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Master of Agribusiness

Competitive Positioning in the Cattle Handling Industry

Fred Armstrong, Lakin, Kan, defended his thesis, “Competitive Positioning in the Cattle Handing Industry,” Friday, October 21, 2005. Armstrong is the Owner/Manager of Armstrong Custom Cattle Service., a successful feedlot custom-processing business in Lakin.

During the 1990s, many factors caused beef cattle producers to look for higher quality cattle handling service that could reduce product defects, which impact tenderness and presentation and ultimately affect demand. Armstrong’s firm quickly adopted a policy of flexibility and welcomed changes that came at the industry as far as improving productivity and meat quality. His goal was to develop a strategic plan to stay competitive and successful.

His firm was successful, but over time the company’s internal strengths and weaknesses changed providing the opportunity to again reassess their position.

“Understanding what has happened internally as far as being near 90% capacity and stretching our management constraints to the limit coupled with the external changes in the entire industry, has demanded our strategy to change from a differentiated provider of services towards being the low cost firm with the best value,” Armstrong said 

In a rapidly-changing industry, it is vital to beware of threats and opportunities in order to stay successful.

Dr. Michael Langemeier, Armstrong’s thesis advisor, said, “Competitive positioning involves an examination of a firm’s internal strengths and weaknesses.  This is particularly important when an industry is evolving rapidly.  Rapid change often brings opportunity, but it also requires a firm to reassess internal strengths and weaknesses.  Fred’s thesis examines competitive positioning in the cattle handling industry.”