3 Clyde Williams is facing a dilemma. He has successfully built up a small family-owned company, Concrete SolutionsLtd, manufacturing a range of concrete based products used in making roads, pavements and walkways. Theproduction technology is very low tec


3 Clyde Williams is facing a dilemma. He has successfully built up a small family-owned company, Concrete Solutions

Ltd, manufacturing a range of concrete based products used in making roads, pavements and walkways. The

production technology is very low tech and uses simple wooden moulds into which the concrete is poured. As a

consequence he is able to use low skilled and low cost labour, which would find it difficult to find alternative

employment in a region with high unemployment levels. The company has employed many of its workforce since its

creation in 1996. The company’s products are heavy, bulky and costly to transport. This means its market is limited

to a 30-mile area around the small rural town where the manufacturing facility is located. Its customers are a mix of

private sector building firms and public sector local councils responsible for maintaining roads and pavements. By its

nature much of the demand is seasonal and very price sensitive.

A large international civil engineering company has recently approached Clyde with an opportunity to become a

supplier of concrete blocks used in a sophisticated system for preventing coast and riverbank erosion. The process

involves interlocking blocks being placed on a durable textile base. Recent trends in global warming and pressure in

many countries to build in areas liable to flooding have created a growing international market for the patented erosion

prevention system. Clyde has the opportunity to become the sole UK supplier of the blocks and to be one of a small

number of suppliers able to export the blocks to Europe. To do it he will need to invest a significant amount in CAM

(computer aided manufacturing) technology with a linked investment in the workforce skills needed to operate the

new technology. The net result will be a small increase in the size of the labour force but redundancy for a significant

number of its existing workers either unwilling or unable to adapt to the demands of the new technology. Successful

entry into this new market will reduce his reliance on the seasonal low margin concrete products he currently produces

and significantly improve profitability.

One further complication exists. Concrete Solutions is located in a quiet residential area of its home town. Clyde is

under constant pressure from the local residents and their council representatives to reduce the amount of noise and

dust created in the production process. Any move into making the new blocks will increase the pollution problems

the residents face. There is a possibility of moving the whole manufacturing process to a site on a new industrial estate

being built by the council in a rival town. However closure of the existing site would lead to a loss of jobs in the current

location. Clyde has asked for your help in resolving his dilemma.


(a) Using models where appropriate, advise Clyde on whether he should choose to take advantage of the

opportunity offered by the international company. (12 marks)


SWOT analysis, including his personal liability to manage the strategic change would be useful. There may be a significant
investment in new technology and employee training to make the new blocks. In effect he will be forming a strategic alliance
with the international company and making significant changes to both the value chain and value system. There will be no
need to invest in sales and marketing as this will be the responsibility of its larger partner. As a major strategic option there
is a need to address issues of its suitability, acceptability and feasibility. In terms of suitability the option seems to address
many of the strategic problems attached to his current product range. It is a product that can be sold all year round and into
a much wider geographical market area. It is in terms of acceptability that the dilemma reveals itself and the impact on the
different stakeholders involved – he may find stakeholder mapping and scenario building useful in coming to a decision. As
the owner of the business he needs to assess the risk involved against the likely returns. Feasibility looks reasonably sound– new resources and skills will be needed but affordable and achievable with the support of the partner.