Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Bad Business Plan

The front page of today's Baltimore Sun sports section had an article about the closing of Maryland Stallion Station. The article for the most part blames the economy and the failures of Maryland racing. In my opinion, those were just the final two straws that broke the camels back. Maryland Stallion Station had a bad business plan from jump.

Let me start off by saying I have a great amount of respect for Don Litz, and his partners. They built an amazing facility, and brought in some very promising young stallions. The did a tremendous amount of marketing, and had client list that would be considered the "who's who" of the mid-atlantic horse industry. But..........The plan had a tragic flaw.

When they opened five years ago, the plan was to be a stand alone stallion operation. Have the mares shipped in, a quick trip to the shed, and shipped back out. This idea was different from all the other local farms that had stallions, pregnant mares, and mares with foal. Most of the other farms were one stop shops. At the time I thought it was very progressive thinking. Do what you do best, and nothing else. It only took a year to see that the numbers were not going to be in the favor of Maryland Stallion Station. I even spoke to a few friends that would not breed to a MSS stallion because of the hassle of shipping. Most owners with a heavy mare will send her to the farm of her next breeding stallion. It makes sense. The mare hangs out waiting to foal, delivers, and is bred back on her foal cycle. The plan has worked for a hundred of years, why change it.

The economy and the local industry were just a small part of the problem. The business plan is what put them out of business. It will take a few years for the proof, but all of the stallions were shipped to other Maryland farms to stand. I guess we will need a few years to see if it was the plan, the economy, or the stallions.

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