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When November and the holiday season rolls around - people often try to take a breath and think about what we are – or at least should be - thankful for!   We all talk about all that we are thankful for at holiday family gatherings where we share favorite family recipes – from Turkey and Stuffing to Coconut Rice and Ratatouille.  At the end of this blog is my absolute favorite banana bread recipe – I experimented with at least 15 different recipes before settling on the “winner”.  This recipe led to the now infamous family story of how banana bread can change the family dynamic!  More on that later….

Just as there are key ingredients to a successful family holiday meal – there are also very similar key ingredients to a successful Mill Products business!    Here are my top 5.

  1. Working equipment – dinner won’t get made on time if the oven doesn’t workHBIS Tangshan Iron and Steel knows a thing or two about keeping equipment up and running, and I was thankful to learn how SAP’s software helped them to better manage equipment, materials and budgets - resulting in fewer spare parts and lower maintenance and overhaul costs.

  2. Efficiency/coordinated processes.  If your family is like mine, getting everyone organized to get all the dishes ready and have everyone at the table at the same time can be similar to herding cats – it takes a lot of organization and planning!  In a similar way, running an aluminum company can require a lot of coordination.  I was thankful this year to learn how Novelis, Inc. worked with SAP to ensure flexible processes, replace multiple IT systems, unify business processes and data, and improve efficiency across its organization. Listen to the story NovelisVideo (4th link from top).

  3. Effective Transportation – dinner guest must all arrive on time with their promised side dishes!  They have to plan when and where to purchase quality eggs and sugar, when to make the pumpkin pie so that it will still be fresh and when to pick up Aunt Joyce in order to show up exactly when Grandma expects you for dinner.  Similarly - customers of Mill Products companies expect the same – that exactly what they ordered will arrive on time. See how  WoodgrainMillwork is becoming an expert at this – recently implementing SAP solutions that will improve their customer service – while driving a 15%
    reduction in freight spend and significant reductions in supply chain and inventory carrying costs!

  4. Meaningful conversations – reminiscing about past family football games, asking about Aunt Betty’s operation, planning future gatherings – are all part of a great holiday experience.  Similarly, Mill Products companies that know their customer’s business in detail will be able to have meaningful communications that drive analysis, innovation – and more profitable business!    I know Mohawk Carpet customers are thankful about their use of SAP solutions for CRM and mobility because they say “Mohawk knows me better.”

  5. Satisfied customers – The day after a festive holiday gathering– when most of us should be breaking out the weights and running shoes– we think about…. Was the gathering successful? Did people have fun? Was the food amazing? What can be improved? Similarly - in Mill Products businesses it is also useful to analyze the business – and in particular; How is the business going? Are customers happy?  What can we do to improve?  I was thankful to hear   ThyssenKrupp Steel USA (5th link from top) talk about how they are using SAP HANA and Big Data advanced analytics to  realize measurable gains in customer satisfaction and employee productivity.

And one last “ingredient”...  to a successful family gathering….Delicious most banana bread…..

Allow me explain ….. three years ago at a big family dinner we were going around the table having everyone reflect on what they were thankful for.  The first few adults gave the typical sentimental, yet somewhat tiring and “really not very creative” answer about family, health, etc.  But then it came to my 11 year old nephew, Elliot.  He thought for a long second … then enthusiastically yelled out “Aunt Jen’s Banana Bread!”  After that – every other kid in that room ardently followed suit and mentioned the banana bread as the one topic in their world they were most thankful for.  To this day I cannot show up to any family gathering without several loaves of the wondrous banana bread – and though perhaps that year we missed out on some additional nuggets from the heart - we now have a classic story to retell every year.

Enjoy this recipe – it does not fail to please!

Extra Moist Banana Bread


  • 3 cups flour

  • 1 t each of baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups canola, sunflower or vegetable oil

  • 1 8oz can crushed pineapple, un-drained

  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (6-8).  We freeze bananas once they are brown and no one will eat them – these are perfect for banana bread!  Microwave until they are soft then peel off the skin and mash.

  • ½ package mini chocolate chips


Heat the oven to 350°F.  Combine dry ingredients, add remaining ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon only until well blended.  Pour into two greased/floured loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55-70 minutes.  Look at the bread starting at 55 minutes and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the top is golden brown, and the bread is pulling away from the sides of the pan.  Actual cooking times vary depending on your oven and the pan.

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