Treetop Forest Product, Inc. is a sawmill operation in Oregon that is owned by a major forest products company, but operates independently of its headquarters. Treetop employs both unionized and non-unionized employees for its workforce. Treetop has one general manager, sixteen supervisors, and support staff. The mill is divided into six operating departments: boom, sawmill, planer, packaging, shipping, and maintenance. Typically the planer and shipping department work the morning 6 a.m. shift, while the sawmill, boom, and packaging departments work both the 6 a.m. morning shift and 2 p.m. afternoon shift. The maintenance department works the 10 p.m. night shift. Each department, except for packaging has a supervisor on every work shift. The planer supervisor is responsible for the packaging department on the morning shift and the sawmill supervisor is responsible for the packaging department on the afternoon shift, but the packaging department is located in a separate building from both of those departments resulting in infrequent supervision for the packaging department.
The market for building-grade lumber is very price-competitive, because there are numerous mills selling a relatively undifferentiated product. The only real differentiation comes from the packaging. To encourage its clients to package their products better Westboard Co., the large marketing agency that Treetop sells ninety percent of its product through, sponsors a monthly package quality award. Treetop won Westboard’s package quality award several times over the past five years and received high ratings in the months that it didn’t win. However, the mill’s ratings have started to decline over the past year or two to the point where several clients have complained about the appearance of the finished product and switched to competitor’s brands.
The last couple of years the planning and sawmilling departments have significantly increased productivity due to better...