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MARSHALL GAS CONTROLS
Business Plans Can Be Successful
Marshall Gas Controls, in San Marcos, Texas is the leading
producer of gas regulators for the outdoor cooking and RV markets.
The business is extremely
seasonal with almost all of the business distributed through the
first 3 quarters of each year.
The company is family owned – third generation Don Leggitt, Jr.
is President; the management team has long tenure
and is very experienced.
MCG is similar in many ways to the entrepreneurial
organization that has built their business by focusing on customer
service. Prior to TCA’s involvement, MGC did not have a strategic
plan – the executive team managed the company using an annual
plan and budget. MGC had never needed a strategic plan, and from
all appearances could continue to be successful in existing markets
without one. However, the management team recognized that market
share increases in current markets were unlikely. Continued growth
would have to come through diversification. For that, MGC needed
a Strategic Business Plan.
Preferring the word “Master” to “Strategic”,
Marshall Gas Control’s Master Business Plan is an incredible
document. It took several weeks to work through all the elements.
All department managers have this document on their desk and refer
to it frequently. Tim Nicholson, Operations Vice President,
keeps his copy in a 3-ring binder in order to make changes and access
easier. He uses this document every week. It is a living
document and changes as business changes.
Market/Economic Factors, SWOT, Objectives
The Executive Team met for 2 concentrated off-site days to develop
the market data, Strength-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT)
analysis, mission/values statement, financial objectives, key strategies,
and supporting objectives. Members of the management team generated
most of the supporting data.
The team also prepared an easy to read, simplified summary of the
company’s financial objectives. The summary showed sales,
growth, and other key fiscal data for a 5 year period. This process
ensured all members of the executive team had the information
fresh in their minds while considering strategies for the future.
The next step is crucial. The MGC's management
team looked at this information as a whole and asked themselves,
“What must our strategies be in order to accomplish the opportunities
or negate the threats?” From this analysis, several overall
key strategies emerged:
- • Defend market share in primary market segments
- • Grow xx% per year
- • Diversify to eliminate business seasonality
Supporting Objectives and Implementation Plans
With key strategies in hand, the executive team then asked,
“What must our supporting objectives be in order to execute
on the strategies?” MGC developed a list of supporting objectives:
Using key strategies and supporting objectives, each department
manager then developed specific implementation plans. This step
is often left out in many business plans yet it is the
most important step in execution. Each manager
outlined in detail what he or she was going to do to achieve the
supporting objectives. In many cases, the manager had to coordinate
decisions about priorities, resources, and other issues with the
executive team. This process was very constructive
and resulted in meaningful implementation plans.
Driving Implementation With 1Page Plans
The executive team used the 1 page plan as the key tool to drive
the implementation of the Master Business Plan. For each department,
a 1 page plan summarizes key strategies, departmental objectives,
and implementation tasks. These included a brief statement, due
dates, and individual responsibilities.
1 page plans are reviewed and updated monthly, and tie all the
efforts in each department back to the Master Business Plan.
Gap Analysis – Organization and Communication
The final step of the planning process was to recognize that the
new Master Business Plan required changes in the company’s
organization structure and in other planning processes used by MGC.
As part of the Master Business Plan, a communications model and
an organization structure were developed.
The Communications Model outlined the meetings that would be used
to plan future performance and to monitor performance against plan.
It also defined specific agendas and responsibilities for each planning
Other changes to the organization structure became part of the
implementation plan and are being completed along with other elements
of the plan.
All companies can develop a strategic business plan. Marshall
Gas Controls found that to make it work, they had to:
- • Establish key strategies and supporting objectives
- • Drive these objectives into the creation of implementation
plans at the department level
- • Develop a working communications plan with responsibilities
- • Create an organization capable of executing the Master
- • Prepare and use 1 page plans.
Using these tools and techniques, Marshall Gas Controls is effectively
executing against the plan and achieving significant growth in new
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