All-Star Case Studies

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

Goodall Homes

Company Background

Goodall Homes, a residential home-building company based outside Nashville, Tennessee, wanted to run a leaner and more agile company. They also wanted to find a way to teach their team the discipline to look ahead and take advantage of downturns in the housing market.

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AEP SWEPCO Pirkey Power Plant

Company Background

The H.W. Pirkey Power Plant, located in Hallsville, Texas, has been providing low-cost, reliable power to its customers since 1985. The plant’s operators were looking for a way to reduce costs through employee engagement.

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Stalcop, LLC

Company Background

Stalcop is a manufacturer of cold-formed metal with a special expertise and focus in copper components. They were looking for a way to re-engage their employees by creating transparency, opening new lines of communication and repairing damaged customer relationships.

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NewStream Enterprises

Company Background

NewStream Enterprises, an SRC company that has been playing the Game since its birth in 1990, provides comprehensive supply chain management services to manufacturing companies large and small. Its 60 employee-owners label, pack, store, control, and ship customers’ products all over the world. Today, NewStream (Springfield, MO) generates annual revenue of $37 million.

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Comfort Supply

Company Background

Nashville-based Comfort Supply, an $8-million wholesale distributor for the HVAC industry, proudly serves the building contractors of central Tennessee and beyond. The company’s 18 highly skilled business people help contractors and dealers become more profitable and successful by providing them with tools, training, marketing solutions and other value-added services that save time, energy and money.

Business Challenges

“In 2005, we were facing a serious financial situation,” recalls president and owner Clay Blevins. “Our biggest customer had just gone bankrupt, leaving us with a $300,000 bad debt. Our credit line at the bank was inflating faster than we had ever expected. If we didn’t get the company under control we could have been out of business.”

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Pizza Gallery & Grill

Company Background

It was back in 1989 that Chris Conneen, then 21 years old, started his business, Pizza Gallery & Grill (PGG) in Melbourne Beach, Fl., after he had what he calls, “an entrepreneurial seizure.” But it wasn't for another 20 years until Conneen, whose 260-seat restaurant combines gourmet food with eye-pleasing art, learned about the GGOB from fellow culinary entrepreneur Nick Sarillo, owner of Nick’s Pizza & Pub in Illinois. “Learning about and studying the GGOB in 2009, the worst economic year in our lifetime, helped us get focused on the fundamentals of business – particularly how to generate cash,” says Conneen.

Business Challenges

As he and his team began to play the Game, Conneen, like many business owners struggling through the recession, faced the challenge of paying off his long-term debts despite seeing fewer customers walk through his establishment’s doors. Other challenges facing the business included sky-high overhead fueled by a $19,000 monthly rent payment and the notion of teaching financial liter-acy to a staff of 70 who have an average age of 21. “We have always been great about giving our customers great products, service and atmosphere,” says Conneen. “We just haven’t made a lot of money doing it.”

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Sun Design

Company Background

Started nearly two decades ago in Burke, Virginia, Sun Design – which focuses exclusively on the residential home renovation market – operates under the principles of truth, charity and fun. The company began playing the Great Game of Business in 2008 under the guidance of its owners – Craig Durosko and Bob Gallagher– and the company’s Game Master, Sandy Harris. “We stumbled a bit in the beginning implementing things like MiniGames,™” she says. “But we have continued to get better at playing the Game and it has made a huge difference in our results.”

Business Challenges

Few industries felt the sting of the recession more than the residential construction business did over the past few years - a pain that Sun Design shared in. “Coming off of two very successful years in 2006 and 2007, we began 2008 with high hopes and great expectations,” says Harris. “Then, as the market began to slide and our leads began to slow, we saw a significant decrease in revenues with an overall drop of 6.9% for 2008 from the previous year.” To compensate for this drop, the company suffered through its first ever layoff.

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Destination Harley Davidson

Company Background

When Ed Wallace bought a struggling 13-employee Harley shop in 1994, he had high hopes and big plans. He had no clue, however, how successful his dealership would ultimately become. In nine short years, Destination Harley- Davidson grew ten-fold, expanding to 100,000 square feet, 180 employees and annual sales of $40 million. Along the way, it’s been lauded by regional and national business publications for its innovative merchandising, training and marketing practices. Among its Harley peers, Destination has ranked first in new buyer/customer satisfaction for the past five years in a row.

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Paul Mueller Company

Company Background

Paul Mueller Company – a 73 year-old public company that trades under the ticker symbol MUEL – manufactures stainless steel processing equipment and heat exchangers for the agricultural, food, dairy, beverage, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. The company has extensive manufacturing and engineering capabilities at five locations in the United States and the Netherlands.

Business Challenges

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008, the company began a harrowing contrac-tion. Domestic revenue fell from a peak of $241 million in 2007 to less than $76 million in 2010 – a decline of 69%. The number of employees fell by 79% over the same period. This left the company in a very difficult situation. The loss of people caused a loss of institution-al knowledge about how to perform the company’s work as well as a lack of trust between employees and management. Those issues spilled over into production as tasks began to take 40% longer to complete than estimated and orders began to fall six to eight weeks behind schedule.

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The Booksource

Company Background

The Booksource got its start 1974 when Sandy Jaffe bought a company called Paperback Supply, a local book wholesaler in St. Louis, MO. Jaffe subsequently made many changes to the business, expanding through several acquisitions and changing its name in 1987. Today, the business operates four divisions, including two binderies, and is one of the leading providers of books to school districts across the country. Some of the biggest changes came after the company began playing the Great Game of Business three years ago under the guidance of Gary Jaffe, the company’s COO, and Kim Hart, PHR, Vice President of Human Resources.

Business Challenges

While the Jaffes operated Booksource with an open culture, they recognized that they needed a more structured approach to engaging their employees – many of whom do not have college edu-cations – and teaching them financial awareness about concepts like budgeting and cash position. “We were doing some open book things like putting up company-wide scoreboards, but that was just sharing the results of what had already happened,” says Gary Jaffe. “We needed to start forecasting so that we could see what would happen next.”

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