Jay Maxey retired a few years ago at age 48, courtesy of the numerous stock options he had been granted while president of e-shops.com, an Internet start-up company. He soon moved to Montana to follow his dream of living in the mountains and Big-Sky country. Maxey, always the entrepreneur, began a sporting goods store shortly after relocating. The single store soon grew to a chain of four outlets throughout the sparsely populated state. As Maxey put it, “I can’t believe how fast we’ve expanded. It’s basically uncontrolled growth—growth that has occurred in spite of what we’ve done.”
Although business has been profitable, the chain did have its share of problems. Store traffic was somewhat seasonal, with a slowdown occurring as winter approached. Maxey therefore added ski equipment and accessories to his product line. The need to finance required inventories, which seemed to be bulging, left cash balances at very low levels, occasionally giving rise to short-term bank loans.
Part of Maxey’s operation focused on canoe building and white-water rafting trips. Reports from the company’s financial accounting system seemed to indicate that these operations were losing money because of increasing costs, although Maxey could not be sure. “The traditional income statement is not too useful in assessing the problem,” he noted. “Also, my gut feeling is that we are not dealing with the best suppliers in terms of quality of goods, delivery reliability, and prices.” Additional complications were caused by an increasingly competitive marketplace, with many former customers now buying merchandise and booking river excursions via the Internet, through catalogs received in the mail, or through businesses that advertised heavily in outdoor magazines.
Maxey’s background is marketing, and he appeared somewhat puzzled on how to proceed. The company’s chief financial officer (CFO) would be an obvious asset in terms of addressing these problems. Unfortunately, she knew her numbers but lacked key knowledge of general business operations.
The same could be said for other executives who managed somewhat in “silos,” becoming experts in a narrow facet of the company but, in general, lacking a big-picture outlook for the firm.
1. As a group, discuss how the CFO and managerial accounting could assist Maxey in addressing the company’s problems.
2. Would a cross-functional team be useful here? Briefly discuss.
3. Many resources in the sporting-goods company would present significant capacity issues. List three such resources and describe their capacity issues in light of the company’s operations.