Harvard Business School 9-501-012
Rev. April 5, 2001
E-Business Fellow Mary Neuner Caravella prepared this case under the supervision of Professor Das Narayandas. Some
individuals and companies have been disguised. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are
not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.
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Sam Marcus ran his hand over the curved maple edge of the next day’s shipment as he
listened to his sales manager describe the latest telephone exchange with Blackstone Homes, one of
their company’s largest customers. The smooth wood of the custom desk contrasted sharply with his
turbulent thoughts about the relationship with this customer, which promised such growth, but had
grown increasingly difficult to manage. Marcus had been running CMR Enterprises (formerly Mike’s
Cabinets) since he and his partner had bought the 25-year old architectural millwork company from
its founder two years earlier. Revenues from Blackstone, a new customer, represented a significant
part of 1998 sales growth for the small, Nebraska-based company, and he was counting on further
growth to pay his debt and fund expansion efforts in 1999. But as the residential construction season
warmed up with the spring sun, conversations with and about Blackstone had become increasingly
heated. Marcus knew something had to change before the summer crunch....