GO
Loading...

Mike on America

  Friday, 11 Jan 2008 | 1:56 PM ET

The Greatest Show On Four Wheels

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
From where I'm standing right now there must be 150 workers pounding or moving or sawing something. It is a symphony of construction that has been over 100 days in the making. The fate of some presidencies is settled in less time that it takes to build this thing. »Read more
  Wednesday, 9 Jan 2008 | 11:02 AM ET

A Grande Non-Fat Vanilla Latte And Clean Bathrooms

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
I'm standing in line at the Starbucks at the Jackson-Evers International Airport in Jackson, Mississippi. I can see the newsstand from here, and sure enough there's a little blurb about Howard Schultz taking over the CEO spot at the 'Bucks. »Read more
  Monday, 7 Jan 2008 | 11:04 AM ET

View From Big Jim's (Barack, MLK And Bobby Kennedy)

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
"MLK??!!? MLK?!?!? Hey man, this guy is no Martin." So says the guy a couple of tables over. He's responding to another fella here at Big Jim's off Highway 253 in Southern Georgia who has just compared Barack Obama to Dr. King and Robert Kennedy. »Read more
  Friday, 4 Jan 2008 | 10:36 AM ET

Life On The Pine Hill Plantation

Posted By: Mike Hegedus

This is new copy

this is more new copy


»Read more
  Wednesday, 2 Jan 2008 | 2:04 PM ET

My New Year's Resolutions: One Is Ask For Directions!

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
We are back on the road, the 'Mike On America' crew and I, rolling down Highway 75 in Georgia. And with 2008 just breathing it's first fresh air, it's only fitting that we partake in a time worn ritual---New Year's Resolutions. »Read more
  Wednesday, 26 Dec 2007 | 4:08 PM ET

Housing Improves (In a Small Way)

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
That garage door I told you a couple of weeks ago is finally fixed!!! It took a month, and the part had to come from the "east coast" -- Ohio. But hey, it's in and it's up -- and the "Mike On America" bus is parked inside. See you in a week. »Read more
  Monday, 24 Dec 2007 | 10:33 AM ET

Do Not Open 'Til Christmas (At 9am ET)

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
It's all done: my Christmas shopping for you. You'll get your presents on Christmas morning at 9am ET, on CNBC. A full hour of "Mike On America" will be on display. Read more to see what's coming in the brightly wrapped package. »Read more
  Friday, 21 Dec 2007 | 3:09 PM ET

For a Better Log Cabin, Use -- Concrete?!

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
As you drive up the road it looks like one. When you walk up the driveway it looks like one. When you're standing right next to it, it looks like one. It has all the earmarks of a "real" log home. Except it's not. It's made out of concrete. »Read more
  Wednesday, 19 Dec 2007 | 10:28 AM ET

Sex, Drugs, Rock N' Roll: The Perfect Business Model?

Posted By: Mike Hegedus
It sounds a little like an angry bee. The tattoo needle doing it's job. The job it's doing right now is on a young women's butt, "freshening up" a couple of cherries. Nice work. And so are the tattoos. The name of the place is Vince Neil Ink, and for rock and roll aficionados, it is "that" Vince Neil, lead singer for 80's rock mega band, Motley Crue. »Read more
  Monday, 17 Dec 2007 | 2:46 PM ET

Ho, Ho, Ho, Making Millions In Merriment

Posted By: Mike Hegedus

"Oh, it's the world's largest, there is no doubt about that." The man saying that is wearing a red sport coat and leading you through a maze of custom made Christmas ornaments, past a literal forest of artificial trees, and in through the back of the store. "Store" probably is not the right term. "Wally's World" might be a better way of describing it.

"Well, it goes back to 1945 and my father originated it. His name was Wally, he was a sign painter, and he had no idea this would ever become a Christmas store."

Let alone the world's largest Christmas store. Welcome to the outskirts of Frankenmuth, Michigan, home to Bronner's Christmas Wonderland.

"This is really sort of an Andy Griffith kind of town, the place everyone wants to live," so says our guide, Wayne Bronner. He is Wally's son, and the current CEO of Bronner's.

How big you want to know? There are 320,000 square feet of retail space on seven and a half acres. Two million people walk through the doors annually, and there are over 50,000 items in stock at all times. And that's just the beginning.

"We mail out 3 and a half million of those babies with different covers we put on there to keep it looking fresh." Bronner is talking about his catalog business. They also have a very heavily trafficked website, and a large commercial business. They provide Christmas decorations for cities and towns and malls all over the country.

"Did I tell you about the movies?" he asks. Oh yes, movies. Thirty or forty movies on Bronner's credits these days, including the latest Will Smith offering. Set decorators from every major studio know that if they want to make it look like Christmas in July on the set they can call Bronner's. They are open 361 days a year.

They have over 650 people working during the height of the holiday season, personalizing everything from ornaments to Christmas stockings. And when you're done with the tour what strikes you is that these folks could be selling anything.

They have developed a vertically integrated, fully functional, lean manufacturing, import-export business of the first magnitude. It just so happens that when Wayne Bronner painted his first Christmas sign that he set his family down the road to success. That one sign grew into 20 and signs grew into decor for towns. Decor for towns grew into decor for the home. And over 60 years later, here we are.

"It was hard work, but it was fun. It has all worked out. You see, no matter what, Christmas always comes round once a year." Wayne is smiling like Santa.

Complete Christmas villages are over in Section 7. Ho ho ho.

"MOA" is in San Diego this week, and speaking of Christmas, at 9 am eastern time on Christmas day, a special 'Mike On America' hour long show. Sip your eggnog and travel around the country without even leaving your tree behind. On Dancer!!

Questions? Comments? mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com

»Read more