Joining Forces

The call came on a late Friday afternoon, the kind of news every purchaser dreads. Days before his back-to-school inventory was slated to arrive, Brad Young, Staples’ vice president of global manufacturing and sourcing, heard from one of his key vendors.

“Listen, Brad, I’m really sorry, but we had an explosion in our main plant this morning. Thank God no one was hurt, but it’s a major mechanical failure, and production is shut tight. We won’t be up and running again for two months. We can’t fill your order—the whole season is shot.”

In the office supply business, three-ring binders are a core strategic product. They bring customers into stores. Though Staples had multisourced the item, the downed plant accounted for 25 ...

Get Creative Conflict now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.