RM Williams is a company established in 1932 by Reginald Murray Williams. The company is regarded as Australian brand, and it was initially set to produce boots. Over the years, RM Williams has diversified its operation to include manufacturing of belts, hats, and jacket. It has also set its production and retail in various countries. The ownership of the enterprise has changed over the years, but the products have remained the same. Financial challenges have forced RM Williams to change hands and seen new management take over with the aim of transforming it into a multinational company. By 2016, the company was under the management of L Capital who acquired it from Cowley. L Capital appointed Vuppalapati, who has developed corporate, competitive and functional strategies aimed at making the company a multinational entity.
Strategies of R. M Williams
The business strategy of R.M Williams is guided by definition of what the business should the company be in as well as how the business office should manage its business units. The analysis of corporate strategy employed by RM Williams or its acquiring companies is based on organizational theory, restructuring, transferring skills and sharing activities. Portfolio theory is a strategy based primarily on diversification through acquisition (Cochrane, 2014) RM Williams, over the years of its existence, has engaged in shifting resources among the units and monitoring their performance. The groups run autonomously with limited interference but are accountable to the corporate center. RM Williams started producing only boots at the back of William parents’ house at Percy Street premises. In 1973, the company began to produce other apparel at Salisbury. Its growth has been enormous, and Bennett & Fisher acquired it in 1988 who aimed at growing the company to global standards by doubling boot production and opening stores in USA and London. Bennett & Fisher sold RM Williams in 1993 to Cowley and Kerry. Cowley bought shares of Kerry before selling the Company-RM Williams, in 2014 to L Capitals who are transforming it through Vuppalapati.
RM Williams has witnessed a massive restructuring since its acquisition by L Capitals. Restructuring a company involves the corporate office acquiring then actively intervening in a business where it detects potential, in most instances; the company achieves this end by replacing management and implementing new business strategies. In 2014, when L Capital was acquiring RM Williams Cowley said that he is comfortable leaving the company in a good safe home for it. The first appointment made by L Capital was to elevate long-time CEO of R.M Williams Turner to the board and replaced him with new management. It poached Vuppalapati from Levis Strauss & Co where he had a 19 years experience where he oversaw the company report a profit of $2.2 million. Vuppalapati ambitions have been to double the production of the company within five years from 200, 000 boots and sell the extra boots at the international market. He proposed the opening of four new stores abroad to expand its market share. He, however, noted that the expansion would not dilute the ethos of R.M Williams.
Transfer of managerial skills and organizational capabilities are necessarily spread to multiple businesses. To effectively compete with its rivals, R.M Williams has adopted differentiation approach, and it boosts of resources, superior market position, and skills of its management. L Capital, the company that acquired R.M Williams went for experienced people to manage its affairs. Vuppalapati has over nineteen years of experience while Hamish Turner, who has been at the helm of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for a long time has been promoted to the board. The company has set base in various cities where there is a massive production. To maintain its uniqueness and sense of Australian brand the company has kept Adelaide as its boots-manufacturing center. At Salisbury, the company produces roughly 700 pairs of hand-finished boots a day. R.M Williams has embraced technology in boot making process. The company has been involved some business including the production of leather jackets, women boots, and kangaroo leather belts. It has also engaged in the print media where it runs Hoofs and Horns, and a national magazine started in 1944. In 1998, the company launched a new publishing venture, Outback Magazine that was overseen by Mark Muller. Sharing of activities at R.M Williams involves the establishment of retail shops in the various parts of the world and marketing the products. L Capital has its presence in the world; therefore, the introduction of R.M William brands is an addition to the company.
A company should effectively compete with its rivals if it has to remain in the market. The relative position of the entity determines whether its profitability is above or below the industry average. Competitive advantage possessed by R.M Williams is its brand name and geographical location. Although most of the products of the company are consumed locally, in Australia, the firm has established a base in various cities across the world. R.M Williams has embraced new technology in the cutting of the leather and boot making process. R.M Williams should engage in a vigorous marketing strategy since the company products are not well known in the world despite being worn by celebrities and big figures like presidents and prime ministers. Sue Morphet was quoted saying that R.M Williams has been a brand of discovery, it was a sort of brand one stumbled across or found out by word of mouth. The brand had received a boost and exposure to international markets when it was sold to L Capitals who are experienced, international operators. The company has applied focus strategy in its marketing the products. This might explain why its sales locally account for 90% of sales while the export in over 15 countries accounts for 10% abroad.
L Capital the company controlling the operations of R.M Williams has implemented a couple of functional strategies to ensure the growth of the enterprise. The procedures range from financial, production to organizational strategy (Hill, Jones and Schilling, 2014). An organization cannot venture in international trade without conducting thorough research to enable it decides to invest abroad. Production of boots is left at Adelaide while other apparels are manufactured elsewhere. The decision to have the boots production line remains in Adelaide to ensure that the brand ethos is not diluted. Vuppalapati noted that RM is unique in that the boots are timeless despite the fact that they were invented in 1932. On financial strategy, the company is focused to generate profit but not at the expense of quality. The financing of the activities of R.M Williams is through funds injected into it by L Capitals. RM has organized itself by engaging the services of highly qualified and experienced staff such as Vuppalapati whose aim is to steer the company to greater heights internationally. The company has identified a structure that best work for it, diversification of products it offers to the clients. R.M Williams is also engaged in production and sale of its apparel in different places except for the boots.
Elements of Organizational Design
The organization chart determines corporate communication, executive, and managerial hierarchy. It also creates a plan for dynamic growth for the future; six elements of the organization are used by the company to create a blueprint of how the firm is laid out as well as determining how managerial staff goes about affecting changes in the enterprise (Obel, 2014). R.M William would approach the elements of organizations, namely geography, some employees, product evolution, distribution of authority, control and marketplace in an appropriate manner for it to reach many customers.
Structuring of R.M Williams depends on the number of corporate locations needed. The company is ambitious in reaching a wide market area, and it aims at establishing its footing internationally. Retail shops opened and operated abroad acquire some autonomy for them to run efficiently. The hierarchy of communication should be set explicitly so that foreign branches maintain some independence while being accountable to the headquarters. Vuppalapati says that boots will continue being manufactured at Adelaide before shifting to other areas. Establishing manufacturing sites and shop locations should be informed by research to be conducted by the company.
Number of Employees
Expansion of the R.M Williams operations calls for expanded number of staff. As the enterprise is growing, it needs to be elastic enough to accommodate more staff and establish an efficient management. There is need to create different layers of management, at the headquarters, branches and retail shops.
R.M Williams started with the production of boots only when it was established in 1930’s. Over the years it has expanded its operation to include the manufacture of belts, hats as well as venturing in print media. The expansions drive to call for specialized departments to deal with a particular product. R.M Williams has decided to have boot production take place in Adelaide for the time being. Establishment of the specified units for product development and manufacturing affects the organizational structure of an organization; therefore, R.M Williams must be careful when establishing the departments abroad.
Distribution of Authority
The type of management adopted by R.M Williams affects the organizational structure of the firm. If it takes a centralized management system, it must keep all the main decision with one executive group, but if it employs decentralized management system, the entity has to allow branch and company managers to have a say in the decision-making process.
R.M Williams is selling its products in the main cities across the world where it has set its base. The market influences structuring of the company, R.M Williams sell most of its products in Australia. If it decides to sell its products through wholesalers in supplementing direct sales, the company should keep these two elements separate. It should establish an independent marketing team and sales force.
Higher product quality production demands strict rules and a regimented environment. R.M Williams is involved in the production of handcrafted products such as the belt, and its output is minimal. However, with the entry of Vuppalapati, the company intends to double production of boots, and this might have reduced control in the production department.
Barriers to Effective Communication
Communication is an essential constituent in the success of any business entity. Every organization faces certain communication obstacles (Kaul, 2014). Some of the impediments to effective communication encountered by a company include perceptual, language, emotional, cultural and physical barriers
R.M Williams is establishing its footing internationally. Different states have different cultures; people from the same country may be professing at various cultures. Employment of staff to oversee the functions of the company in those branches and retail shops invites people from different religions, states, and countries. The views of these employees might differ and thus impede communication. Perception by a member against another member influences the manner in which the staffs interact and work.
Expansion of the company and growth to international market reduces the proximity of the management with the subordinate staff. The senior management may not get adequate time to interact with other employees, or they may employ closed-door policy. The distance between the employees working in one branch or department may hinder the growth of the organization. The employees in one office or department may feel that they are different from the other employees. This kind of barrier forbids the creation of a strong team since members cannot interact with each other.
R.M Williams employs employees from various parts of the country. No universal language can be used when communicating with these employees. Sometimes there is need to pass a message in multiple languages to ensure it reaches every person. Translating the message may lead to distortion of information; thereby destroy the meaning intended by the speaker. The employees may also suffer from accents, thus making communication or understanding of the message difficult. This leads to poor service delivery or production of low-quality products.
The management of R.M Williams communicates its policies, goals, and strategies to its employees. The staffs might have a different opinion on what should be done to have an adequate production or quality. The different perception of the employee gives rise to a need for effective communication. Other staff members have poor listening skills when the management is passing messages, the workers may be inattentive, and thereby they end up missing important instructions or direction. The employees might suffer from emotional distress that stems from fear and mistrust and prevents us from communicating with the management and fellow workers.
Where the administration of an organization makes it impossible for an employee to visit the office of managers unannounced, the workers perceive the leader as unreachable. Therefore, if there is anything that the employee thought of communicating with the head, they keep it. Strict and rigid adherence to organizational charts alleviates the relationship in an organization. The flow of information should not only be vertically it should also flow horizontally where the employees are allowed to contribute in the decision-making process.
R.M Williams has been transformed over the number of years since its establishment in 1930’s. Its ownership and management have changed as well however it has maintained a quality of its boots and other apparel. Its new CEO and administration are among at steering the growth of the company to international markets. The company has employed corporate, competitive and functional strategies. The company should approach the six key elements of organizational design efficiently and at the same time dealing with barriers to effective communication.