Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2013 (Revised February 2013)

Wayne Ferrari: iAutomation at a Crossroads

by Jim Sharpe and Michael Norris

Abstract

Wayne Ferrari has bridged the gap between being an independent entrepreneur and a "professional manager." After selling his business to a Private Equity (PE) firm, Ferrari takes on the role of CEO and with their support implements a roll-up strategy to attain growth through acquisition in the mechanical controls distribution industry. Ferrari received support from the PE firm in negotiating and financing acquisitions but faced the challenging task of integrating them into the core business. Getting all the operations on a common IT platform proves more challenging than he expected. Developing an organization that supports a new strategy of application support for their customer base requires a change in culture and an evolving leadership challenge for the business. The most immediate challenge is to implement a "pricing" model to be used with all customers that takes into consideration a variety of customer specific characteristics to set optimal pricing for quotations. On "go live" day, the sales force "is up in arms" requesting that their "special customer deals" be sheltered from this new system. The case outlines a brief history of the business, the changes over the last six years and details on the challenges Ferrari faces as iAutomation continues to expand.

Keywords: entrepreneurial management; entrepreneurial organizations; entrepreneurship; leveraged buyouts; roll-up; career planning; Acquisitions; pricing; Pricing policies; Pricing strategy; pricing structure; Acquisition; Entrepreneurship; Private Equity; Distribution; Integration; System; Electronics Industry; Distribution Industry; United States;

Citation:

Sharpe, Jim, and Michael Norris. "Wayne Ferrari: iAutomation at a Crossroads." Harvard Business School Case 813-120, February 2013. (Revised February 2013.)