Vermont Teddy Bear Company

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Vermont Teddy Bear Company was founded in 1981 by John Sorinto, it was a company that made its niche selling handmade, hand sewn teddy bears in the streets of Vermont. Since its inception, the mission of the company was to provide a high quality, handmade teddy bear using materials created and manufactured in the United States.

The company was founded under the following mission statement: "The Vermont Teddy Bear provides our customer with a tangible expression of their best feelings for their families, friends, and associates. We facilitate, communicate, and therefore participate in caring events and special occasions that celebrate and enrich our customers' life experiences.

Our products will represent unmatchable craftsmanship balanced with optimal quality and value. We will strive to wholesomely entertain our guests while consistently exceeding our external and internal customer service expectations.

The Vermont Teddy Bear brand represents the rich heritage of the "Great American Teddy Bear" begun in 1902. We are the stewards of a uniquely American tradition based on the best American virtues including compassion, generosity, friendship, and a zesty sense of whimsy and fun" (Wheelen & Hunger, 2004).

The company's operating philosophy was based on five simple, yet critical operating guidelines;

Our Customers-They are the foundation of our business Our Employees-They are our internal customers
Our Investors- They provide capital in good faith
Our Vendors-They provide a partnership for opportunity Our Community- They deserve our commitment to being ethical

Since the founding of the company, The Vermont Teddy Bear Company has experienced great success, however, starting in 1995, that all changed. Since 1995, the company has gone through major management turnover, a corporate name change, multiple operational changes, and a reversal of corporate identities.

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company couldn't settle on what they wanted to be known for. Mr. Sortino realized he couldn't lead the company to new, successful heights, so he elected to step down from the position of CEO and hire a replacement. Over the course of two years, the company changed CEO's on two occasions, and sales and profits continued to falter. The company altered its business plan to go away from the very popular, successful, "Bear-Grams" operating model to a less profitable retail business plan. With constant growth up to 1995, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company was a solid, efficiently ran corporation.

In 1997, the company changed CEOs for a second time in a two year period, and promoted Ms. Elizabeth Roberts to orchestrate a turnaround. She assumed the title of CEO and President, and was responsible for lowering expenses and improving profits. Ms. Roberts had the unenviable task of making difficult strategic management decisions concerning The Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Some of these decisions included things like the growth or demise of the retail industry, going overseas for materials, marketing and advertising, and product branding.

Elisabeth Robert has reflected on the enormous tasks to be accomplished. She wondered if she could successfully reposition her company and return it to profitability. The issues of external and internal factors would have to be addressed, and a strategic management plan would have to be implemented. The company lacked direction as a whole, and failure to correct the misunderstandings and lack of cohesiveness within the members of management will cause the Vermont Teddy Bear Company to continue its failures.

The first step in this process is the creation of an External Factors Analysis Summary. An EFAS is a way to organize the external factors into generally accepted categories of opportunities and threats, as well as a way to analyze how management is responding to those threats. The factors are weighted by...
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