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Don't Shoot The Messenger Essay

824 words - 4 pages

Don’t Shoot the Messenger1 On July 5, 2000, the unit general manager of Billings Equipment, Inc., instructed the supply management team to renegotiate existing agreements for a 10 percent reduction with major suppliers because of target costs exceeding expectations. Jeff Martin, a supply management engineer, was instructed along with the entire purchasing staff to contact his suppliers immediately with what they would view as very bad news. Jeff had to face his suppliers with this demand. Company Background In June 1998, Billings Equipment, Inc., formed a new business unit and opened a plant in Seattle to produce a new line of earthmoving machines for the construction industry. The ...view middle of the document...

The Problem The push to production forced acceptance of early design of many components, which inhibited additional cost reduction. Customarily, 80 percent of cost reduction occurs during the design phase. Tooling was developed during early design configurations to meet the production schedule. As designs became frozen and cost information became more complete, the projected total costs were going to exceed target levels by as much as 20 percent. As the costs for the bill of materials (BOM) continued to rise above target levels, it became clear that this increase was not simply because of procedural or accounting errors, but rather represented true costs. The general manager realized that the rising cost situation was beyond recovery and would impact the market
Reprinted with permission from the publisher, the Institute for Supply ManagementTM “Don’t Shoot the Messenger” by Donald R. Jackson, PhD, C.P.M., Ferris State University, 2001 Case Writing Workshop.

pricing and success of the entire product line. At this time, Billings Equipment, Inc., had invested $20 million to $30 million in sunk costs for the plant and pre-production efforts. Something drastic would have to be done. The Ethical Issue In an effort to at least “stop the bleeding,” a letter was sent to suppliers on July 5 declaring the regrettable necessity to reduce prices by 10 percent within 30 days. Buyers were to follow up immediately by contacting their top 30 suppliers. The veiled threat for noncompliance to re-open previously negotiated agreements indicated a possible cancellation of the product line altogether, or at least a...

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