HBR Case Study
BY JOHN HUMPHREYS, ZAFAR U. AHMED,
AND MILDRED PRYOR
Inspired sales ploy or ethical breach?
be kidding me, Sam,”
Jeremy sputtered. “Chris brought in
the single biggest piece of business
we’ve won here in more than two
years. He’s our top performer! He
broke that logjam with Armadillo!
He was absolutely brilliant!”
From the window of his 10th-ﬂoor
office at Specialty Fleet Services,
sales vice president Jeremy Silva
spied two of the bright yellow repair
trucks of Armadillo Gas & Power a
block away, ﬂanking a rectangular
gash in South Polk near the old Paramount building. Getting Armadillo’s
lucrative ﬂeet-management business
had been a ...view middle of the document...
“I just never get any closer,” he said with a
sigh, collapsing into a booth with Jeremy and Fort, who were
already digging into a late lunch at Texas Two-Step, Amarillo’s
leading shrine to barbeque. Will was going to make them listen
to him vent no matter what, and Jeremy got him going.
“So, Dale didn’t like the FleetNet demo?”
“He sat and watched, didn’t ask a single question, and
shrugged when it was over,” Will grumbled.
HBR’s cases, which are ﬁctional, present common managerial
dilemmas and offer concrete solutions from experts.
1116 May09 Humphreys layout.indd 35
Harvard Business Review 35
4/3/09 10:41:25 AM
HBR Case Study World-Class Bull
FleetNet was SFS’s new
online system for providing
customized support to clients.
Using GPS-enabled modules
installed in every vehicle, the
system tracked location, miles
traveled, fuel efficiency, and the driver’s
behavior (speed, jackrabbit starts, hard
stops, and so on) in real time. It also
compiled maintenance and accident records, and tracked the cost of upkeep
and repair for every vehicle a customer
owned or leased, the vehicle’s up-to-theminute resale value, and countless other
data points of vital interest to clients’
1116 May09 Humphreys layout.indd 36
ﬂeet managers. It was consequently a thorn in Will’s side
that even though Armadillo’s
ﬂeet manager was enthusiastic about FleetNet, he had
to defer to Dale Landry, the
only person authorized to pull the trigger on a change in the company’s ﬂeetservice providers.
“Worst thing is Dale’s always encouraging me to drop by to make another
pitch,” Will complained. “I think he’s
Chris Knox licked barbeque sauce
off his ﬁngers. “Dale Landry…isn’t he
the guy with the hobby ranch by Palo
“Yeah, I think that’s him,” Will said.
“Only time he shows signs of life is when
he’s talking about his bull. He said he
showed it down in Lubbock last weekend, and it won some kind of a ribbon.
Fort nodded and stared at the pile of
bones on his plate. “Would you mind if
I took a run at the guy? I think maybe I
can get his attention.”
Will looked over at Jeremy, and Jeremy shrugged. “At this point, we’ve got
nothing to lose, right?”
4/2/09 2:17:51 PM
“Nope,” Will agreed. “I’ve done everything I can think of. It’s time for someone else to try.”
“The commission’d be all yours,” Fort
“Nah,” Will said. “It’ll take Armageddon to land Armadillo. If you pull it off,
you’ll have earned the commission – and
you’re welcome to it.”
“The two of you will split it,” Jeremy
said. “Fair’s fair.”
Fort did his research. Dale and Carol
Landry had inherited their small but
picturesque ranch (which Dale, being
a CFO, would have admitted was the
size of a rounding error compared with
some of the far bigger spreads nearby).
The Landrys had a small herd of longhorn cattle and, indeed, one bull in particular...