Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Copper Ridge, Inc.: In Search of a New Culture

Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Copper Ridge, Inc.: In Search of a New Culture

Article excerpt


In his inbox, Steve Hartman found the Culture Audit Team's final report that he hoped would provide some keys to addressing performance shortfalls of the long-successful manufacturing company, Copper Ridge, Inc. Hired only 10 months ago as the Chief Human Resources Officer, Hartman had an inkling of what would be in the report but was now preparing himself for the difficult task of sharing the report with his boss Andrew Gladstein and with the subsequent hard work that would be needed to implement the changes in the organization.

Gladstein, the CEO of Copper Ridge, had tapped Hartman for the job of Chief Human Resources Officer in the wake of the brand's weak performance. Over a seven-year period, the company's premier brand, Copper Ridge, had failed to meet several of its performance targets which included return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE), return on investment (ROI), earnings before income and taxes (EBIT), revenue, profitability, and market share. In fact for its most recent year, it had failed to meet all performance targets except its revenue target. On the other hand, Salt Creek, the company's mass channel brand, had met all of its performance targets.

Gladstein was baffled as to how two brands that were designed, manufactured, and distributed in the same buildings could perform so differently. The previous work his senior management team had done including refining the company's reordering systems, redesigning merchandising fixtures, and restructuring had not made a positive difference on the Copper Ridge brand's performance. Gladstein had turned to Hartman to help and Hartman's first step was to form the Culture Audit Team to help identify the key issues that were hurting brand performance. Hartman picked up the report and, immediately turned to the summary of findings.

Hartman's Entrance

The Copper Ridge senior management team usually met quarterly with Gladstein. However, today--three weeks before the regularly scheduled meeting--Gladstein stood at the podium in the front of the Timber Room--the room where all the senior managers historically met. The Timber Room was also where Ted Hansen, Copper Ridge's former Chief Human Resource Officer, announced his retirement two weeks earlier. Out of respect to Hansen, Gladstein had chosen not to discuss business--specifically, missed targets and lagging results--that day.

Today was different. Gladstein stood at the front of the room and looked sternly at the nearly 75 men and women who made up his senior management team.

   Although our performance in the past has been good, in fact
   enviable by some measures, it has not matched the growth of some of
   America's best companies. Frankly, we aren't all that we can be.
   Either the company has set poor targets or we need to change the
   way we do things around here.

His senior managers knew all too well that the company had missed many performance targets over the last several years. Their bonuses had reflected it.

Gladstein stood at the front of the room, smiled, and continued,

   I'd like to introduce to you our new Chief Human Resources Officer,
   Steve Hartman. Prior to Copper Ridge, Steve spent 15 years with
   Tek, a company known for its leading position in the mid-range
   computer industry. Steve spent six of those years as the
   Vice-President of Human Resources where he faced very similar
   challenges to what we are facing today. As a corporate officer,
   Steve led a cultural initiative that turned around the company's
   business. Within four years of the initiative, Tek met nearly all
   of its performance targets and continues to sustain them. Please
   help me welcome Steve Hartman.

After Hartman stood up at his chair, Gladstein ended the meeting by saying, "All of us will be part of a similar cultural initiative led by Steve. He will share that plan at the next Senior Management meeting scheduled in three weeks. …

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