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Case Analysis

Herman Miller: The Invention and Renewal of an Iconic Manufacturer

GM 599 Strategic Management in Global Environment

Professor: Ernesto Escobedo

Shehzad Karedia

Herman Miller Inc started back in 1905, as a furniture company. The Star Furniture Company was a manufacturer of traditional-style bedroom suites in Zeeland, Michigan. It changed its name to Michigan Star Furniture Company, in 1909. Dirk Jan De Pree was hired as a clerk during that transition. D.J. De Pree became the president of the company 10 years later. He then renamed the company Herman Miller in honor of his father –in-law in recognition of his support for purchasing majority of share to save the company from failing (Shipper, Manz, Adams, Manz, 2010). Herman Miller Inc. became a leader in "modern" furniture in the 1930s and 1940s; developed lasting ties through the 1950s with legendary industrial designers who led us in new directions; transformed the office furniture industry with the first panel system in the 1960s; invented and refined ergonomic work seating in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s; reinvented the geometry of systems furniture in 2000, and is today the second largest office furniture company with customers and locations around the world (Dowdell,2008).

Herman Miller Inc. is a global company with operations, sales offices, dealers, and licensees in more than 40 countries in North America, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. They serve customers virtually anywhere in the world. Their headquarters is in Zeeland, Michigan and have numerous manufacturing facilities located in the U.S., China, Italy, and the United Kingdom. They sell their products and services through substantial global dealer network of independent and company-owned businesses (www.hermanmiller.com, 2011).

Types of Paramount action for building an organization capable of good strategy execution are: staffing organization, building and strengthening core competencies and competitive capabilities, structuring the organization and work effort. I will elaborate on the organization Herman Miller utilizing those strategies.

Staffing the organization is considered as assembling talented management team, and recruiting and retaining employees with the needed experience, technical skills, and intellectual capital (Thompson, Peteraf, Gamble & Strickland III, 2012, p333).

De Pree recognized the need to appreciate its employees after visiting a widow of a deceased employee; at this point on, he felt that Herman Miller’s corporate culture was to respect all employees and fueled the quest to tap the diversity of gifts and skills held by all (Shipper, Manz, Adams, Manz, 2010). He made it aware of the corporate culture and it is still valued today. One aspect of staffing organization is putting together a strong management team and recruiting and retaining talented employees.

Herman Miller Inc. was place in the Fortune 100 for best company to work for; it was all because of their organization good strategy execution. Hermann Miller promotes people within their organization. Their education and training was the key to prepare employees to take on new responsibilities. From the top executive to management staff the chain remained within. When D.J De Pree took position as a chairman of the board after serving more than 40 years as the president; his son Hugh De Pree became president and chief executive officer. After 18 years as president and CEO, Hugh De Pree stepped down and was succeeded by his younger brother Max De Pree as chairman and chief executives in 1980. Other opportunity came for lower management as well like Rudy Bartels an environmental specialist and other vice presidents whom started their careers at Herman Miller’s production floor (Shipper, Manz, Adams, Manz, 2010).

Building and strengthening core competencies and competitive capabilities: developing set of resources...
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