Aligning Culture And Strategy At A.P. Nichols Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


A.P Nichol’s, a supplier of industry supplies, distributor of repair, maintenance and overhaul parts, overcame a need of redesigning its current strategy in order to maintain and stabilize its position in the challenging environment. Essential elements in the realignment include changes in the structure of the company and compensation policy of the company in order to take the utmost advantage of the prevailing opportunities.


Business dynamics has evolved over the period and the way it used to be done and operated has changed drastically. There are multiple factors responsible for it, including growing customer’s need, advancement in technologies and an urge to remain in the competition.

Nowadays, the success of business is solely dependent upon the continuous learning, acting creatively, open communication and having a solution seeking and growth oriented mindset. The competition in the market is increasing with each passing day and staying on the old traditional methods won’t take the company further, in order to stay in the competition and to maintain a stable position in the market, the company needs to change its prevailing strategy and align it with the existing culture, in order to maintain it’s position in a competitive environment.

Aligning Culture And Strategy At A.P. Nichols Harvard Case Solution & Analysis


A.P Nicolas, a distributor of industrial supplies, dealing in maintenance, repair and overhaul in Chicago, supplying fasteners, bearing, cleaning supplies, and abrasives to factories, is currently facing a need to reposition its current strategy to carry things effectively in a competitive and evolving environment. An important components of this repositioning include changes to the compensation and culture and rebuilding the sales department in a way to align it with the new strategy to take advantage of the untapped opportunities in the market. Although the industry have many distributors in the market, but 50% of the industry is controlled by the 15 large distributors, as they carry 500,000 different items lineup regularly, while a medium size distributor Nichols carry almost 300,000 different stocks and operate 25 different stores around U.S.





Since the companies have adopted the use of technology for the distribution of industrial supplies, they have grown at a much faster rate compared to the companies who have lacked in the adaptation of the technologies. These companies have not only invested in infrastructure, online ordering system and in software’s for maintaining inventory, but they have aligned the technologies and systems with the sufficient investment on their sales forces.

In 1990, when the giant distributors added CRS to their lineup, Nichols was dealing with its technology enabled numbering system, as according to his believe customers were looking for ease while ordering rather than having improved services. In 2003, he realized that his assumption has failed, witnessing slow growth rate, compared to its rivals who were having double digit growth comparatively and the main reason identified was the improve level of services by the competitors that not only effected the sales of Nichols, but also took some of their clients............

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