Outrunning The Pace Of Change

The new millennium brought with it a feeling that many changes were on the horizon. The unknown impacts of the mysterious, so-called “millennium bug” were expected to cause immediate disruption as soon as the clocks ticked over to the new year. Computers were expected to crash, sending entire cities back to the stone age. New years eve 1999 felt as though it was the final celebration before disaster hit.

The directors of Maughan Thiem spent many months understanding the possible implications of this threat. Countless hours of preparation were made with the software and hardware support staff of the business to ensure that harm was minimized. The management team even worked with customers and suppliers of the company so that every step in the supply chain was protected.

When the year 2000 did arrive, all the preparation and planning paid off and there was no disruption at all. A huge, collective sigh of relief was felt across the globe. We had entered the new millennium.

The next challenge to be faced was the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) on 1st July 2000. For decades the federal government had been collecting a wholesale sales tax, relying on businesses to calculate and remit this impost at the point of the last wholesale sale in the chain of transactions. It was, in many ways, a hidden tax as it was rarely disclosed on the final sales invoice to the customer. The GST, however, was levied at every point along the chain and was highly visible. There was much public mistrust about the impact of the GST, and the federal government had an uphill battle convincing voters of its worth. For businesses, the changes to internal tax collection processes were substantial and proved to be a large distraction from the day to day efforts required to keep activities profitable.

In spite of the upheavals of the first half of 2000, Maughan Thiem’s directors knew that they had to continue to grow the enterprise. The search for new franchises and increased sales volumes was never far from the board agenda. So, when a successful approach was made to the owner of City Mazda at Hindmarsh to buy that business in the second half of 2000 it fitted perfectly with the strategic direction of the Maughan Thiem board.

A staff bulletin published by the board on 20th November 2000 set out the reasoning behind the transaction. It noted that ……. “City Mazda is an organization with an excellent reputation, similar in “business style” to Maughan Thiem. It is quality assured, and currently sits at number one position in Mazda’s customer satisfaction index measurement for South Australia.” It went on to say …… “It is Maughan Thiem’s intention to take over the operation of City Mazda from Monday 4th December 2000.” The bulletin concluded with ….. “This acquisition is an excellent opportunity to work towards the continued growth and viability of Maughan Thiem Motor Company Pty Ltd.”