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Know Your Limits

Is bigger always better? No way.

There are some distinct advantages to not being the biggest player in the market. "We'd rather be the best than the biggest," says Rodney S. Belden, president of O.E. Meyer Co. in Sandusky, Ohio. The 115-employee company supplies oxygen-related products to the welding supply and health-care markets and, with annual sales of $25 million, competes successfully against much larger companies.

What's more important than size, Belden believes, is a company's ability to serve its customers and make a profit. Often, staying small makes it easier to manage your business, react to market fluctuations and focus on the bottom line. You can be a respected leader in a market without being a giant, Belden says.

"The success of any company depends on planning, and, in our case, a key part of planning is having qualified people," he says. "If we don't have the employees to fill the jobs, we won't pursue those markets."

Of course, growth is part of the O.E. Meyer plan, but, Belden explains, "Our growth is balanced, and it comes from providing good service and having a good reputation."

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Know Your Limits.

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