The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Challenge

12 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2017

See all articles by Robert Landel

Robert Landel

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Philip Deitemeyer

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Rebecca Goldberg

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

In June 2010, Greg Delaney began a four-week executive development program known as TEP at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. Delaney worked at New Zealand's largest fertilizer manufacturer Ballance Agri-Nutrients (BAN) as general manager of distribution and logistics. In this role he was responsible for overseeing 45 distribution centers. He was highly interested in the culture of continuous process improvement (CPI) and hoped to play an instrumental role in developing this culture at BAN. But the conservative nature BAN's loyal employees, its ingrained culture, and limited recognition by its managers and other employees of the need to look for ways to reduce costs had the potential of making any type of continuous improvement program difficult to implement. Delany planned to return to his company after his TEP experience with enough tools, insight, and ideas from other TEP participants to implement the CPI culture.

Excerpt

UVA-OM-1475

Nov. 13, 2012

THE BALLANCE AGRI-NUTRIENTS CHALLENGE

In June 2010, Greg Delaney walked into a classroom at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration to begin a four-week executive development program known as the Executive Program (TEP). Delaney, a native New Zealander, had worked at New Zealand's largest fertilizer manufacturer Ballance Agri-Nutrients (BAN) for 10 years, working his way up from distribution center manager to his current role as general manager of distribution and logistics. In this role, Delaney was responsible for overseeing 45 distribution centers, each staffed with two to five employees. Highly interested in the culture of continuous process improvement (CPI), he hoped to play an instrumental role in developing this culture at BAN. He planned to return to his company after his TEP experience with enough tools, insight, and ideas to implement the CPI culture. Delaney had mentally reviewed the situation at BAN in preparation for presenting his strategic leadership challenge to his TEP classmates.

Company Culture

Ballance Agri-Nutrients was a successful, farmer-owned cooperative of long standing, with approximately 18,000 shareholder customers. Its mandate was to supply farmers' individual nutrient requirements as cost-effectively as possible. BAN had a history of treating its employees well and managing operational improvement activities without a formal system of training and metrics or significant levels of employee involvement. The manufacturing and distribution employees at BAN were mostly conservative, long-term employees with some high school education. It was not uncommon for an employee to have worked for 30 or 40 years at the company, and the typical BAN employee preferred not to stand out from the crowd or be singled out. Therefore, the conservative nature of these loyal employees had the potential of making any type of continuous improvement program difficult to implement. BAN had produced fertilizer for decades, so its culture was ingrained, which also contributed to its resistance to change.

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Keywords: enterprise resource planning, management control systems, supply chain management, Lean, 5S methodology, continuous process improvement

Suggested Citation

Landel, Robert and Deitemeyer, Philip and Goldberg, Rebecca, The Ballance Agri-Nutrients Challenge. Darden Case No. UVA-OM-1475. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2974986

Robert Landel (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/landel.htm

Philip Deitemeyer

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Rebecca Goldberg

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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