All-Star Case Studies

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

2020 Case Study - Willoway Nurseries

 

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Organization Background

Founded in 1954, Willoway Nurseries is a third-generation, family-owned wholesale grower of trees, shrubs, perennials and seasonal color crops that ships to retailers and contractors in 26 states. Willoway is now the largest wholesale grower of nursery products in Ohio and a leading supplier in the United States, with a customer base of more than 1,200 independent garden centers and landscape contractors in the Midwest and east coast.

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2019 Case Study - Jenner Ag

Organization Background

Jenner Ag, the Case IH Agriculture Application Equip

ment Distributor for the states of Illinois and Indiana

—a consolidation of four different companies—has been serving its customers for 54 years and counting.

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2019 Case Study - Cherry's Industrial Equipment

Organization Background

Cherry’s builds and sells specialized equipment used in warehouses to transfer product on and off pallets. The company, which sells primarily to Fortune 500 companies, also manufactures equipment used to clean and maintain pallets.

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2018 Case Study - Willoway Nurseries

Organization Background

Founded in 1954, Willoway Nurseries is a wholesale grower of trees, shrubs, perennials, and seasonal color crops that ships to retailer and contractors in 26 states. Willoway is now the largest wholesale grower of nursery products in Ohio and a leading supplier in the United States, with a customer base of more than 1,200 independent garden centers and landscape contractors in the Midwest and east coast.

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Van Belle Nursery

Company Background

Van Belle Nursery is a commercial supplier of trees, plants, and shrubs based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. The company, which was founded in 1973, ships to a variety of retailers in western Canada as well as in the northern U.S.

Business Challenges

One of the biggest challenges that the nursery faces is finding a way to build a cohesive com-pany culture for its 100 associates, most of whom are immigrants from companies like Mexico, Iraq, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, and India, and even a few from Canada.

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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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Chuck Latham Associates

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.

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The Booksource

Company Background

The Booksource got its start in 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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Mears Floral Products, Inc

Company Background

Mears Floral Products, Inc. (MFP) is a wholesale distributor of fresh flowers and greens, plants, interiors products, and floral supplies such as: glassware, baskets, silks, ribbon, dried materials, foam, preservatives, Christmas decor, and more. Founded more than 60 years ago, MFP, which is based in Springfield, MO, and has 28 employees, serves retailers in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma with its fleet of refrigerated trucks.

Business Challenges

MFP has struggled not only in the wake of the recession, but also with the passing of their president, Dave Mears, who was also the past president of WFSSA (Wholesale Florist Association) and regarded as one of the industry’s best. The company has seen a steady decrease in sales and profits every year since 2006. “We have made a lot of improve-ments since then, which was enough to keep our doors open,” said Vice President Kelly Parsons, “but it just wasn’t enough to be profitable.”

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