Columbia Industries (CI) Inc was established in Vancouver in 1948, as a manufacturer of products for the construction industry used in sewer and drain waste applications. The products it produces include a broad array of specialty couplings, large diameter repair couplings, inflatable plugs, couplings, and flex seal couplings. It supplies products through a large network of specialized distributors, supply houses, and mass merchants. The key members of the buying center at Columbia Industries include the Plant Manager, the Industrial Engineer, and the Plant Engineer.
The Industrial Manager is responsible for the efficient allocation of equipment and machinery, including lift trucks, and for the financial cost analysis concerning equipment justification and capacity planning. The Plant Engineer is responsible for maintaining plant equipment and machinery and is concerned with its reliability and minimal downtime repairs, performance monitoring, and productivity monitoring and analysis. The individual who is most likely to influence the purchase decision is the Industrial Manager since his opinion is held in high regard.
The acquisition of seven new lift trucks is due to the submission of complaints by the head mechanic, also the plant union leader, from the lift truck drivers concerning safety and performance of the Hyster lift trucks. Attention had also come to the Plant Engineer on their excessive maintenance costs. In other situations in the Vancouver operations, customer’s needs were not able to be addressed in a timely fashion due to limited lift trucks and plant capacity.
The high lift downtime and the rapid expansion of the company were also factors in consideration during the acquisition of the lift trucks. In another case, one Hyster lift truck over seven years old had broken down twice in three months due to problems with the transmission and had cost them over $4000. Another Hyster truck had also broken down and cost them $2000 to rebuild the transmission. Besides reliability and quick service, CI also required for maneuver-ability in order for the truck operators to safely maneuver through narrow aisles and tight corners.
Only two trucks had good trucks, that is, Yale and Caterpillar. Both Companies supplied lift trucks that satisfied the problems at hand. The Yale lift truck had improved performance, tight turning radius, good responsiveness, stability, safety, and ability for the mechanic to make repairs. The caterpillar lift truck had maneuver-ability, advanced features, performed well under full load, and it impressed the mechanic. Whereas the lift truck operators were concerned with the stability and safety of the Hyster trucks, Toyota sent a totally different model, and Komatsu did not send a demonstration truck.
The Yale Company did the best job of identifying the key member of the buying center, that is, the Industrial Manager who was Mr. West. Yale sent their quotation before the others and the sales representative met with Mr. West and explained the features of the lift trucks. Since the Yale and Caterpillar trucks were great trucks, The Yale representative developed appropriate approaches in identifying the key member by maintaining constant contact with him to check on the progress of the decision.
The Yale trucks were also cheaper than the Caterpillar trucks but with a lesser warranty period, so to improve on their chances, the Yale representative offered Columbia Industries, Inc an extension of the truck warranties free of charge making the warranties of a lengthier period than those of Caterpillar.
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