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Essay

Case Study: Local Company Goes Global

Buffalo Yummies!

Buffalo Yummies!

Background

A year ago, you took a job in the Human Resources department at Buffalo Yummies, a chocolate maker that began 80 years ago in the kitchen of the the current owner’s great-grandmother. The company has passed from father to son since then. It now markets low-priced chocolate to dollar stores throughout the United States and to charities for fundraising.

Last month, Beemster Chocolaatjes, a Dutch company headquartered in Leiden,  bought Buffalo Yummies. Beemster has been making deluxe chocolates for a discerning market since the 1800’s. The company began in the Dutch colony of Indonesia, where they had extensive chocolate plantations. After Indonesia gained its independence in 1947, Beemster moved its plantations and manufacturing facilities to neighboring Malaysia, where it has grown into the third-largest deluxe chocolate company in Asia. Much of that growth came from purchasing smaller companies in new markets.

Frustrated with its slow growth in Asia since 2010, Beemster decided to enter the U.S. market for the first time. After careful consideration, Beemster purchased Buffalo Yummies in order to have a base in the U.S. for their operations. Their raw chocolate will still come from Malaysia, but it will be made into products and packaged in Buffalo and marketed throughout the U.S. If all goes well, Beemster anticipates expanding next into Canada; Buffalo’s proximity to Canada was a major factor in Beemster’s decision to purchase Buffalo Yummies.

Beemster plantation

Beemster plantation

Beemster Chocolaatjes by the numbers

note: Beemster Chocolaatjes is a fictitious company based loosely on information found on the corporate web of Barry-Callebaut.

  • comprehensive excellence in the art of making chocolate and cocoa products: from sourcing and processing cocoa beans to producing the finest chocolates, including chocolate fillings and decorations
  • every cocoa bean used in their chocolate is grown in Malaysia
  • more than 30,000 employees operate production sites, sales offices, R&D and training centers in more than a dozen countries, mostly in Asia
  • more than 50 factories produce chocolate products in half a dozen Asian countries
  • annual sales of about CHF 5.9 billion (EUR 4.8 billion / USD 6.5 billion)

Beemster Chocolaatjes corporate goals and policies

  • Grafting cocoa trees

    Grafting cocoa trees

    Grow cocoa in an ecologically sustainable way that generates income for farmers and safeguards the environment.

  • Conserve natural resources, reduce our impact on the environment, and maximize waste recovery and recycling.
  • Provide a working environment where a global mindset, a commitment to success and the continuous pursuit of learning and personal development are key. Our employees are our future.

Buffalo Yummies’ Future

As a deluxe chocolate maker, Beemster has no intention of competing with Buffalo Yummies, so some things at Buffalo Yummies won’t change: same products, same customers, same marketing. However, other things will change. The chocolate manufacturing processes in the Buffalo Yummies plant will all be upgraded and brought into harmony with Beemster’s state-of-the-art processes used in Asia. Also, the processes in every other management department at Buffalo Yummies will be similarly harmonized with operations in Asia: marketing, human resources, finance, and R&D (research and development).

Beemster sees this integration as providing greatly expanded career opportunities for the whole 80-person management team at Buffalo Yummies.

The first phase of this transformation of management processes will be training. Over the next year, the members of the management team of Buffalo Yummies will be spending a total of several months in Asia. They will tour Beemster’s operations throughout southern and eastern Asia and receive hands-on operational training from their counterparts in production, marketing, human resources, finance, and R&D.

Beemster employees in Malaysia

Beemster employees in Malaysia

Human Resources

Beemster recognizes that this transition will not be welcome by all the employees of Buffalo Yummies. While they expect some attrition, Beemster’s long-standing corporate policy attempts to retain as many as possible of the employees of companies they acquire. They have charged the Buffalo Yummies human resources department with helping the management team understand the opportunities Beemster will be offering. If those employees choose to stay with Beemster and advance their careers, they will have to be willing to transfer for extended periods to one or more of Beemster’s facilities in Asia. With 60,000 employees worldwide, Buffalo Yummies’ 80-person management team can expect to find appropriate and attractive internal job postings in any one of half a dozen countries.

Cocoa pods

Cocoa pods

A primary concern of the Buffalo Yummies human resources department is the welfare of the employees. The HR director agrees with Beemster that the opportunities far outweigh the drawbacks. It is the director’s goal to minimize any attrition. He wants every Buffalo Yummies employee to stay with the company and prosper. His strategies to attain this goal will be complex and expensive. After taking a survey of the current BYummies management team, he found that they have roughly the same knowledge of foreign cultures as you had in 2014.

Ideally, they would all have the time to learn more about their career advancement opportunities by learning more about the countries where they might be transferred and where their training will take place over the next year. In reality, of course, they are too busy doing their current jobs. The HR director has asked you to help address that problem.

Your Task

The HR director has asked you to write an essay for the Buffalo Yummies intranet (internal company website) that paints for the busy members of the management team a portrait of the countries and cultures where Beemster has factories and offices, as well as several countries where sales of chocolate imported by Beemster contribute significantly to Beemster’s revenues. These are the countries where they will receive training and potentially be living and working.

The HR director understands that you cannot cover the whole culture of all those countries.  You can, however, paint a portrait, select some details into a coherent whole. The purpose is to give enough to pique the curiosity of members of the management team and include lots of links so that they can begin their own journeys.

Beemster chocolates

Beemster chocolates

Resources

The HR director has asked two experienced researchers from the Dutch home office to collect and categorize links and quotations relevant to the society and culture, especially the arts, of the countries in which Beemster has offices as well as the other countries with significant sales. This research is available at Hum300.toLearn.net.

The Dutch researchers have have written short essays about aspects of their own country that you can use as models for your own essay.

In addition, the HR director has reached an agreement with young people your age who grew up in the countries where Beemster has plantations, factories, and offices. These young people have agreed to answer your questions about their homelands both in person and via email.

Packaging chocolate bars at a Beemster factory in Asia

Packaging chocolate bars at a Beemster factory in Asia

Some of Beemster’s current employees in Asia will be involved in the Buffalo office, so they have sent a young employee from South Korea to write an essay focusing on the U.S. You will be expected to provide her with the same assistance in understanding your culture.

Essay Specifications

A 3,000-word essay full of images and links painting a portrait of some aspect of Asian culture. It is up to you how many countries and how many aspects you discuss. It is also up to you the extent to which your portrait includes positive and negative aspects. You can be all positive, all negative, or any proportion in between.

In terms of rhetorical mode, this is a comparison and contrast essay. You should be able to outline it on a grid: the countries are the column headers and the aspects are the row headers. The grid’s cells are all the evidence you glean from the course web and the links within it.

Your audience is Buffalo Ymmies managers who need to decide whether to stay with the company and if so, where they might like to work.

Don’t just assemble facts. Your essay should have a thesis or theme that you keep reinforcing. Characterize it. The summary characterization is your thesis statement. The data and images you collect from the course web are your evidence. Use the evidence to support your thesis.

Courtyard at Beemster's headquarters in Leiden

Courtyard at Beemster’s headquarters in Leiden

To help understand what I have in mind, look on the wiki for my profile of the Netherlands. It is about 750 words long, not long enough for your final essay unless you add a couple of the pages linked to it about bicycles and the world’s best DJ. Those pages get it closer to 2,000 words.

The thesis statement is the first sentence:

The Netherlands is a small, prosperous country in Northern Europe that outperforms many larger countries on a variety of social and economic indicators.

The rest of the essay supports that thesis with data and explanation. The pictures help, too.

karl_bike

Bike Rack at Leiden’s train station used by Beemster home-office employees

Here are two other examples of country profiles, both recent NY Times op-ed essays about Egypt by David Brooks: The 40 Percent Nation and by Thomas Friedman: Up With Egypt.