Peter Winford, general manager of Whitewater Specialties, Kelowna, B.C., was trying to decide whether to continue to pursue a potentially large order of fiberglass fascia signs from a major Canadian retailer. Although the order would fulfill Whitewater Specialties’ mandate to diversify its product line, it might also result in almost quadrupled sales. Was this growth appropriate for the company and its parent?
Students are introduced to the strategic role of operations and must evaluate a potentially large order that could affect the firm’s competitive advantage. The case lends itself to a wide-ranging strategic discussion from a “bigger picture” management perspective of what is best for the company. Topics include Whitewater Specialties’ past diversification efforts, the production task’s requirements for this order, the need to shift from a job shop towards large batch production if the order is pursued, the financial impact of the order and, finally, whether Winford should pursue the order. Note: This is the most challenging case of the cases available for teaching at the high school level. Teachers are advised to refresh their knowledge of some of the business issues discussed in this case.
Unlike other operations cases, financial calculations are minimal. Instead, students are expected to think strategically about the business and its production operations, and how to use its current and potential production capabilities to best compete within the existing business (external) environment.