case article - KEL629 BRENDA ELLINGTON BOOTH AND KAREN L...

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KEL629 ©2012 by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. This case was prepared by Professor Brenda Ellington Booth and Professor Karen L. Cates. Cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 800-545-7685 (or 617-783-7600 outside the United States or Canada) or e-mail [email protected] No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of the Kellogg School of Management. BRENDA ELLINGTON BOOTH AND KAREN L. CATES Growing Managers: Moving from Team Member to Team Leader Melissa Richardson sat stunned in her office in Phoenix, Arizona, after a disastrous early July meeting with her boss, Beth Campbell. In March, Richardson had been the top Chicago salesperson and a high-potential candidate for management at ColorTech Greenhouses, Inc., a premium grower and distributor of annual and perennial flowers. Richardson remembered the call she had made to her mother, who still lived in her childhood home on the north side of Chicago. “Mom, I just got off the phone with the southwest regional sales manager in Los Angeles,” she had said. “They want me for the sales manager spot in Phoenix!” Richardson had been looking for an opportunity to move up at ColorTech, and her boss had recommended her for the promotion when the position opened. Thirty-two years old and single, Richardson had been excited to show her new team how to break into the top sales ranks the way she had done. But after only a few short months, she had failed to improve her team’s performance and felt like a liability on her regional manager’s watch list. Richardson wondered how things had gone so wrong so quickly and what she could do to fix them. About ColorTech Greenhouses, Inc. ColorTech was a privately held supplier of annual and perennial flowers to big-box stores (large, no-frills, warehouse-like retail stores) such as Home Depot and Walmart. Within the color industry (the term used to describe growers of the colorful, flowering bedding plants used to create outdoor, in-ground floral displays), ColorTech was well known for its patented hybrid plants and high-tech automated greenhouse operations located primarily in southern North America. Along with the rest of the industry, the company was facing increased price competition and a downward trend in sales caused by a saturated market and a shift away from water- and maintenance-intensive home and garden improvements. ColorTech in particular was exposed to aggressive demands for lower prices and costly customization from the big-box stores.
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