Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2011 (Revised May 2011)

Utilis: Designing, Producing, and Selling Rapid Deployment Shelters for a Troubled World

by Herman B. Leonard, Daniela Beyersdorfer and Simon Harrow

Abstract

How can a company that supplies disaster response and humanitarian agencies best handle the intrinsically unpredictable and highly volatile demand for its products? Utilis is a French supplier of rapid-deploy high-end tent solutions for civilian and military uses (such as camps and field hospitals). In 13 years it developed from a start-up garage business into a successful firm of global reach and reputation. In 2010 its founder and CEO Philippe Pr vost must decide the product and market strategy for the next phase of development allowing the company to remain competitive in terms of price and cutting edge products. Should they outsource some of their production to Eastern Europe? Market their products to new customers like non-governmental organizations? Diversify into new shelter product areas? So far their small size and nimbleness had allowed the company to thrive -- but would their deeper penetration into the market of disaster and emergency response (where contracts were smaller and peaks and troughs in demand larger) still be compatible with their business model?

Keywords: Business Model; Growth and Development Strategy; Demand and Consumers; Strategic Planning; Natural Disasters; Competitive Strategy; Consumer Products Industry; Industrial Products Industry; France;

Citation:

Leonard, Herman B., Daniela Beyersdorfer, and Simon Harrow. "Utilis: Designing, Producing, and Selling Rapid Deployment Shelters for a Troubled World." Harvard Business School Case 311-096, February 2011. (Revised May 2011.)