Clemec Corporation – Furniture Project
Clemec is a successful producer of specialty chemicals. It operates nine large campus sites in the United States, with a number of different business units on each site. These business units operate independently, with direct reporting to corporate headquarters. Site functions such as safety, environmental, and facilities management report to a host organization—typically the business unit that is the largest user of their services.
Joanne Stagley has worked in the Facilities group at the Clemec, South Florida site for the last two years. The Facilities manager, Tim Smith, reports to the General Manager of the largest business unit on site, the highly profitable Adhesives and Sealants Division. In total, Clemec, South Florida was comprised of five different business units. Joanne started with Clemec when she graduated with her business degree from NSU. She was excited about her new assignment—leading a project for the first time. She remembered Tim saying, “We’ve got office furniture dating back to the 80s. There are those ugly greentop desks that look like they came from military surplus! I am especially concerned about computer workstation ergonomics— it is a major issue that we absolutely must fix. Poor design has been having a detrimental impact on employee health and retention. I want you to lead a project to transition our office furniture to the new corporate standard. There is only one caveat, we need to have the furniture in place by year end. That means we have less than ten months to make this happen.”
Joanne assembled her project team: Jim, the site safety/ergonomics engineer; Gale, the space planner; Carol, the move coordinator; Andrea, the human resource coordinator; and Klaire, the procurement/accounting liaison for Facilities. At their first meeting, everyone agreed that ergonomics was the most urgent concern. All five business units responded to a workstation survey that identified injury-causing ergonomics. The team was developing a plan to replace old desks with new, ergoadjustable furniture by the end of the year. Joanne asked Klaire about the budget, and Klaire responded, “Facilities should not pay for this. We want the individual business units to pay so that the costs will show where they are incurred.” The team agreed that developing HR collateral would be critical to employee retention and recruiting. Using corporate approved vendors was discussed as a potential constraint.
Gale spoke up: “You know, we’ve got lots of department moves going on constantly. Everybody is always jockeying for space and location as their business needs change. Besides the ergonomics, could we say that only corporate standard furniture gets moved? That would force changing some of the stuff that’s just plain ugly.” Everyone agreed that this was a great idea. Joanne presented the project plan to Tim and got a green light to proceed.
Jerry Wax is a planning manager, with 22 years experience at Clemec. His business unit, Photo Chemicals Division (PCD), is losing money. Digital photography is continuing to reduce the size of the market, and PCD is having trouble matching the competition’s relentless price-cutting. Jerry recently transferred to Clemec, South Florida from corporate headquarters, where he ran the economic forecasting group. He is considered a new broom, and he is determined to sweep clean.
One of Jerry’s early actions was to negotiate with his general manager for a department move. Money was tight, and the site facilities function charged an arm and a leg for the move. However, Jerry felt it was important to move from Building 4, where they were next to Production, to Building 6, where they could be close to Marketing, Forecasting, and Accounting. His General Manager agreed, and there was
lots of excitement in his team about their upcoming move. Jerry assigned one of his planners, Ralph, to work with the Facilities team on the layout and move plan for the group. Things seemed to be going fine—Jerry saw Ralph sitting down with the move coordinator, and they seemed to be on track.
The day before the move, Jerry hung up the phone from a particularly tense teleconference with a Canadian subcontractor. Production was not going well, and product availability would be tight for the rest of the quarter. Clustered around his desk were Ralph, Carol, and a person he had not met yet, Joanne. After hurried introductions, Joanne told Jerry that his filing cabinets could not be moved. The cabinets are large lateral files, five feet wide and two feet deep, a combination of both filing cabinets and bookshelves. Jerry brought them with him from Corporate because he thought they looked nice with their dark grey steel sides and wood veneer tops. Joanne told him that he would have to replace them with new corporate standard cabinets, virtually the same size. Jerry said, “You mean you want me to throw away perfectly good filing cabinets and spend another $2,000 on new ones, just so they match? I won’t do it!”
Joanne replied, “Then I won’t authorize the movement of the old cabinets.”
Jerry said, “You’re joking—these cabinets are grey, the new ones are grey—the only difference is the wood top! You’d throw away $2,000 for nothing?”
Joanne replied stiffly, “I’m sorry, that’s the policy.”
Jerry said, “I don’t care what the policy is. If I have to move them myself, those cabinets are not going to the dump. My division is losing money and I am not going to throw money away. If you do not like it, you are going to have to get your general manager to convince my general manager to make me do it. Now would you pleasleave so I can get some work done.”