SUBJECT: Organization Behavior
Case-1- A WINDOW ON LIFE
For Gilbert La Crosse, there is nothing quite as beautiful as a handcrafted wood-framed window. La Crosse’s passion for windows goes back to his youth in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where he learned from an elderly carpenter how to make residential windows. He learned about the characteristics of good wood, the best tools to use, and how to choose the best glass from local suppliers. La Crosse apprenticed with the carpenter in his small workshop, and when the carpenter retired, he was given the opportunity to operate the business himself. La Crosse hired his own apprentice as he built up business in the local area. His small operation soon expanded as the quality of windows built by La Crosse Industries Inc. became better known. Within eight years the company employed nearly 25 people, and the business had moved to larger facilities to accommodate the increased demand from Wisconsin. In these early years La Crosse spent most of his time in the production shop, teaching new apprentices the unique skills that he had mastered and applauding the workers for their accomplishments. He would constantly rep eat the point that La Crosse products had to be of the highest quality because they gave families a “window on life.” After 15 years La Crosse Industries employed over 200 people. A profit-sharing program was introduced to give employees a financial reward for their contribution to the organization’s success. Due to the company’s expansion, headquarters had to be moved to another area of the city; but the founder never lost touch with the workforce. Although new apprentices were now taught entirely by the master carpenters and other craftspeople i.e., La Crosse would still chat with plant and office employees several times each week.
When a second work shift was added, La Crosse would show up during the evening break with coffee and boxes of doughnuts and discuss how the business was doing and how it became so successful through quality work. Production employees enjoyed the times when he would gather them together to announce new contracts with developers from Chicago and New York. After each announcement La Crosse would thank everyone for making the business a success. They knew that La Crosse quality had become a standard of excellence in window manufacturing across the eastern part of the country. It seemed that almost every time he visited, La Crosse would repeat the now well-known phrase that La Crosse products had to be of the highest quality because they provided a window on life to so many families. Employees never grew tired of hearing this from the company founder. However, it gained extra meaning when La Crosse began posting photos of families looking through La Crosse windows. At first La Crosse would personally visit developers and homeowners with a camera in hand. Later, as the “window on life” photos became known by developers and customers, people would send in photos of their own families looking through elegant front windows made by La Crosse Industries. The company’s marketing staff began using this idea, as well as La Crosse’s famous phrase, in their advertising. After one such marketing campaign, hundreds of photos were sent in by satisfied customers. Production and office employees took time after work to write personal letters of thanks to those who had submitted photos. As the company’s age reached the quarter-century mark, La Crosse, now in his mid-fifties, realized that the organization’s success and survival depended on expansion to other parts of the United States. After consulting with employees, La Crosse made the difficult decision to sell a majority share to Build-AU Products Inc., a conglome rate with international marketing expertise in building products. As part of the agreement, Build- All brought in a vice president to oversee product ion operations while La Crosse spent more time meeting with developers. La Crosse would return to the...
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