Case Study – Thomas Motor Company
John Thomas is the Managing Director of the Thomas Motor Company. He succeeded to the position of Managing Director after his father’s untimely death in May 1978. Martin Thomas, the founder of the Thomas Motor Company, Started off as an apprentice mechanic in a suburban area of Melbourne when he was only eighteen working as an assistant to Fred Luthans. Martin learnt all he knew about automechanics from him. He was a keen and enthusiastic learner and Luthans like people like that. He saw a lot of potential in Martin and once remarked to a fellow worker after Martin completed a job in record time, “That kid is going to be someone someday. By the age of twenty-one, Martin had become one of the fastest and most skilful mechanics that Luthans had taught.
Five years later, Martin opened up his own garage in Geelong, a city 70kms west of Melbourne. With his natural knack for automechanics, Martin’s small business prospered until it became the Thomas Motor Company we know today.
It had been taken for granted that John Thomas would one day succeed his father as Managing Director of the Company. Martin was conscious of this and he wanted John to have a solid background in automechanics. He thus sent John off to a technical school. He did not want John to be taking on a job which would be beyond his capacities and training when he took over the business.
The company’s office was based in downtown Geelong, but the workshop was situated some distance away on the outskirts of town. Working in the workshop where the six mechanics employed in the business. Steve Robbins, aged forty-five, the foreperson in charge of the workshop, was a veteran at the Thomas Motor Company. He had been Martin’s long time friend and had been with the company since the day it was formed. He was the most experienced and skilled worker there.
Robbins basically did some administrative work besides the usual tasks at the workshop. He was the one who sorted out the work of the other mechanics, although there was no formal job description for his job. Robbins was an informal sort of leader. He would often join in the fun with the others and treated them as his equal. Everyone at the workshop was a member of a closely knit group and there was little need for Robbins to keep them in line. The atmosphere suited him extremely well.
Bob Johnson, aged thirty-four, was the next most senior mechanic on the floor. He had been with the company for the last fifteen years, and in many ways was considered a veteran too. Like Robbins, he was fast and very competent in his job.
Dick Kelly, aged thirty, had been with the company for the last ten years. He was just as skilful as both Robbins and Johnson, but lacked the years of experience which made the two men faster.
Jim Richards, aged twenty-one, was the only apprentice in the workshop. The workshop was at the moment short of one mechanic. The last one, Dave Hines, had left for Melbourne, preferring the glamour of a bigger city. His unexpected departure left the workshop one man short. As mechanics were not easy to come by, Robbins decided to train a mechanic himself. Richards, therefore, was supposed to learn, while helping either Robbins, Johnson or Kelly. He had been in the workshop for the last year.
Finally, there was Ralph Turner, aged thirty-six, and a newcomer to the workshop. Hired three months, Turner had been working for his father at the Turner Workshop. The Turner Workshop had initially handled their won trucks and some trucks from other firms. Lately, however, the Turner contracts with several firms had expired. The firms refused to enter into new contracts. Soon Turner found that his workshop was in fact operating at a loss. This was due to the fact that they were only servicing their own trucks. Eventually, Turner senior decided to close down the workshop and signed a contract with Thomas Motor Company to service his trucks. This, however, left Turner...
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