Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

M&d Supply Case A: "Stuff Happens"

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

M&d Supply Case A: "Stuff Happens"

Article excerpt


A devastating fire and terminal cancer! Sometimes key decisions are forced by stochastic circumstances. M&D Supply is currently one of the premier hardware and industrial supply stores in Southeast Texas with four outlets. During its forty-three years, the company has succeeded against heavy odds. These include changes in the market, recessionary trends, competition from national chains and personal tragedies.

A series of case studies will highlight the entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen that has enabled M&D Supply to overcome its challenges. M&D Supply case "A" focuses on entrepreneurial behavior in response to challenge and adversity. It examines a family's path to business success despite overwhelming personal and professional odds.

Secondary issues include strategies and tactics that were employed to reposition the business in response to declining market conditions. This case has a difficulty level that is appropriate for a senior level free standing or capstone course in entrepreneurs hip or small business management. The case shows that accurate recognition of a target market opportunity is a key consideration for success. During the late 60's and early 70's, Case A sees the company changing its focus from farmers and ranchers to individuals interested in a wide range of hardware products for the household.

Choosing and aligning with the right partner is important for a business of any size. Case "A" illustrates that the partnership with Ace Hardware was instrumental in providing M&D Supply with brand name recognition and an efficient supply chain.

Students are provided an entrepreneurial dilemma requiring them to develop, analyze, and prioritize the entrepreneur's alternatives. Case "A" requires students to perform a SWOT analysis of the business and while considering the main character's personal dilemma, recommend a course of action. Students should also develop a plan to align the business with its market opportunity.


Jack Dyson moved to Southeast Texas in 1955 to partner with venture capitalists G.F. Mitchell and E. W. McCown. Mitchell and McCown owned numerous businesses related to the Southeast Texas agricultural industry, including farm production, aerial seeding, and fertilizer production and distribution. The two desired to own a farm machinery company and were seeking a partner who could operate the business. They partnered with Jack and opened Farm Machinery Company. The business operated successfully and was sold soon after G.F. Mitchell died. Building on their 10 year partnership, Jack Dyson, Mary Mitchell (G.F.'s widow) and E. W. McCown decided to incorporate M&D Supply.

M&D Supply's business-to-business concept targeted farmers and ranchers. Secondary markets included consumers with large properties and institutions whose responsibilities included maintaining large tracts of land. The store's product mix included maintenance, repair and operations supplies necessary to sustain agricultural, beef, and other farm production activities.

The Farm supply business in Southeast Texas was segmented. National chains like Sears Roebuck, White's, and Western Auto and independent operations such as True Value Hardware offered a limited number of agricultural products and a low level of service. Dyson and his partners were confident their product mix, experienced staff, and familiarity with customers offered a value proposition that yielded sustainable competitive advantage.

The store turned a profit during the first two years. However, by 1969, a decline in the region's agricultural sector began a sustained trend of diminishing business conditions that put farmers and ranchers out of business. M&D Supply's financial performance reflected shrinking numbers in its target customer sector, necessitating that Dyson considers change.


Jack Dyson's fledgling business, M&D Supply, was just a small metal building with bare concrete floors, an open ceiling, and florescent strip lighting, but for many farmers and ranchers in the community, this humble environment was HOME. …

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