World Leader in Baking Products Empowered Employees Create the Basis For Sustainable Growth

Industry: Consumer Goods

Expertise: Rapid Results, Simplification

Schaffer Team: Claudio Avila Tobias, Daniel Dworkin, Patrice Murphy

Growth of a global baking products manufacturer required development of a culture of speed, agility, and innovation.

Growth demands development

Through a series of calculated acquisitions, the world’s leader in baking products grew from a regional bakery in Mexico to a global powerhouse. Revenue increased at an impressive pace, from $9 billion in 2010 to $14 billion in 2015.

However, between acquisitions, new brands, and expanded geographic reach, operations became complex and hierarchical. Continued growth demanded development of a culture of speed, agility, and innovation.

Tapping a “Hidden Reserve” Leads to Dramatic Results

Schaffer began by working with senior executives to identify target markets to test new ways of working. We agreed that the US and Uruguay were ideal targets for “Rapid Results Initiatives” – 100-day sprints designed to achieve performance breakthroughs and develop new capabilities.

A small, cross-functional team in the US elected to focus on building their snack business in the Mid-West and California. After establishing an aggressive growth goal, they partnered with a sister company and independent operators to reduce the sales cycle from weeks to days. The team engaged regional managers to map and prioritize target clients. Then, they developed tailored marketing and sales strategies to drive customer acquisition. The results of their efforts were outstanding: the rate of client acquisition doubled in 10 weeks, which translated to 2,700 new customers (6% of their customer base).

In Uruguay, the general manager faced a daunting turnaround challenge after years of unprofitability. With Schaffer’s help, he empowered his management team to challenge all conventions and generate profits over a three-month period. Managers immediately pulled together three teams comprised of top talent from across the country.

One team reduced the high rate of product returns in supermarkets from 36% to 15%. The team collaborated with store managers to better understand product demand and adjusted shipping orders accordingly. They also subcontracted with distributors to expand their reach with smaller supermarkets.

Another team slashed costs by $125,000 in their second largest business by rescheduling production, partnering with more cost effective suppliers, and reorganizing.

A third team reduced shipping costs by $50,000 and avoided investment of a $500,000 new centralized distribution center through consolidating products from three existing plants into a single shipping order. They reconfigured existing picking areas in three plants and collaborated with customers to redesign shipping routes.

Prompted by this success, the Uruguayan teams implemented similar changes with the largest supermarket chain in the country and several other key distributors… all in 100 days. Collectively, the three teams generated $1.5 million EBITDA in the year following their Rapid Results experiences.

The impact of these initiatives led the CEO to ask all nine business units to apply Rapid Results to tackle their own challenges.

Rapid Results Initiates a Performance Tipping Point

Once Rapid Results rolled out to every division, the company enjoyed one major accomplishment after another.

Instead of trying to control the supply chain, the Canadian subsidiary gave greater flexibility to distributors and retailers, allowing them to manage their product portfolio and orders. As a result, the subsidiary was able to cut its annual product return rate by half.

A partner in the US launched a new product into the snack market in record time by setting common goals, emphasizing teamwork, and focusing on experimentation, learning, and iteration.

Despite a sluggish economy, a subsidiary in South America hit its annual sales goal of $4.6 million, driven by stretch objectives and new levels of organization-wide engagement in the launch of a new product line.

Successfully pursuing one client together gave two sister companies in North America the opportunity to collaborate and identify the capabilities needed to win in the highly competitive frozen bread market: low cost supply, quick formula prototyping, and close collaboration with food service providers. In 100 days, the team secured confirmation to run a product test with their first client.

Key Takeaways

There were a number of factors that led to success in each of these projects.

  • Leaders inspired the organization with a compelling vision that kept everyone in the innovation zone.
  • Managers empowered cross-functional teams to achieve short-term results to advance an overarching strategy.
  • Team members focused on partnering with customers and subsidiaries to develop, test, and scale innovative ideas.

Schaffer’s Rapid Results Approach fueled unparalleled engagement and innovation across the organization. The capabilities we helped our clients develop now serve as the engine for sustainable growth.