Strategic objectives and scope of business excellence project
Sonoco, founded in 1899, is today a $4B packaging company headquartered in Hartsville, SC, with a strong history of year over year EBIT improvement and dividend payouts to shareholders. One of the company’s core strategic drivers is to grow the top line via organic growth and key acquisitions. In 2005, the company’s CEO noted that working capital costs had increased by $100MM over the preceding two years.
This put the growth by acquisition goal at potential risk. In years’ past, performance was improved at year end via increased management focus; however, that improvement very quickly regresses after the fiscal year to where they were before. In addition, external benchmarking revealed that Sonoco was performing in the third quartile as compared to our peer group in the packaging industry. A steering committee was formed in September 2005 with the mission to “improve, via systemic root cause analysis and subsequent targeted process changes, performance in both dollars and days on the three components of working capital: accounts receivable, accounts payable, and inventory.”
The team’s vision statement was to reach the top quartile in the peer group by the end of 2008. Establishing this vision created the foundation for creating the “burning platform” for all associates to engage in the improvement initiative: everyone wants to be the best among their competition.
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