The Starnes-Brenner Machine Tool Company of Iowa City, Iowa, has a small one-man sales offi
ce headed by Frank Rothe in La-
tino, a major Latin American country. Frank has been in Latino for about 10 years and is retiring this year; his replacement is Bill Hunsaker, one of Starnes-Brenner’s top salespeople. Both will be in Latino for about eight months, during which time Frank will show Bill the ropes, introduce him to their principal customers, and, in general, prepare him to take over.
Frank has been very successful as a foreign representative in spite of his unique style and, at times, complete refusal to follow company policy when it doesn’t suit him. The company hasn’t really done much about his method of operation, though from time to time he has angered some top company people. As Presi- dent Jack McCaughey, who retired a couple of years ago, once remarked to a vice president who was complaining about Frank, “If he’s making money—and he is (more than any of the other foreign offi
ces)—then leave the guy alone.” When McCaughey
retired, the new chief immediately instituted organizational changes that gave more emphasis to the overseas operations, moving the company toward a truly worldwide operation into
which a loner like Frank would probably not fi
t. In fact, one
of the key reasons for selecting Bill as Frank’s replacement, besides Bill’s record as a top salesperson, is Bill’s capacity to be an organization man. He understands the need for coordina- tion among operations and will cooperate with the home offi
so that the Latino offi
ce can be expanded and brought into the
The company knows there is much to be learned from Frank,
and Bill’s job is to learn everything possible. The company cer- tainly doesn’t want to continue some of Frank’s practices, but much of his knowledge is vital for continued, smooth operation. Today, Starnes-Brenner’s foreign sales account for about 25 per- cent of the company’s total profi
ts, compared with about 5 percent
only 10 years ago.
The company is actually changing character, from being
principally an exporter, without any real concern for continuous foreign market representation, to having worldwide operations, where the foreign divisions are part of the total effort rather than a stepchild operation. In fact, Latino is one of the last operational divisions to be assimilated into the new organization. Rather than try to change Frank, the company has been waiting for him to retire before making any signifi
cant adjustments in its Latino
Bill Hunsaker is 36 years old, with a wife and three children; he is a very good salesperson and administrator, though he has had no foreign experience. He has the reputation of being fair, hon- est, and a straight shooter. Some back at the home offi
ce see his
assignment as part of a grooming job for a top position, perhaps eventually the presidency. The Hunsakers are now settled in their new home after having been in Latino for about two weeks. Today is Bill’s fi
rst day on the job.
When Bill arrived at the offi
ce, Frank was on his way to a local
factory to inspect some Starnes-Brenner machines that had to have some adjustments made before being acceptable to the Latino government agency buying them. Bill joined Frank for the plant visit. Later, after the visit, we join the two at lunch.
Bill, tasting some chili, remarks, “Boy! This certainly isn’t like the chili we have in America.”
“No, it isn’t, and there’s another difference, too. The Latinos are Americans and nothing angers a Latino more than to have a ‘Gringo’ refer to the United States as America as if to say that Latino isn’t part of America also. The Latinos rightly con- sider their country as part of America (take a look at the map), and people from the United States are North Americans at best. So, for future reference, refer to home either as the United States, States, or...
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