Case study: Hana Ltd.
Hana Ltd. is a producer and importer of freshly cut flowers based in the country side village of Tagus. It has made a name for from its gerberas, roses, carnations, and tulips, although the portfolio includes a range of itself other products. Tulips and some special flowers are imported from the Netherlands. Products are sold at its premises to florists, in the trade market to wholesalers and retailers, and directly to a large retail chain. The market for fresh flowers is very competitive, with significant pressure over prices. There is
high seasonality in supply (e.g. spring and early summer) and demand (e.g. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas). When there is a significant mismatch between those supply and demand, prices can fluctuate widely, from ‘rock bottom’ prices that do not cover production costs to ‘sky high’ prices that make very generous profit margins. In addition to price, the market values highly product freshness, reliability of supply, speed of delivery, and range products available (including color variations).
The company owns part of its productive land and part of it is on a long-term land lease. All production of flowers is carried out in a series of greenhouses that Hana built and fully owns. Flower production facilities (greenhouses) are fitted with temperature and humidity control equipment that automatically opens the greenhouses to air circulation when temperature is too high and heats it up when the temperature is too low. The company uses its own two tractors to plough the land and to haul trailers. The trailers carry fertilizers, seedlings for planting, and occasionally pesticides to the greenhouses. The plants, seedlings, shrubs, and bulbs planted by Hana are mostly imported to ensure the highest quality, productivity, and diversity of color variations. The trailers also carry freshly cut flowers back from the greenhouses to the processing and packing facility (as well as the green waste that is sent to a local dump) . After processing and packaging, products are kept in one of three refrigeration units to prolong the life of
Hana currently employs 70 full-time staff, which represents the double of its size just four years ago. The company’s manager and founder, Mr Ting Tong, is an entrepreneur with twenty years of work experience in the sector but no training in management. He is directly assisted by his wife, Mrs Ming Tong, who manages the sales office and inventories. Like her husband, she has no formal training in management, but she is extremely energetic and outstanding in dealing with customers, a true asset to the company. Hana has a dedicated team of three salespersons working in the office at its premises, one accountant, two distribution employees, one foreman and one forewoman. The remaining employees work in the production, processing, and packaging of flowers, making flower production a labor- intensive activity. During peak times of production, part-time employees are hired on a need basis and on-going staff is paid for overtime work. All of the company’s employees are paid a fixed salary, plus any extras from overtime work.
The main building where the company operates houses the all administrative staff, the sales office, a product display area, the processing and packaging facility, and the refrigeration units. Workers are moved to and from the company’s main building, as well as between greenhouses, using two fully owned mini-vans. The company also uses its own fleet of three trucks (with cooling) to distribute products to customers and to take production to the trade market.
The company’s growth has created difficulties to Mr Tong in ensuring the timely payments to employees and suppliers. He is also finding a bit overwhelming to have a feel for how the company is doing, now that the scale of operations has grown to an unprecedented level. At the moment, there is no formal planning in the company; only rough estimates of revenues and the main cost items are prepared by Mr T o n g in his paper notebook. The company’s accountant role has been that of dealing with financial accounting matters and ensuring the company meets its legal tax obligations.
Another issue that Hana currently faces is the management of sales of products in short supply. These products cannot be sold to the first customer that comes through the door, but rather they need to be meticulously managed so that the orders from regular customers can be at least partially satisfied. Mrs Tong noted that the salespersons, who have been informally assigned to specific customers, frequently lacked an appreciation for this issue in their eagerness to meet their assigned customer’s requirements. No doubt Hana wanted a proactive sales team, but the sales push needed to be directed to products in good supply, not for those that can “sell for themselves”.
- Conduct some researchto explain the value of cost classifications for Hana Ltd. and how this may assist Mr and Mrs Tong in improving their decision-making processes.
- Conduct some researchinto costing techniques that Hana Ltd. might find useful. Based on this research and using the detail in the case, choose a specific technique (or set of techniques) that you believe would be most suitable. Describe specifically how your chosen technique(s) could be used by providing tangible examples of how they would operate within Hana Ltd. It should be clear from these examples how Hana Ltd. would determine a product cost for their products. Also, briefly describe why you consider your chosen technique(s) to be superior to other techniques.