New business opportunities from crisis
Publication Type:Conference Paper
Source:Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2012)
This study reveals the extraordinary history of a Norwegian automotive supplier that went bankruptcy during the financial crisis in 2009. The crisis swept through the industry and hit hard for those actors who already struggled to keep up with the cost pressure. A few people kept faith in knowledgeable workers and innovative ideas, and the company arose from the cumbersome situation to become a sole supplier of critical wheel suspension systems to European premium brands. The company managed to ascend and invest in R&D and developed a patented innovation that saves weight, reduces number of components and saves cost. For this innovation the company won the national innovation prize in 2012, one that not only means glory and acknowledge but also full order books ten years from now with a tripled capacity increase. We have followed the company over several years, from year 2000 and until today, through the financial crisis, with focus on close participation and frequent interaction, especially with people from manufacturing, product development and management. The data shows interesting features about how a supplier can adapt to a completely new market situation by focusing on R&D, customer relations and co-creation, employee competence, and visionary leadership. A unique combination of these aspects has turned the situation upside down, and made a profitable supplier from a high cost country like Norway. The essence is that the crisis was not entirely negative - it also gave opportunities for those who dared to invest in human capital, technology and niche markets. By human capital we mean knowledge, problem solving skills, enthusiasm, and loyalty to the company. The technology developed reduces number of components from 34 to 1 and thereby saves about eight kilograms. Niche markets are automotive premium segment where we find producers like Porsche, Rolls Royce, BMW and Daimler.