Global Auto Parts (GAP), Ltd. is a retail car parts chain with a network of company-owned

stores in Texas. The company was formed by Jack Hardwick in 1973. In 2004, Jack decided to

retire and transferred the company’s management and the responsibilities for the day to day

operations to his son John Hardwick.

By early 2007, GAP was having difficulties and Jack Hardwick decided to become actively

involved again in the company to turn things around. His first action was to hire Kathy

Rutkowski, CPA, CGMA, CFA from one of the Big 4 accounting firms to review current

operations and make recommendations.

John Hardwick’s Tenure

John had led a privileged life and his father did not feel that he would be able to operate the

business successfully, but he had little choice if he wanted to keep the business under family

control. Despite his MBA degree, Jack Hardwick did not feel that his son had the patience and

the general business acumen to operate the business. He was also fearful that he would recklessly

try to expand the business and lose interest if things did not go as planned.

Upon taking over operations in the beginning of 2004, John began to put a major expansion plan

into effect that he had worked on as project in his MBA. This plan had two major focal points.

One was to expand the number of retail auto parts outlets in smaller communities and the other

was to diversify the products provided at each of the outlets to include automotive maintenance

services such as tire changes, battery changes and fluids changes. A number of auto parts retail

chains in Texas had allowed a similar strategy of diversification and were successful.

In 2004, all the outlets were expanded to include bays for maintenance work. Sales of these new

services were poor over the next two years. To have their fluids or their tires changed, customers

had to leave the vehicle and wait for a considerable period of time in the reception area. An

appointment was also required. This was not as convenient as other stores where patrons did not

need to schedule an appointment or to get out of their vehicles and generally could have the work

done in less than thirty minutes. For more complicated maintenance work, GAP mechanics had a

reputation in the community of not being highly qualified. There had been a number of cases that

received extensive coverage in the local news, where GAP mechanics had made mistakes that

caused major damage to the vehicles they were working on. Instead of admitting they were at

fault and keeping damage to a minimum, GAP was taken to court a number of times and forced

to pay the repair costs.

In addition to its sales outlets in nine cities, in 2004 additional stores were opened in five other

cities. By early 2007, all outlets were underutilized. Local service stations with strong ties to the

community, lowered their prices and improved their customer service which increased



Prior to 2004, GAP’s workforce was composed of a number of experienced professionals who

had been with the company for years. When John Hardwick took over operations, he decided to

try to increase profitability by cutting wages and benefits. The result was that most of the

employees left and were replaced by less experienced staff. The sales staff was taken off salary

and put on straight commission as a means of increasing sales. The sales staff did become

“hungrier,” but the more aggressive practices alienated many customers.

In order to increase gross profits, GAP began buying more no-name car parts from overseas

suppliers. These sales generated a higher gross profit margin for the retailer initially and the

customers did receive a lower price, but quality concerns due to the parts’ durability,

performance and safety features soon caused sales and margins to fall.

A new accounting system was purchased in 2005 in order to better automate the record keeping,

payroll, billing and inventory functions of the company. The low-cost vendor was selected to

save cash to help expansion. This vendor provided very poor software installation and training

and then went bankrupt. GAP’s staff struggled with the new system and matters were made

worse by high employee turnover due to low wages and John’s disorganized management style.

A lot of overtime had been used to clear the backlog of clerical work, while customers, staff and

suppliers were becoming alienated over delays and errors.

In the first quarter of 2006, Jack Hardwick suspended all dividend payments. John had been

drawing too much from the company to fund his personal expenses.


Financial Statements

Income Statement

For the Year Ended December 31

2006 2005 2004

Sales 6,500,000 5,550,000 4,050,000

Cost of Goods Sold 3,965,000 3,385,500 2,430,000

Gross Profit 2,535,000 2,164,500 1,620,000

Depreciation 485,600 287,200 158,500

Other Operating Expenses 1,690,000 1,387,500 1,012,500

Earnings Before Interest and Tax 359,400 489,800 449,000

Interest Expense 331,956 160,125 50,645

Earnings Before Tax 27,444 329,675 398,355

Income Tax Expense 10,978 131,870 159,342

Net Income 16,467 197,805 239,013

Balance Sheet

As of December 31

2006 2005 2004

Cash 57,000 110,000 155,000

Accounts Receivable 95,000 59,000 45,000

Inventory 1,050,000 723,000 540,000

Prepaid Expenses 42,000 36,000 25,000

Total Current Assets 1,244,000 928,000 765,000

Property, Plant and Equipment 7,288,800 4,819,200 3,245,000

Less: Accumulated Depreciation 2,432,800 1,947,200 1,660,000

Property, Plant and Equipment, net 4,856,000 2,872,000 1,585,000

Total Assets 6,100,000 3,800,000 2,350,000

Accounts Payable 440,556 165,000 99,000

Line of Credit 570,638 353,000 267,435

Current Portion of Long-term Debt 325,346 162,000 41,461

Total Current Liabilities 1,336,540 680,000 407,895

Long-term Debt 3,253,460 1,620,000 414,605

Equity 1,510,000 1,500,000 1,527,500

Total Liabilities and Equity 6,100,000 3,800,000 2,350,00


Financial Situation

GAP has a $600,000 line-of-credit with Texas Investment Bank. The limit could be extended,

but only if the bank has sufficient loanable funds and the company is in a good financial

condition. The company must maintain a current ratio of 1.5, a times interest earned ratio of 5.0,

and can only borrow up to 50 per cent of the value of its accounts receivable and inventory. The

company negotiates separate term loans and mortgages to finance its capital purchases. Under

Jack’s leadership, GAP had an excellent relationship with its bank, but John’s poor management

and interpersonal skills had put this relationship in jeopardy.

Retail sales were paid for in cash or by credit card so there were no accounts receivable. Sales to

businesses made up to 40 per cent of sales and were on terms 2/10, net 30 with negligible bad

debts. GAP bought its auto parts from the manufacturers on terms 2/15, net 30, which was the

norm in the industry. Interest was charged on overdue accounts at 12 per cent per annum and

many retailers who got too far in arrears were put on a cash-and-carry basis.

A slowdown was forecasted in the local economy in 2007 due to the corn fields fires that took

place in the summer of 2006 and the collapse of the beef industry caused by the discovery of

mad cow decease in more than half of the farms in Texas.

The following industry average ratios (based on year-end figures) were available for companies

that sold both tires and automotive maintenance services:

Current Ratio 1.90

Quick Ratio 0.51

Inventory Turnover in Days 60 days

Account Receivable turnover in Days 30 days

Accounts Payable Turnover in Days 15 days

Fixed Assets Turnover 3.19

Total Assets Turnover 2.00

Debt Ratio 30.00%

Times Interest Earned 14.63

Cost of Borrowing 6.50%

Gross Profit Margin 42.00%

Operating Profit Margin 12.00%

Net Profit Margin 6.71%

Return on Assets 13.42%

Return on Equity 19.17%

GAP’s marginal tax rate was 40 percent.



Kathy Rutkowski had just returned to her office at the Big 4 accounting firm from a meeting

with Jack Hardwick in 2007. Jack asked her to prepare a comprehensive review of GAP’s

operations with a focus on why things have deteriorated and what can be done to improve

operations. Also, she was asked to make further recommendations on the future management of

the company.