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Case Studies: Due Diligence

Client: UNARCO

Client Situation.

UNARCO invented the shopping cart in the 1960s and had been a leader in the market over that time. It had recently experienced a substantial decline in market share in addition to undergoing material changes in management and ownership.


  • UNARCO had over the years relied on its market dominance and individual relationships to make sales. This method appeared to be losing steam though the reasons for it were unclear.
  • Several major competitors had entered the market and were experiencing significant growth at UNARCO's expense and with a product that UNARCO considered inferior (namely, plastic carts).
  • UNARCO's investors were uncertain about whether or not to make further investments in the company given its poor performance.
  • Lighthouse was asked to address these general conditions of the company on a rapid timetable.
  • The company had not sought Lighthouse out as a resource but instead had been directed by its investors to hire Lighthouse. This created additional challenges given that management's role in the poor performance of the company was in question.

Lighthouse Role.

  • Lighthouse performed extensive customer interviews to evaluate UNARCO's position and perception in the market. It was believed that this information would provide the company with the objective insight (i.e. neither management's nor the investors') as to why growth had stalled.
  • Lighthouse simultaneously evaluated the management and manufacturing teams while preparing the study in order to assess a series of other factors believed to be contributing to poor sales results.


  • The Lighthouse study revealed clear shortcomings in the company's relationship with its customers as well as its sales approach. The study further offered insight as to the successes of the company's competition and the reasons why customers were favoring UNARCO's competitors. These insights gave the company and its investors clear, objective, and actionable data from which to make decisions going forward.
  • UNARCO had developed a poor reputation for customer relations and had not evolved to meet the changing needs of its customers. As a result, customer willingness to participate and provide feedback in the study was a challenge. Lighthouse was able to overcome these objections in nearly every case and to evoke thoughtful and extensive customer input.
  • The Lighthouse study was considered by all to have been performed objectively and honestly. With suspicions running high among all parties, this was a substantial achievement.

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