Letter / e-mail to a company

Chapman’s Ice Cream—Phoenix Rising ICE CREAM, in one form or another, has been a favourite treat for centuries. Between 54 and 68 CE, the Roman emperor Nero served “cream frozen in snow” (The History of Ice Cream, n.d.). During the 17th and 18th centuries, the French and Italians developed “sweet, flavoured ice cream” (The History of Ice Cream, n.d.). Today, ice cream is a North American dessert staple in restaurants and homes. Chapman’s ice cream business began in 1973 when David and Penny Chapman moved to Markdale, Ontario, and bought the local creamery. They began with four employees and two trucks and lived and raised their family above the plant. Today, the company employs over 300 people and owns 60 trucks (Our Story, 2014). The Chapmans began with the goal of producing great-tasting, good-quality ice cream at a reasonable price and became “Canada’s largest independent ice cream company” (Our Story, 2014). Most companies have their good and bad times, but rarely are they handed the challenge that the Chapmans faced on September 4, 2009. During construction work in the plant, a “welder’s spark fell between insulated panels. By the time the tradesmen welding a crossbeam noticed there was smoke coming from the building, it was too late” (Our Story, 2014). The building, which was made from wood, produced a fire that could not be controlled by fire departments from five neighbouring towns. The town’s water tower ran dry, and the building was completely destroyed (Our Story, 2014). Luckily, the company had recently completed building a new warehouse, which they quickly converted to production. With lots of frozen inventory, and with the help of other small, Ontario ice cream manufacturers who let Chapman’s use their production lines, the company produced its first ice cream seven weeks after the fire (Our Story, 2014). A year and a half after the fire, the company had built a new manufacturing facility in Markdale and was in full operation (Our Story, 2014). They called the new plant Phoenix (Our Story, 2014). Critical Thinking • Meeting the day after the fire, the management team decided to rebuild. In a small group or with a partner, consider what messages they would need to send and to whom in order to communicate the team’s decision and to keep goodwill among customers, Markdale residents, and suppliers. Brainstorm the various people or groups of people that would be affected by this situation, and decide what kinds of messages should be sent and by what channel? List your alternate answers. • Because of the company’s decision to rebuild in the small town of Markdale (population 1,325) (Statistics Canada, 2012), and because the company ensured that none of its employees missed a paycheque because of the fire (Cowan, 2011), people may have expressed their thanks and admiration for the company in comments on the company website. When replying to these comments, what should company employees consider as they write their responses?

• Have you ever written a letter or sent an e-mail to a company?

What might motivate you to do so?

Would you expect a response? How could the response affect your opinion of the company?

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