Case Study #2: American Tool and Die (Due Week 6)

Part 1:

In this part
of the assignment you are asked to evaluate not only the decision that must be
made but who is best suited to make the decision for the organization. In
order to do this you must isolate the decision that must be made – the nature
or type of the decision. Then, evaluate the individuals (father and daughter)
in terms of the material presented in weeks four and five.

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What biases could they have in making the decision?
What decision making styles do they have?
What skill levels do they possess in making a
How does the information from the previous three
questions make them the best or worst candidate for making the decision?
Substantiate your conclusions and be specific in
your analysis.

In part two,
you are asked to look at the decision that needs to be made and determine if it
should be made by a group or an individual.

Explain why a group would or would not work best based
on potential bias to the issues, expertise level in making the decision,
the need for change, and the stakeholder involved in the process.
Give your reasoning behind your conclusion with

regardless of your conclusion, assume that you conclude that a group is best.

Select how the group would best be formed.
Who would you include in the group?
Who would be leading the group?
How would the group operate (type of group structure)?

How would the company’s leaders (Father and Daughter)
interface with the group and the process?
What degree of authority does the group have in making
the decision?
Be sure to explain bias in your selection of people
for the team.
Again, all your conclusions must be substantiated with
the class material and/or outside resources.

Formatting of Paper:

This report should be double spaced, in narrative
format, 12-point font, and 5-6 pages in length excluding the title page
and reference page;
Include a reference page;
Use headings to separate the different sections;
Write in the third person;”
Use APA formatting for in-text citations and reference
page. You are expected to paraphrase and not use direct quotes.
Deductions will be taken when direct quotes are used and found to be

Case Study #2: American Tool and Die (Due Week 6)
As the sun rose on a crisp fall
morning, Kelly Mueller’s Learjet touched down onto a small airstrip outside
Tupelo, Mississippi, and taxied toward the hangar, where a festive crowd
gathered to await the arrival of Toyota’s CEO. This morning, the governor of
Mississippi, along with local politicians and business leaders from the
automobile industry, would celebrate the construction of a new Toyota plant on
a 1,700-acre site in Blue Springs. The new plant would produce 150,000
Highlander sport utility vehicles each year. The energy and enthusiasm of the
crowd was palpable. The new plant would give hope to a local community that had
been hit hard by the recession.
The purpose of Mueller’s visit was
to assess new business opportunities for the company she ran for her father,
Vince Brofft, CEO of American Tool & Die (AT&D). Mueller joined the
company in 1998 after working for 15 years as an engineer at two U.S.
automakers. Then, after seven successful years as chief operations officer at
AT&D, this scrappy dynamo convinced her father she was ready to be
president. Energetic and tireless, Mueller took over the helm of AT&D, an
auto parts manufacturer that sold braking and ignition systems directly to the
top three U.S. automakers. Mueller was a mover and while she did her homework
she liked to make decisions quickly and by herself. Having worked in large
organizations before she often had to make decisions with others and while she
could do this the thought that she would get to do things on her own in the
small business was intoxicating. With 195 employees, AT&D was located in
Farmington Hills, Michigan, among dozens of other automobile parts suppliers in
the Upper Midwest. AT&D, established in 1912 by Mueller’s great uncle, had
a long history in Farmington Hills. Mueller had often talked with employees who
would recount stories about their fathers or grandfathers working in the same
Farmington Hills plant—the last of the original manufacturing operations in
Mueller was in Mississippi to
research moving AT&D’s plant close to a foreign automaker. The foreign
automakers, particularly Honda and Toyota, had been quickly grabbing market
share away from the big three automakers, who had severely cut production as
the economy worsened. As inventory started stacking up on dealer lots, U.S.
automakers curtailed production in order to cope with the sudden drop in
demand. Next, they put the squeeze on parts suppliers to lower prices. That’s
when AT&D leaders started feeling the crunch and watching their financial
picture turn grim.
Mueller faced an unprecedented
challenge to survive this economic downturn and save her family’s company. She
pleaded with her father to think creatively and shake up the status quo at
AT&D to avoid bankruptcy. Her plan was to forge into new markets and court
foreign automakers. This plan would require closing the plant in Michigan and
opening one near the new Toyota facilities in Mississippi. Her father adamantly
resisted this plan even though he knew she was right. “Dad,” a recent text
message explained, “we have opportunities here in Mississippi. There’s no
future in Michigan. We can’t sit around waiting for the big three to come back!
It’s adapt or die!”
Back at the Farmington Hills plant,
Brofft pondered his daughter’s “adapt or die” theory and considered an
alternative to moving the plant to Mississippi—a move that would cause 195
employees to lose their livelihood in a small, close-knit community. Brofft
agonized over choices that could dismantle a company that his family had built.
He was sickened by the prospect of laying off employees who were like family.
He didn’t want to move but the thought of leaving Michigan was paralyzing the
decision process. He always made decisions in the past by consulting with his
plant manager and good friend Joe Carney. Now he had to let his daughter in on
the process and he just wasn’t sure he could open his mind to her ideas. As an
alternative to moving the plant, Brofft considered ways to stay in Michigan.
The only feasible option was to drastically cut payroll costs. To do so, he
needed support from the local union.
Brofft called a meeting with the
plant manager and union leaders to explain AT&D’s dire financial situation.
He urged them to make concessions in the employee compensation agreement and
explained that these plans would save the company from certain bankruptcy.
Assuming he could win their support, Brofft proposed three strategies to the
local union reps to keep the company financially afloat: (1) reduce worker
wages by 10 percent for one year; (2) mandate a two-week, unpaid furlough at
the end of December; and (3) downsize the number of employees by 30 percent.
Exasperated, the local union leaders could barely restrain their anger. They
were adamantly opposed to all three ideas. Yet probing beyond the fray, Brofft
sensed the fear that lurked under the union reps’ gruff exterior. He sensed
their vulnerability, but could not break through the reactionary bark that
protected it. If union leaders would not cooperate, the plant would have to
move and everyone in Farmington Hills would suffer.
In the meantime, Mueller held
several successful presentations with local Toyota executives while in
Mississippi. “I’ve made progress, Dad,” she said in a voice mail. “I can tell
it’s going to be a long and drawn-out process, but they are very impressed with
our product and historical strength. They’ve agreed to another meeting next

Sources: Karen E. Klein, “Survival
Advice for Auto Parts Suppliers,” BusinessWeek (June 16, 2009),
(accessed November 12, 2009); Amy Barrett, “Auto-Parts Suppliers Brace for
Downturn,” BusinessWeek (February 13, 2009);
(accessed November 12, 2009); and Toyota, .com (accessed
November 12, 2009

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