Tanglewood was originally founded in 1975 by best friends Tanner Emerson and Thurston Wood. The initial concept was a single store in Spokane Washington, named TannerWood, which sold a combination of outdoor clothing and equipment that the pair had designed themselves. The employee handbook notes that, “Tanner and Thurston financed their early store plans with credit cards and personal loans from friends and family. They had so little money that they slept in sleeping bags in the back room and put every penny they made back into the stores.” The first store’s unique merchandise offering and personable sales staff made them successful quite rapidly, allowing Emerson and Wood to move out of the back room and add several more stores during the late 1970’s. The merchandise offerings expanded ...view middle of the document...
Around 1984, after we had 10 stores, we realized we had developed a fairly successful blueprint for running stores with a strong base of employee participation, customer satisfaction, and profitability. So we decided to spread out to cover the northwest.”
During the 1990’s the expansion strategy really took root. Most of the expansion occurred by purchasing other existing stores rather than building new stores. Emerson and Wood had been heavily involved in the management of the stores, but found that increasingly the corporate administration was a more pressing concern. The company arrived at a regional structure for its operations. Emerson and Wood took on the positions of CEO and President of the company, respectively, while a team of regional managers more directly oversee day to day operations. The company currently has a total of 243 stores open in the states of Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona.
Prior to any further expansion, however, the company needs to consolidate its current management strategy. The process of growth has been very quick in the last 5 years, and has involved buyouts of several smaller chains of department stores. While all the stores under the Tanglewood name have the same basic look, the management styles and human resource (HR) practices still reflect the historical differences between stores. Wood noted in a recent interview with Business Monthly, “Tanglewood really needs to slow down and take a hard look at our corporate culture. Right now, we need to consolidate and make sure we’re as close to the company’s original mission as we can be. Our success is due entirely to our strong culture—this is something we need to hold on to.” These concerns have lead Tanglewood to bring in external human resources consultants like you to help centralize the organization’s practices.