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

Elasto Therm: The Next Step

by Jim Sharpe and James Weber

Abstract

Julia and Nate Burstein were living their dream running their own business and balancing the demands between their work and family obligations while creating a company that was responsive to their employees' and their customers' needs. The Bursteins had joined a large multinational manufacturing company after receiving their MBAs from HBS, but soon left to join Julia's family plastics business. After the business was sold, they struck out on their own to search for a similar business. They purchased Elasto Therm, with $8 million in revenue from manufactured rubber and urethane components, with their own cash, bank financing, and the seller, partly in the form of an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Initially, Nate ran the business and after a few years changed roles with Julia to stay at home with their young children for three years. The two were in charge as co-CEOs before Julia relinquished her responsibilities to be at home again. The couple significantly strengthened the organization's talent, focused on innovation, growth, and provided a learning environment for their employees. Through cost efficiencies and pricing strategies, Elasto Therm was able to achieve higher margins than their competitors and focused on low-volume, short-run orders as they continued to expand the business. The 2008 recession forced them to reexamine all aspects of the business, and it retained profitability after painful cutbacks in the organization. To continue their growth into the next decade, they are faced with the choice of acquiring other businesses or growing more organically by adding to their sales organization to achieve geographic expansion.

Keywords: entrepreneurial management; entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship; pricing; Pricing policies; Pricing strategy; pricing structure; sales force management; Acquisitions; work/family balance; work-life balance; Family-owned business; Entrepreneurship; Growth and Development Strategy; Expansion; Work-Life Balance; Manufacturing Industry; Rubber Industry; United States;

Citation:

Sharpe, Jim, and James Weber. "Elasto Therm: The Next Step." Harvard Business School Case 813-030, February 2013. (Revised September 2013.)