Can a well established company learn new tricks?
With the right kind of management, ‘old’ or well established companies can be as vital and entrepreneurial as a new company just entering the marketplace.
In 2005, Menasha Packaging Company (MPC) in Neenah, Wisconsin – part of the $1 billion, 160-year-old Menasha Corporation – was not doing well. As the largest, and original, business in Menasha Corporation, it was a niche player in a commodity-based market without the economies of scale and scope to compete with the ‘big guys’.
Team leader and family member, Mike Waite, did the unthinkable: he and his new leadership team embarked on the creation of a plan (what some called a ‘blue ocean’ vision) to move the company away from commodities toward value-based products and services.
The planning process to achieve this began in 2005 by looking at market trends, current business lines, existing customers (and their customers’ customers). One of the critical data-gathering activities was interviewing customers to understand their issues and concerns; this created a relationship between MPC and its customers. Waite, its president, and others met with customers (current, prospect, and even lost customers) to attune the new MPC to the ‘voice of the customer’. This closer-than-ever relationship with customers allowed MPC to evolve products and services that were innovative – and in demand.
The gamble paid off. While the bigger integrated firms had been dismissing them, MPC became a formidable competitor. Instead of just taking market share, it created new solutions in new markets. Profits in the year 2008, despite the severe recession, were tremendous for MPC. Their new product and service offerings not only helped them weather, but grow, through the economic crisis. In fact, 2009, was another growth year; and the company is expecting profits in the double digits for the 2010 financial year.
Are you and your team being innovative at all times?