Merriwell Bag Company
Merriwell Bag Company is a small, family owned corporation located in Seattle, Washington. The stock of the company is equally divided among five members of the Merriwell family (husband, wife, and three sons), but the acknowledged leader is the founder and patriarch, Ed Merriwell. Ed Merriwell formed the company 20 years ago when he resigned as a mill supervisor for a large paper manufacturer. Ironically, the same manufacturer formed a container division five years ago and is presently one of Merriwell’s competitors.
The family attributes the success of Merriwell Bag Company to the fact that it has found a market niche and has no “serious” competition. Merriwell supplies stock bags to many small chain stores scattered over a wide geographical area. It ships the bags directly to small regional warehouses or drop ships directly to the individual stores. The family reasons that the large bag manufacturers cannot profitably provide service to accounts on that small of a scale. In fact, Ed Merriwell formed the business with one second-hand bagging machine to provide bags for a small discount store chain and a regional chain of drug stores. These two organizations have grown tremendously over the years, and Ed Merriwell proudly points out that the Bag Company has grown with them. Today, these two original clients are Merriwell’s largest customers.
The Merriwell family does not want its business to be too heavily reliant on any one customer. Hence, they have a policy that no single customer can account for over than 15% sales. In fact, Merriwell Bag Company encourages its major customers to establish alternative sources of bag supply for insurance against stock outs because of paper shortages, freight line difficulties, local trucking/warehousing strikes, and production problems that may locally affect Merriwell’s ability to supply bags.
Merriwell does not aggressively pursue new bag customers, yet it...