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Case: Fabtek

Fabtek has the ability to position themselves for profitable growth, but they need to fix their business, focus on key business drivers, and re-evaluate the area. Listed below are the key issues they face and the recommendations for improvement. Focusing on these issues and developing selection criteria for quoting would help Fabtek improve their current profitability and position them for growth. Fabtek should accept the Pierce Pike order as it closely matches Fabtek's selection criteria for selecting orders.

Lack of Sales FocusFabtek states anyone can make a sell. This indicates the company places a low priority on training sales people. Fabtek needs to focus on direct selling and train sales reps to accomplish market growth and to sell customer value. Cost Structure and Bidding ProcessManufacturing Costs are unreliable and the Bidding Process has a low success rate. Fabtek needs to train its manufacturing and marketing group to work together in estimating accurate costs, lead-times and understanding customer value in quoting a job. Too Many MarketsFabtek must evaluate the 11 markets served and identify those in growth segments that are not price sensitive, and value quality. Fabtek should focus efforts on these markets. Lack of CapacityTitanium has been identified as a growth market. Fabtek must either be more selective in order intake or plan for capacity expansion. Refocus on Core CompetencyFabtek's core competency lies in welding Titanium with a high degree of quality. The company needs to build on this strength.

Lack of Sales Focus
Fabtek believes anyone in the organization can act as a sales rep. This indicates the company places a low priority on having dedicated, trained sales people. The sales function at Fabtek is understaffed and overlooked. An investment in a "fabrication" sales force would allow Fabtek to grow profitably and have direct, consistent communication of their superior quality and capabilities with customers. Currently, Fabtek uses industry tradeshows, symposiums and technical papers to communicate to customers. This type of communication is often overlooked and is not effective on its own. Fabtek needs an active sales force to reinforce the presence of the brand in the market and establish themselves as the leaders in "high-quality titanium fabrication". Fabtek needs to invest in developing sales literature/training to aid in highlighting the problems associated with poor heat treatment, thermal cutting and welding of titanium. The sales force should be trained to understand the cost impact to the customers when welds were not were not verified for strength. The sales force should also be trained to communicate the benefits of using Fabtek as a titanium fabricator. A dedicated sales force who understands the company's core competence, can identify customer need, and sell value would allow Fabtek to build a strong relationship with the customer base and position the company to grow profitably.

Cost Structure and Bidding
Fabtek's product costs had five components: material, labor, manufacturing overhead, subcontracting, and general and administrative costs and profit. Manufacturing overhead at Fabtek is 200% of direct labor costs and should include indirect labor, indirect materials, property taxes, insurance, and utilities. Because high manufacturing overhead cost leads to lower gross margin and income, Fabtek should focus on reducing manufacturing overhead. Eliminating unnecessary functions and optimizing the available geographic footprint can reduce manufacturing overhead and achieving the best-cost position. Fabtek should focus on a productivity program to continuously improve lead-times and improve service. In addition, Fabtek's operations group needs to improve estimates on labor content for quoting jobs. The unreliable information on labor estimates is likely...
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