In 2017, the American cream cheese manufacturer Franklin Foods was acquired by the German cheese company Hochland to support its international growth strategy. Franklin’s strong market position, nationwide distribution, and two production plants offer Hochland a platform for the implementation of its brands and products in the US. Franklin Foods began producing cheese in 1899 in Vermont using fresh milk and cream in 1899, today its tradition of top quality, delicious taste, and dairy innovation continues with headquarters in Florida and SQF Level 3 certified factories in Vermont and Arizona. Franklin Foods continues to operate independently as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hochland SE.
Long Term Vision
At the time of the acquisition, Hochland defined its long-term vision for Franklin Foods to provide superior customer service, creating best-in-class products, and ensuring a company culture that strives to make a difference for customers and brands. Since then, the company and its people have continued to serve customers in a highly competitive and challenging business landscape, with relatively low margins, increasing costs, and little room for inefficiencies making the materialization of the vision take longer than anticipated at first. The objective is now to lead Franklin Foods to become the pride of the Hochland business portfolio in terms of company culture, efficiency, brand recognition, and profitability as an independent, yet strongly supported subsidy of a successful international company.
Data Driven Innovation
Extensive secondary and primary data mining, along with around 30 in-depth interviews were completed with customers, suppliers, and people on all levels of the organization to get a thorough understanding of the underlying issues and opportunities ahead. This was followed by extensive analysis, association, and design thinking to drive creative yet realistic proposals for action. The project was executed as part of the Harvard University management capstone course of the Master of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies. Graduate consultants from different parts of the world and diverse backgrounds prioritized four areas of expertise: competitiveness, profitability, efficiency, and people and culture.
Given the volatile and competitive nature of the industry, growth and innovation for Franklin Foods will genuinely be a collaborative, company-wide effort. Suggestions were made in the following areas: entering new unexplored product markets and customer segments, enhance employees' data-driven decision-making capabilities, and targeted investments for organizational efficiency and production agility to compete in a dynamic competitive landscape. The detailed roadmap lays out specific efforts to drive competitiveness, profitability, efficiency, and most importantly get people actively engaged in leading organizational transformation.