Primary Task: 600–800 words
Primary Task Response: Respond to the following scenario with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. Be substantive and clear, and use research to reinforce your ideas.
Now is the time to make a decision about relocating the manufacturing operation to the United States is fast-approaching. AutoEdge, like most companies, uses a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threat (SWOT) analysis to facilitate its decision making.
You have just completed your first monthly activity report for the board when Lester calls.
“Hi,” you say. “I just finished my monthly report for the board. I’ll e-mail it to you when we get done talking.”
“Sounds good,” he says. “I’m calling because we need your expertise again for another facet of our investigation into the manufacturing operation. This time, I want you to conduct a detailed SWOT analysis for AutoEdge, and provide a brief summary of your analysis.”
“I was expecting this,” you say. “Some of the research I’ve done over the past 4 weeks will be useful as I put this analysis together for you.”
“Yes, I thought you were in a good position to do this work,” he says. “Your analysis may be different from other people who have been at the company longer, but your fresh perspective on the components will be helpful in moving the debate forward.”
“That’s a good point,” you say. “I’ll keep that in mind as I go through the information.”
Lessons From Experience: Forecasting With Numbers
Introduction The story that you are about to read is from actual events that occurred in the field. Its purpose is to provide you with a real-world example from a seasoned professional in the business world. Forecasting With Numbers Working in the jewelry industry involves forecasting; that is, forecasting which jewelry pieces will be in demand and then determining how many to order. While working at a jewelry company, one of my tasks was to place orders for various jewelry products for the store. But for me at that time, forecasting meant looking at last year’s orders and then simply copying those numbers. I never gave much thought to why I was ordering what I did; I just did it. As it turned out, my orders were off the mark—not just by a little bit, but by a lot. The store got stuck with a surplus of items that eventually went on clearance for less than what we paid for them, all because I didn’t use a financial model or take into account external factors that could have affected the jewelry items. Today, I implement many financial models and include net present value (NPV) so that I have a better understanding about what I’m ordering, and so I can be more accurate in forecasting. It is important to take away the following from this scenario: • Financial models are crucial when forecasting. • Subjectivity and objectivity are equally important.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Scenario: AutoEdge
AutoEdge is a leading national automotive supply company located in Detroit, Michigan. Founded by Jonathan McAlister in 1976, the company specializes in engines and transmission parts and has been supplying products to the three largest U.S.-based automakers for over 30 years. AutoEdge’s name is known by customers and leaders in the automotive industry for quality, dependability, and reliable products. In fact, despite the extra cost that is added to the automobiles, consumers appreciate the AutoEdge brand name and often make purchases because of it.
In 2005, AutoEdge’s board of directors decided that the company needed to make some drastic changes because of the high cost of labor, rigid American regulations, and increased competition from other engine and transmission part suppliers. Their solution was to gradually close all manufacturing operations in Detroit and begin outsourcing to a well-known factory in South Korea. The board reasoned that this change would allow the company to compete with the growing industry, meet the automotive manufacturing demands, and increase company profits. Some board members were skeptical about the move, however, because AutoEdge had built a reputation for high-quality, detailed craftsmanship, and they feared that transitioning the manufacturing operations overseas would cause quality to diminish.
For the next 5 years, this strategy proved successful. The company showed signs of financial growth and company profit.
However, in 2010, the company was found guilty of supplying products that failed quality tests. As a result, millions of automobiles had to be recalled. The recall was highly publicized, and the issue of poor quality products impacted negatively on American automotive companies. AutoEdge’s $51 per-share stock has fallen to $4 per share, and brand acceptance has come under scrutiny among even its most loyal customers. Although some economists blame these negative effects on the products, others believe that it had to do with the termination of AutoEdge’s Chief Executive Officer, Fred McFadden.
Lester Scholl, Chairman of the Board of Directors, has called an emergency meeting to discuss AutoEdge’s short-term and long-term strategies. Among other things, they need to discuss the possibility of continuing production overseas or returning it to the United States. Lester and others on the board are well-known for being financially conservative and risk-averse. Because the American economy is experiencing high unemployment, low interest rates, low GDP, and low inflation, it might be sensible to make the change. To some extent, they believe that these macroeconomic factors can be used to their advantage. They realize the immediate challenges such as the brand damage, the growing competition, and the financial challenges the company is facing require immediate action. A new strategy must be formulated quickly to save the company from bankruptcy.
You have been hired by AutoEdge’s board of directors as a research analyst. Primarily, your job is to list and describe some of the legal, cultural, financial, and economic factors that AutoEdge needs to consider when deciding to either stay in South Korea or return to the United States. Because Fred McFadden was recently terminated, you will work directly with the board until a new CEO is named.