Essay Sample #1: Whole Foods' Empty Shelves
It can be a frustrating experience as a customer to walk into your favorite grocery store and find empty shelves. In January 2018, Business Insider published an article titled "Entire Aisles are Empty: Whole Foods Employees reveal why Stores are facing a Crisis of Food Shortage" with the aim to reveal the cause of the food shortages at Whole Foods. The article seeks to understand why such a reputable company is experiencing the shortage. While he does bring some interesting views from employees and customers about the cause and effects of the shortage, the author fails to engage the company's executives. In the end, this article fails in its purpose to reveal adequately the cause of the food shortage, as it does not provide a reliable variety of authoritative evidence.
The article cites employees and customers from various Whole Foods stores. The employees blame the food shortage on a newly implemented order-to-shelf (OTS) inventory management system, which minimizes the unnecessary inventory, reduces costs, and frees up workers to focus on customer service (2). The article encompasses testimonials from store managers that although the system is reducing the amount of food spoiling in storage rooms, its "militaristic" nature is killing employee morale and leading to items being out of stock (8).
One primary problem with this article is the lack of valid evidence from Whole Food's executives on the shortage issue. Of the quoted statements from Whole Food and its Vice President, none touches on food shortage. For the article to rely so heavily on employees and fail to have a clear explanation from the company's view is inappropriate. In the end, readers may even wonder if Whole Foods cares about their satisfaction, especially when the company's explanation concerning the matter is omitted.
Peterson, Hayley. "Entire Aisles are Empty: Whole Foods Employees reveal why Stores are facing a Crisis of Food Shortage" Business Insider. 18 Jan. 2018.
Essay Sample #2: Nike's Struggle to Balance Cost and Worker Safety in Bangladesh
The article "Inside Nike's Struggle to Balance Cost and Worker Safety in Bangladesh", by Shelly Banjo seeks to educate readers on the difficulty of managing the twin priorities of controlling costs and maintaining acceptable working conditions. It focuses on Nike's internal conflict over whether or not to vacate Bangladesh as a source of cheap labor for its products to describe the difficulty. The article brings out clear facts about Nike's chronological order of events to the point where the decision is made, which ensures that it meets its purpose to educate readers on the difficulty of controlling costs and maintaining acceptable working conditions.
The article acknowledges that Nike's internal conflict over Bangladesh indicates that its efforts to clean up its act in the developing world, which started approximately 20 years ago, remains a work in progress (2). The conflict seems to arise from the benefits that arise from sourcing labor from developing countries against the destruction of its image. The article brings in a report by The Worker Rights Consortium that alleges violations of overtime and worker abuse by Nike's suppliers and a history of the company's bad reputation focusing on child labor and poor wages. Next, the article cites a Mr. Knight, Nike's Chief Executive Officer. According to Knight, the Nike product has become synonymous with slave wages, forced overtime and arbitrary abuse (5). But, the company took various measures to raise the transparency of its supply chain.
To such a lengthy situation, the article combines a variety of evidence and opinions to show the complexity of the problem. For example, in 2005, the company faced a wildcat strike of 13,000 workers at Chang Shin Vietnam Co. (5). Shortly after solving that problem, Nike's soccer balls for 2006 World Cup were linked to child labor, a problem that had shamed the company a decade earlier (5). Still, the manufacturing team looked to Bangladesh as an answer to increase Nike's profit margins arguing that the company could scout for responsible factory owners to manage production safely. Thus, the article cites Eric Sprunk, Nike's Chief Operating Officer. Sprunk asks, "Are we going to increase our source base there or not?" (2). Next, it cites Ms. Jones, Nikes Chief Sustainability Officer who answers, "We are not going to do that" (7). Finally, the article ends with the executive deciding to visit various manufacturers in Bangladesh to ensure they have sufficient information before making their decision. The visit leads to the termination of a contract with Lyric Industries due to its deplorable working conditions.
The article is a good description of how difficult it can be for companies to manage the twin priorities of controlling costs and maintaining acceptable working conditions. The article includes many previous examples of Nike's bad reputation as it sought to produce its products at low costs. Additionally, the article quotes various managers at Nike, which adds credibility to the article as a whole. Similarly, the article is unbiased since it incorporates the views of all the people involved in the decision-making process. Finally, although the executives agree on their decision, the article engages the reader through the difficult process of arriving at that decision effectively. Thus, it achieves its purpose of educating readers on the difficulty of managing the twin priorities of controlling costs and maintaining acceptable working conditions.
Banjo, Shelly. "Inside Nike's Struggle to Balance Cost and Worker Safety in Bangladesh." 24 April, 2014.
Essay Sample #3: The Beginning
Picture America in the 1880s. The skyscrapers and tarmacked roads were inexistent. Transportation was by carriages and most people lived in rural areas. This was the scene when, one day in 1886, a jewelry firm based in Chicago shipped some gold-filled watches to an unsuspecting jeweler in a Minnesota hamlet. The shipment marked the beginning of a chain of events that contributed to the inception of Sears.
Richard Sears received the shipment of the unwanted watches from Redwood Fall's jeweler. He decided to buy and sell them. The profit he made motivated him to order more for resale. In 1886, he started the R.W Sears Watch Company in Minneapolis. In 1887, Sear relocated to Chicago and sought to hire the first employee. The advertisement on the Chicago Daily News read:
"WANTED: Watchmaker with a reference who can furnish tools. State age, experience, and salary required. ADDRESS T39, Daily News."
Alvah C. Roebuck, an Indiana boy, answered the advertisement. He told Sears that he knew about watches. He even brought a sample of his work as proof. Sears employed him, which marked the start of an association of two young men ready to make their names famous. They named the new partnership Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1893.
In the 1890s, the business changed gears to become a mail-order firm. While the original catalogs presented just watches and jewelry, the new company's catalog featured many items ranging from apparels to furniture. During this period, farmers in rural America were suffering from bloated prices by rural general stores. Sears saw this as an opportunity to grow their firm. He understood the farmers' needs and wishes. Better yet, he could write marketing copy that made farmers send their money and orders to Sears, Roebuck, and Co. The company even adopted the motto "Shop at Sears and Save." Under Sear's leadership, the firm's sales reached $400,000 in 1893, and in 1895, they surpassed $750,000. In the same year, Sears signed a formal agreement with Julius Rosenwald, which according to Peter Ascoli "the $37,500 investment in the fledgling mail-order house would eventually be seen as one of the most brilliant decisions in America business history."
Sears was grandiose in his approach to business practices, took risks, and believed that the success of mail order was a trend that would lose its appeal if new "schemes" were not integrated to keep it fresh. His business practices were so impulsive and whimsical that Roebuck resigned from the firm in 1897. Moreover, the sixteen-hour workdays and an impending sense of financial collapse were more than the timid watch tinkerer from Indiana could handle. Rosenwald became the company's vice president and Sears retained the presidency.
The business grew fast. So fast that in 1906, with more than 3 million square feet of floor space, Sears was the largest business building in the world. In the same year, it opened an office in Dallas, Texas. The plant offered its customers various advantages such as lower freight rates, quick delivery, and minimized damage to goods. Additionally, the company sold common and preferred stock on the open stock and has been publicly owned since then. Sears wrote:
"If with this trial we can get any success, the next place will get the kind of preparation that will ensure success, and encourage us to cover the United States rapidly with 10 or more branches."
Sears decided to resign officially as the company's president in 1908. Rosenwald took over and in the years that followed, the company continued to perform well. However, the boll weevil and the depression that struck America in the 1920s had a massive impact on the company, which saw its decline.
Ascoli, Peter M. Julius Rosenwald: The man who built Sears, Roebuck and advanced the cause of Black education in the American South. Indiana University Press, 2006.
Emmet, Boris, and John E. Jeuck. Catalogues and Counters; a History of Sears, Roebuck and Company. University of Chicago Press, 1950.
Hancock Jr, Jerry R. "Dixie Progress: Sears, Roebuck & Co. and How it became an Icon in Southern Culture." (2008).
Howard, Vicki. "The Rise and Fall of Sears." 25 July 2017. Web 28 Sept. 2018. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/rise-and-fall-sears-180964181/
Schleier, Curt. "Julius Rosenwald Built Sears, Roebuck and 5,000 Schools." 16 Sept. 2016. Web 28 Sept. 2018. https://www.investors.com/news/management/leaders-and-success/julius-rosenwald-built-sears-roebuck-and-5000-schools/
Williams, Roy H. The Wizard of Ads: Turning Words into Magic and Dreamers into Millionaires. BookBaby, 2012.
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