Manitowoc Company Raises the Bar with Aid from Nicholas Center Students

The Wisconsin-based Manitowoc Company, a publically traded global leader in both lifting solutions (cranes) and food-service equipment, sought the advice of second-year Nicholas Center students to hone its operational and strategic thinking. Specifically, the Manitowoc Company challenged the team to provide them with a private-equity lens through which to view itself and to offer assessment and recommendations through this lens.

The Nicholas Center team set to doing a deep-dive into the world of private equity through intensive research and dialogue with those in the PE space. After extensive analysis, the team developed a PE framework and applied that framework to the Manitowoc Company. The team also enriched its understanding of private manufacturing through rigorous examination of private manufacturing case studies. Applying the framework included a visit to Manitowoc’s manufacturing facility on the shores of Lake Michigan, as well as consultations with some of the senior leadership.

With regards to operational efficiencies, the team focused on use of non-core assets, compensation practices, and benchmarking, to name a few. The team offered several action items based on this focus for the company to incorporate into its business plan. Turning to strategic imperatives, the team evaluated how well the company had taken into account identified risk factors in these imperatives.

Along with recommendations for operational efficiencies, the students shared their assessment of the strategic imperatives in their final presentation, which was well received by senior leadership. The students themselves enhanced their knowledge of how to strike a balance between short- and long-term profitability and of this particular industry.