As investment bankers to a wide variety of closely held companies we sometimes witness business owners investing heavily in new production output “capacities” (new equipment, new hires, plant expansions, or even acquisitions) well before they’ve properly established the full “capability” to put that new or expanded capacity to work on an optimized basis.
Generally the goal of creating new production or service capacity is to take advantage of a market opportunity, stay competitive, and create increased enterprise value in the business.
In this context “capability” is the condition of being sure your key team members have the know-how to produce the expanded product or service output. It also means having codified the processes employed to produce your product or service, so that new members to the team can also generate the product or service without any diminution in the quality or effectiveness to the customer. And it means you have the disciplines in place to continue producing the product or service with the same or better level of customer satisfaction, product integrity, and product reliability. It may also mean that you are continuously keeping an eye out for product relevance in your industry and marketplace, as well as being aware of what your competitors are doing and alternatives to your product or services.
Without being sure the capabilities are in place to get the greatest benefit from your new investment, you risk losing the financial advantage you expected. That new capacity (higher production rates, faster throughput, better engineering or design, or systems to reduce materials procurement costs, labor inputs, or transportation and logistics expenses) should be able to deliver measurable improvement in key financial metrics soon after the new investment in the capacity has been made.
While both capability and capacity can sometimes be developed concurrently it is often not advisable to make large capacity investments before you are sure you can provide the associated capability to optimize use of that new equipment, factory addition, acquisition, or expensive new talent.
Taking the time to plan on incorporating these two key elements of growth will help you more confidently achieve the goals you envision by adding new capacity.
For more information on this topic or assistance in expanding your company’s capabilities and capacities, and confidence, please contact your nearest CFA investment banker.