Knowledge creation at Group Thermote & Vanhalst

This case is available at The Case Centre with reference no. 414-079-1

The case describes the evolution of a Belgian family owned company named Group Thermote & Vanhalst (TVH). The case zooms in on the situation in the warehouse at the time of the move from Gullegem to Waregem (2004).

Over the years Group Thermote & Vanhalst has grown so fast that the number of employees had doubled in five years’ time. By the turn of the century, the company faced an imminent knowledge shortage. As baby boomers began retiring or opting for part-time work and as the population of young workers continued to grow, the average age of the work force fell to 27 years. Young employees did not have sufficient technical know-how on parts which led to an increased error rate. To address the need for specialised knowledge TVH introduced coaching and training by mentors, i.e. the mature and experienced employees in the organisation. At that time, more and more young workers were deployed to take management positions and mature employees missed recognition for the hard work. Consequently mature workers showed resistance to cooperating in this mentorship programme. As open communication is part of the company culture, these mature employees rang the alarm bell and addressed the issue to top management. They were coping with a heavy workload and were reluctant to sharing their knowledge with their younger colleagues.

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