Andrew McCoy

Freelance Writer

Andrew McCoy is an associate professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech. Contact him at

Articles by Andrew McCoy

April 2012
“Companies must put their people—not their customers—first,” writes Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of an international travel management company, in his 1992 classic book, “The Customer Comes Second.” At first glance, these words read like heresy against the great body of advertising that, for decades, has ostensibly made a religion out of the primacy of customers and their every concern. READ MORE
February 2012
Mike, an anonymous electrical contractor, is almost to the point where he can laugh about an incident that occurred last summer. However, right after it happened, it felt as though he relived his initial frustration each time the subject came up. READ MORE
December 2011
A good-looking set of year-end financial statements can be a source of pride for an electrical contracting firm. It’s too bad that even the best of those neatly bound booklets blessed by CPAs fail to contain critical indications of where the business may really be headed. READ MORE
October 2011
Two technology entrepreneurs in 1940s Palo Alto, Calif., pioneered a wide-open approach to running their rapidly rising business that became a de facto trademark of its operating style and a darling concept among management gurus. READ MORE
August 2011
Even for the famously entrepreneurial and highly creative Howard Schultz, it was a radical idea. Tough times needed tough measures, though. On Feb. 26, 2008, at precisely 5:30 p.m., Schultz—who re-entered Starbucks as chief executive officer that year to revitalize it—instructed staff to politely escort every one of its (millions of) customers out of the stores. Then, all 7,000 Starbucks’ U.S. READ MORE
June 2011
Anyone who has attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony knows what they are about to hear when local government officials head for the microphone. Two phrases, “on time” and “on budget,” often reverberate, and those with project or industry knowledge might wince, as the speaker enthusiastically praises everyone who completed the monumental public project. Often, unfortunately, neither term is accurate. READ MORE
April 2011
Vilfredo Pareto loved to garden. One day he realized that 80 percent of the peas from his patch came from 20 percent of the pea pods. That proportion matched the ratio that he had already uncovered elsewhere in his investigations as the economist who gave the world the 80/20 rule. READ MORE
February 2011
In a recent keynote address, Robert Catell, chairman of the New York State Smart Grid Consortium, characterized the state of the electric grid in a way that he knew his audience could understand. He imagined what would happen if two famous inventors came back to life to view the legacy of their original creations. READ MORE