Case – 5 Threads of History Marks
Springs industries of fort Mill, South Carolina, have done something that many organizations can only
hope to do. Founded in 1887, it’s survived for well over a century in an industry that’s seen its share of
brutal ups and downs. As the largest home-furnishings company in North America, Springs, 14,000
associates (employees) make bath rugs bedspreads, pillows, towels, window blinds, and other textile
products at manufacturing facilities in 13 states, Canada, and Mexico. The company’s CEO, Crandall Close
Bowles, is the great-great-granddaughter of the company’s founders. When she became CEO in 1998, the
U.S. textile industry was under intense attack by competition from cheap imports, Bowles realize that she
would have to make some changes in order to remain competitive. These changes entailed becoming
amore efficient operation by streamlining the company’s work processes and cutting domestic production.
Although she struggled with the tough decision of manufacturing outside the United States and being
assumed to care more about profits than people, Bowles says,” How many jobs can we have if we don’t
make a profit? If retailers will only sell goods made here and consumers will only buy product made here,
I’ll reopen all my plants here. I’d love to do that. But that just isn’t going to happen.” Choosing not to
totally rely on outsourced manufacturing, Bowles is using an approach called mirror manufacturing, in
which much of the company’s product line is duplicates domestically. That way, if a customer need
product quickly to meet a spike in demand or if a product starts to sell more than forecasted, there won’t
be a 90-day wait for product to be shipped from supplier. Instead, the company’s U.S. plants can ship in a
matter of days.
CEO Bowles continues to manage her company for the long term. However, she says one of the biggest
challenges is to “motivate and reassure the employees that this company does have a future and we can
grow and prosper.” One way that the company has chosen to do this is through its Rewards and
recognition program, which highlight and compensates outstanding associate of year. In 2004, Nancy
Ogburn, a weaver at the Elliott plant in Lancaster, South Carolina, Won the award for her consistently
outstanding daily performance. Ogburn’s department manager said,” Nancy quality’ safety, productivity,
and attendance record set bar at the Elliott Plant and among the best in the company.” When presenting
the award to Ogburn, CEO Bowles said, “…she embodies what this program is all about –going the extra
mile. It’s because of associates like her that we’ve survived 117 years, why we have a future.” Surviving
another century won’t be easy, but this company has realized that although its past is important, its
current decisions actions will influence whether there’s a future.
1. How might principles of scientific management be useful to spring industries? How about the
2. How might knowledge of organizational behavior help the company’s frontline supervisors
manage their employees? Would the CEO and other top managers need to understand OB? Why
or why not?
3. Using Exhibit 2-6, describe Springs Industries as a system.
4. Using information from the company’s Web. Site, what values does this company embrace that
might be important for successful organization in the twenty-first century?
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