressed as something in relation to the foot or limb, but the farrier’s knowledge and experience tells otherwise.

It is important for both the manufacturer and farrier to show that they listen. Not all information will prove valuable, but any business owner must make that customer feel like their opinion is heard. After all, as the younger Peterson states, it is everything.