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Professor Robert S. Kaplan prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as
endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.
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ROBERT S . KAPLAN
Dakota Office Products
John Malone, General Manager of Dakota Office Products (DOP) was concerned about the
financial results for calendar year 2000. Despite a sales increase from the prior year, the company had
just suffered the first loss in its history (see summary income statement in Exhibit 1).
Dakota Office Products was a regional distributor of office supplies to institutions and commercial
businesses. It offered a comprehensive product line ranging from simple writing implements (such as
pens, pencils, and markers) and fasteners to specialty paper for modern high-speed copiers and
printers. DOP had an excellent reputation for customer service and responsiveness.
DOP operated several distribution centers in which personnel unloaded truckload shipments of
products from manufacturers, and moved the cartons into designated storage locations until
customers requested the items. Each day, after customer orders had been received, DOP personnel
drove forklift trucks around the warehouse to accumulate the cartons of items and prepared them for... [continues]
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