Tag Archives: Optimize

Which is More Important – Cash Flow or Value Creation? Six Thoughts

Situation: A family-owned company has built a sustainable and modestly profitable business. They have built high quality, referenceable collaborations. The CEO is ambitious and wants to become a world-class company. They now seek limited partners as investors to grow the company. Which is more important – cash flow or value creation?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Both cash flow and value creation are important. There are several sub-questions to the question:
    • First, what is the fundamental business model?
    • Second, the CEO is the company’s charismatic leader. How best to follow his energy?
    • Finally, and most fundamentally, does the current business model make sense? Can it be simplified it to improve its scalability?
  • Currently there are three divisions, each with a different objective.
    • Operations – to be sustainable.
    • Services – low profit and low percentage of company revenue but also low overhead.
    • Investment – to achieve an acceptable rate of return.
  • How does the company get the best valuation?
    • Currently, the company is organized as a conglomerate.
    • Conglomerates are too diffuse and difficult to optimize to attract investors. Pure plays do better. Consider refocusing the company around its key strengths.
  • The family business model is fine. The question for the family – how does the CEO keep and attract the key staff like that makes this business work? Salary alone doesn’t do it. What are the future rewards for key personnel? Consider deal participation to incentivize key employees.
  • The investment and operations divisions are different companies – this is fine. Optimize both.
  • To attract the best LPs, the business model should evolve from a family to corporate model. This will make more sense to investors and improve their ability to participate in future growth and profits.

Do You Expand Production Locally or Internationally? Five Points

Situation: A company has built a very successful specialty manufacturing business in the US. Their manufacturing operations are labor intensive, with manufacturing practices optimized using motion studies and sharing best practices developed on the production floor. The CEO is evaluating whether it makes more sense to expand production in the US or to explore international options. Do you produce domestically or internationally?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • There are trade-offs between domestic and international production. Quality labor is available internationally at lower costs than in the US. However, risks include potential loss of quality control and higher levels of waste.
  • While investigating international production options, focus first on less critical operations where savings from lower labor costs outweigh the potential cost of wasted material.
  • Do not try to move highly controlled operations. These will include critical operations which require both an elevated level of operator skill and close supervision.
  • Before evaluating international options, break down the steps of manufacturing or processing to identify specific subcomponents or subprocesses that could be outsourced at reasonable risk.
    • For example, look at high volume parts where quality and variation in tolerances is less critical. These will be the best candidates for production in a lower cost, potentially lower quality environment.
  • How critical are trade secrets or patented IP to production? In the US and Europe there are strong protections for IP. However, these protections are not as strong in all countries. If production is outsourced to countries with poor IP protection, this may enable IP theft and create future low-cost competition.