All-Star Case Studies

Learn from the "Best of the Best" - the Great Game All-Stars

Kiolbassa Provision Company

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Company Background

Kiolbassa Provision Company is a fast-growing craft manufacturer of authentic premium sausage and food products. The company’s
sausages, which are often described as “the best sausage I’ve ever had in my life,” are now sold across the U.S. and Mexico.

Playing the Game Together

In 2016, for the first time in 20 years, Kiolbassa struggled to grow sales. Because of that decline in sales growth, the company struggled to be able to take advantage of the weak commodities markets – which greatly impacted the company’s profitability.

To try and turn the tables, a cross-departmental team from sales, operations, and other support groups like QA came up with a new MiniGame around sales. When the game ended at the end of 2016, the team had not made their goal. But they won in so many other ways. As a result of playing that game, the team established a brand new sales process, an important medium to communicate, and ultimately a new expectation for teamwork across the company. The cross-departmental team also decided to keep meeting on a regular basis because they realized how valuable it was to them and the company.

Fast forward to 2017: the framework and momentum that was created during the MiniGame has led to record sales for the company. Kiolbassa is back on track to achieve its five-year sales goal.


Back in 2014, extreme fluctuations in the prices of commodities created havoc at Kiolbassa – especially for its president, Michael Kiolbassa. While he had members of his team clamoring to invest in more facilities and operations, Kiolbassa knew that the business needed something even more important: cash.

“I was also feeling the pain of being the only one in the business who understood the financials,” says Kiolbassa, whose grandfather started the business in 1949. But it was that crisis that led Kiolbassa to the Great Game of Business, which he saw as a tool that could help bring everyone on his team together. They began by implementing financial literacy training, and then rolled out MiniGames and a Stake in the Outcome program to get the firm’s team members working toward a common goal – increase the company’s margins.

After playing the GGOB for just a couple of years, the company has seen transformative results, both financially and in the strength of its culture of values. Team members have grown substantially through huddles, leadership groups, financial literacy training, and being involved in high involvement planning.

“I think the growth in our company is dwarfed by the growth in our people,” says Kiolbassa, “just in the way they have been exposed to how our company makes money and generates cash. They have been challenged to make decisions based on what they know. They have grown intellectually and emotionally through that exposure.”

RESULTS

  • Cost Control: Operating expenses are down by almost 2% of sales since Kiolbassa turned to the GGOB, which translates into $375,000 in cost savings.
  • Improved Efficiency: With improved “line of sight” among associates, raw material usage is down 1.51% and manufacturing yields are up 5.5% - which has led to a hefty $1.3 million improvement in gross profits through the first five months of 2014.