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08 Jul 2013

John Mullins

Simon and his business partners built a successful freight forwarding business but after ten years there became a need to restructure the company. A verbal agreement was made but one week later one of the partners withdrew, forcing Simon to reconsider his options.

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Simon Cohen parked his Acura SUV outside his Monterrey office, let the fingerprint scanner check his ID to open the door, and jogged upstairs past the huge poster showing containers and cranes at the port of Manzanillo. He paused for a moment in the company’s boardroom. Here, a week earlier he had agreed with his business partners how they would restructure the company’s ownership, and build on the success of the last 10 years. “How could Thomas change his mind?” he wondered. Simon shook his head and strode into his office, wondering what to do.

Over the previous 10 years, Simon and his three business partners – his brother José, Manfred Jaekel and Thomas Kroeger – had built up a successful freight forwarding business, with offices in Monterrey and Guadalajara. Manfred and Thomas ran their own separate, and longer-established branch in Mexico City.

Simon had won some large, multinational customers, and had benefited from the increase in imports from China. By focusing on customer service, and by building up a hard-working team, he had grown bigger than the original Mexico City operation. There had been some friction over the years, but Manfred had proposed combining the companies into a group, and after some negotiation a verbal agreement had been struck on 15 August 2007.

But, a week later, Thomas had phoned to say that he would not go ahead with the deal they had agreed. Simon was forced to reconsider his options.

To read the case study in full, email innovation@london.edu.

About John Mullins

John Mullins is an Associate Professor of Management Practice in Marketing and Entrepreneurship at London Business School.


He teaches on the following programmes: