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Rock of Ages Company’s Value Chain Analysis


Strategic planning and management have become a very critical aspect of the success of businesses and developments in the past three decades. From 1980s consumers around the globe have become more informed and continuously demanded more in terms of quality and price (Howe, 2006). Again the globalization and high rise in technological advancements have given rise to high quality goods and services at reasonable prices like never before, creating a platform for competition among major businesses around the world thus compelling them to improve their good and services in order to remain relevant in this fragile market (Bayazit & Karpak, 2004).

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Rock of Ages (RoA), one of the many U.S companies has to wrestle with such challenges as changing business climate. For example, they are increasingly torn between idea of core business identification and market share, and failure to capture critical and valuable knowledge and experience from older employees or inability to transfer the technical knowledge to their new employees thereby creating a crisis of transformational change management.

This challenge is justified by the recent survey done by which revealed that 45% of U.S workers aged between 40-50 years have not seen any formal tools in place to capture their knowledge even when they are approaching retirement age (Bayazit & Karpak, 2004). Again it is quite clear that RoA is presenting itself as an all-inclusive business entity that indulges in manufacturing to retailing levels of business model, or what experts would say the strategic planning model.

Some of the models that have been used by the organizations to streamline their operations are like the basic strategic planning models that are used by small and upcoming organizations, the issue-based strategic planning entailing such areas as Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strength (SWOT), and the last critical model known as Alignment Model where the organization determines its area of the operations to ensure strong alignment in terms of its resources for its mission accomplishments (Bryson & Alston, 2001).

According to Howe (2006), this last model (alignment model) is very important for organizations that “need to fine-tune strategies or find out why they are not working or if an organization is facing many challenges in its internal efficiencies”. Rock of Ages, just like many manufacturing organizations, are quite aware of the importance of their quality in their products for survival and at the same time the financial ability of the target market (consumer) that they have to jungle in order to fit in the current and future market for sustainability. Still, they clearly know the importance of having a competitive age in a particular market segment, a feat that the new entrants in this same area of business have perfectly capitalized on.


Rock of Ages is facing Total Quality Management crisis. According to Bayazit and Karpak (2004), zero defects, and costly and long-term study is the most important factor in the total quality management and not the high revenue as shown by RoA’s emphasis spreading equal revenue to all their sectors from mining to retailing. Even though a new concept, the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) method of analysis has helped organizations to re-engineer, boost their supply chain management, planning for their logistics, project selection decision making, and performance measurement criteria (Howe, 2006).

I would therefore recommend Rock of Ages to improve is its manufacturing department management, since this is the area where they are highly recognized for their quality. Even though it may seem lucrative to diversify to other areas such as retail, it is highly advisable to develop themselves as mainly manufacturers of quality items that would help their retail department to have easy time in their area of specialization. To reduce the management complexities, instead of dwelling in all the aspects of production they need to outsource some of their services, as it is indicated that they do not incur any extra cost in production process.

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The other area that has presented a challenge is the skilled labor section which seems to be not moving with time. RoA needs to identify specific skills among its young employees, develop appropriate channel of knowledge/ skill transferability in order to boost sustainability of knowledge among the upcoming staff. According to Battistoni (Howe, 2006), large companies must be ready to support the initiative of knowledge transfer with know technology, which will reinforce critical information that the employees need.

These would be more effective if the RoA management identified specific approaches to strategies that must be implemented to reach each of their goals. These activities can either take the format of departmental changes, with each department having some specific committees with set of each objective to motivate plan of action implementation or complete overhaul of the central management system who set the strategic plans (Bryson & Alston, 2001).

Rock of Ages is facing one of the most critical challenges in the market that big and old firms have been facing since 1980s, competition from foreign and upcoming firms, who seem to have identified their particular market segment, thereby producing less costly monuments.

This can be a tricky aspect since they are known for quality and therefore it would sound ridiculous if they started importing cheap and low quality monuments to sell to their customers. Instead, they can approach the business by either buying or collaborating with an already existing business to help manage the low-cost segment of the business, as Bayazit & Karpak (2004) says, the high cost of living has pushed and will always push majority of consumers to value cost of an item rather that quality when doing or planning to do the purchasing.

This will boost their revenue and competitiveness and at the same time not dilute their brand of quality production to their clients, separating its core business of production from fringe retail activities. They should also be willing to do the monitoring and evaluation of their management plans in order to regularly reflect the extent of their goals achievement process. This would be mostly effective if customer’s response is used as the indicator in the evaluation.


In the management level, decision making has presented itself as the most pressing and challenging process. Decision makers are likely to intuitively feel that some factors are generally more important than others thereby giving them preference without critical analysis and consideration. However, a proper analysis, for example, with the use of Analytical Network Process (ANP), will produce a more justified and realistic feedback for the benefit of implementation (Bayazit & Karpak 2004).

Once this is done, the management can have what it takes to measure and evaluate what is lacking and what is needed to set the standards of performance and appropriate actions taken to streamline the activities of RoA. In general, the strategic management process should be looked at in terms of its dynamism and continuity (Bryson & Alston, 2001). That means that a change in one component can easily necessitate a change in the entire strategy of the organization thus the need to develop a management process in a strategic perspective rather than mixing the all the entire activities of the organization.

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Howe, F. (2006): The Board Member’s Guide to Strategic Planning: A Practical Approach to Strengthening Nonprofit Organizations. New York. Jossey Bass.

Bryson, L. & Alston, K. (2001). Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan: A Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, 2nd Edition.

Bayazit, O. & Karpak, B. (2004). An Analytical Network Process-Based Framework for Successful Total Quality Management (TQM): An Assessment of Turkish Manufacturing Industry Readiness, International Journal of Economics. Issue No.105.

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