The case narrative was developed from recorded interviews with C1 executives, on-site observations, review of company literature, presentations and website information. Eight operations and three human resource (HR) executives were interviewed at C1. Although data collection initially began at C1, obtaining access to HR executives proved more difficult. The interviews were completed over a one year period at the company, by which time three new companies had been recruited and data collected for research. While HR interviews encompassed both corporate and unit executives located at the distribution center (D.C.), Operation function (including operations, quality and marketing) participants were located at the corporate office. Corporate perspectives on lean and quality strategy (LQS) implementation largely dominated C1 analysis and presentation of findings. The HR role in LQS implementation in contrast offered both corporate and unit perspectives, making the C1narrative a unique case offering unlike other case company (C2, C3, C4) studies.
Color coding was used to visually highlight the source of quotations and ensure the case analysis in general drew equally from all interviews in the development of the narrative. The color coding system was planned ahead of the data analysis (provided below) and also aided in a second round of member checking.
Table 1. Research Participants - Role of interviewees at C1
No. Role of Interviewees in company Font Colors used to indicate source of quotes
1 Director – Energy Sales ES
2 Director – Energy Operations TC
3 Director – HR HD
4 Director – Quality LC
5 Manager – HR (Distribution Center) GH
6 Manager – HR (Distribution Center) LS
7 Quality Assurance Specialist LSY
8 Quality Supervisor CL
The research findings were presented to company executives. Their feedback and suggestions assisted in updating research data and have been incorporated in the narrative.
As a supply chain solutions company, C1 provides downstream value-added services for energy and industrial markets through a distribution network of more than 250 locations across North America and Europe (company website). C1 stocks more than 90,000 diverse products for customer markets providing them with maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products and has been in the business for almost 100 years (company website). The company’s commitment to quality has ensured that C1’s distribution centers maintain International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification standards and ensure top quality and service to customers.
Reasons for C1 Adoption of LQS
While the focus on quality was not new at C1, one event galvanized Lean introduction. Two major customers demanded alignment of C1 operations through the use of LQS improvement programs. Failure to adopt LQS initiatives could have damaged C1’s relationships and reputation with key customers. To the extent possible, C1 mirrored customer LQS efforts even...