Depending on the industry, how a company navigates tough economic times is a testimony to its leadership and a determining factor in longevity and survival.

For a former TBM client, a large global packaging manufacturer, former leaders, Kevin Quinn and John McGrath share their experiences and provide recommendations and lessons learnt around surviving and thriving during tough economies over the past 35 + years of working at the company.  In this videocast, Kevin and John advise that an economic downturn is not a time to act like a victim. It is the time to become opportunistic about new areas to grow, focus on your customers, build strategic supplier relationships, and determine what will make your company stronger and better than the rest. In the end, some companies are going to win, and some will lose. Listen to Kevin and John, hosted by TBM’s VP of Maintenance Excellence practise, David Hicks to learn from their experience about driving critical initiatives that can help companies come out a winner in any economy.

About the company:

Large public company offering sustainable packaging products for food and beverage companies serving large global brands and local businesses. Operating across 53 Plants, 2 paper mills, 3 extrusion plants and 2 carton filling plants.



What was the impact of tough economic times on the business?
(Timestamp 00:00 – 6:22)

During tough economic times, people still need to eat and drink.  While the challenge wasn’t making sales of their products, it was understanding the:

  • Direction of the market
  • Shifts in demand and buying patterns
  • Increases in material and operating costs
  • Changes in customer needs and
  • Right portfolio of products

and then creating a plan for appropriate changes to stay on the course of success. At the end of the day, no matter what the economic conditions look like, meeting the customer’s needs was paramount.

Tune into the opening segment of this videocast (timestamp 0:00 – 6:22) to learn the biggest business impacts from economic uncertainties and critical considerations to continue meeting customer needs.

How did you address the economic crisis?
(Timestamp 6:23 – 14:36)

How the company was operating, or what they were selling may have worked years ago, but when confronted with economic obstacles the storey changed.  For the company, making moves to stay competitive, drive production and stay cash positive during tough economic times meant making some critical decisions such as:

  • Shutting down product lines
  • Selling off inventory
  • Shifting production to more efficient equipment
  • Adjusting/Reducing shift schedules

Watch this next segment (timestamp 6:23 – 14:36) where Kevin and John dive into the critical manoeuvres that removed the complexity and increased efficiencies in their manufacturing plants.

What other areas of the business were impacted by the economic downturns over the years?
(Timestamp 14:37 – 19:36)

In 2010 the company had a significant reorganisation because of an individual investor acquiring the company. As a result, there was an effort to make the company and workforce leaner and more efficient which helped make the company “bulletproof” to upcoming economic challenges.  The methodology was to ensure there was a strategic focus on the customer base and supply base for a successful transition.

Learn more about this methodology to ensure the best customer and supplier strategy for the newly acquired business

What are some of your lessons learnt over the years of economic uncertainty?
(Timestamp 19:37 – 27:00)

Plain and simple, the main lessons learnt from surviving and thriving over the years of strong and challenging economic times is 1. Always have a plan ready for either scenario, and 2. Always maintain a lean organisation. These two lessons helped the company over the years:

  • Produce and deliver quality products to customers when they need it,
  • Maintain a communication strategy with employees, customers and suppliers
  • Partner with a third party on strategic direction

Discover why each of these lessons are critical to the company in both challenging and thriving economic times

What were some critical initiatives that helped the company navigate through tough economies?
(Timestamp 27:01 – 39:51)

Listen to this final segment of the Customer Spotlight videocast where Kevin and John outline the top initiatives that set up the company for success during and coming out of challenging business times in 2010. Learn about the following initiatives that significantly improved and sustained EBIT and cash position for the company:

  • Implemented a strategy deployment process
  • Standardised all plants through Leader Standard Work
  • Reorganised to remove redundant or unnecessary layers
  • Removed wasteful material and operational spending
  • Improved working capital management
  • Employee engagement and training