Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies


Academic journal article Journal of Case Studies


Article excerpt

Toluca (A)

The Appointment

"Why the hell aren't these keys in alphabetical order?" It was Pansophic Training Day for Oneida's senior managers and Bill, one of the senior sales executives, was struggling with a foreign object: a keyboard. But it was the dawn of the Information Age and soon every executive would have a new vehicle for communication: a personal computer. Things at Oneida had been done the same way for decades, but the world was changing: their largest retail customers were rapidly moving to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Oneida's antiquated systems could not support this type of partnership. Welcome to the new world of global supply chain management where just-in-time (JIT) replenishment was just as important as the hallmarks that built the great Oneida brand: design, quality, and relationships.

Although Phase I of the Pansophic Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system implementation was winding down and Ed James was feeling a sense of accomplishment, he was also experiencing some frustration and fatigue from the constant battles. Indeed, Ed had spent the past year focused not only on implementing a new ERP system at Oneida, but changing a culture.

"This was supposed to be the easiest part," Ed exhaled deeply. "General ledger, purchasing, order entry, and distribution. 'A cakewalk' according to you, Tom, especially when compared to Pansophic's manufacturing module."

"Ed, we just did what several before you failed to do: you got half the corporation up and running on a new system (indeed, Oneida had tried and failed on several occasions in previous years). The positive momentum is with us.... tearing out that 1960's cost accounting system, introducing Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) to a century-old manufacturing system, and turning us into a JIT supplier. This is exciting stuff!!" Ed's boss Tom Franklin exclaimed, trying to pump Ed up. Tom and Ed had known each other for years. As a matter of fact, Tom was Ed's mentor at Coopers & Lybrand (later PwC) and played a key role in luring Ed to Oneida Ltd..

"I'd rather have root canal than go through another year of this drudgery. Opening those 24 retail shops all over the U.S., now that was exciting! Building a business! Yes, I want to conquer markets!" Ed thought to himself. Ed had stopped listening to Tom and began to daydream.

"Ed... .Ed, are you listening to me?" Tom asked with a hint of irritation in his voice. (phone rings) "Yea, uh-huh... what?", exclaimed Tom. "I told you we should have closed that place! We have poured millions into that factory and we are losing our shirt!!" Tom put the phone down and gazed out the window.

"What's wrong? What is it?" Ed asked.

Tom replied, "Mexico; the whole darn strategy was flawed from the beginning. You cannot just send a truckload of machinery and equipment, wave a magic wand, and expect the management team in Mexico to succeed. It is a shame and we don't have the time or the resources to do it right. I told Gordon (Oneida's President) to stop the hemorrhaging of cash and close it down. Now, where were...."

"Send me." Ed interrupted. With those two words, Ed's life would change until the end of days.

Concurrently, at 8,000 feet above sea level, even the normally spring-like weather in Mexico City can turn bitterly cold and harshly unwelcoming. Suddenly, a figure appeared at the door of the convent cold, shaking, alone, and in labor. As they had done for centuries, The Sisters of Guadalupe took the unwed 14-year old into their home and into their hearts. A few hours later, with the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a backdrop, Sara Marcela Cuevas was born: an event that would also change Ed's life forever.

Arriving in Mexico

Five months later, Ed was looking out the airplane window. Surrounded by mountains and an angry, active volcano named Popocatepetl, and coupled with fierce gusts of wind, Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City was considered one of the most, if not the most, dangerous airports to land a plane. …

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