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All-Star Case Studies

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Chuck Latham Associates

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Company Background

Chuck Latham Associates (CLA) is a leading broker in the specialty retail areas of pet care, equine products and sporting goods. Its capable team (120 full-time and up to 1,000 part-time associates) helps client's exceed their distribution goals by providing sales, marketing and retail services and expertise. The $19-million company, based in Colorado, has been playing The Game since 2007.

Great Game Solutions

Over the past two years, CLA has used Game fundamentals to transform its culture from one of entitlement to one of accountability. Today teams conduct business „The CLA Way‟ by following 10 timeless principles that sharpen decision-making and entrepreneurial skills. Their rapid improvement plans (RIPs, or Mini-Games) continue to grow sales, cut costs and strengthen business processes including their Web site. A new Reward and Recognition program helps keep everyone focused on building long -term company value.

Huddles are fast and effective. All information fits into a compact spreadsheet. Line-item holders forecast the P&L and KPIs and explain deviations from the plan. The strategic update covers progress on topics like debt-reduction, innovation and diversification. Special teams announce game wins, training opportunities and bonus-pay projections. Finally, CEO Chuck Latham wraps up every huddle with an upbeat “Good News” report.

CLA credits its Game with helping it recover from an unexpected loss of a major line in 2007. In 2008, better forecasting and problem-solving turned a $500K mid-year loss into a $500K gain. In 2009, during the economic turmoil, CLA posted revenue growth of 22% and a profit margin of 4.3%. It acquired two companies and hired 860 part-timers as competitors downsized or failed. The company also achieved a 1% overall forecasting variance for 2009 and reduced its long-term debt by 21%. For their exceptional results, associates shared in 12 buckets of bonus dollars (known as “Dog Bowls”) valued at $240K. Concludes Karan Chandler, SVP of human resources: “Our Great Game is something we take great pride in.”

RESULTS

  • Sales growth: 7% in ‘07, -4% in ‘08 and 22% in ‘09.
  • Profit margin: 3.8% in ‘07, 3.4% in ‘08 and 4.3% in ‘09.
  • Expansion: Acquired two companies to meet ‘09 diversification goals. Hired 860 as competitors failed.
  • MiniGames: RIPs continue to grow sales, reduce costs (travel, shipping, debt) and strengthen key processes and company Web site.