What does Richard Combs Associates do?Compet
itive intelligence consulting
We consult in competitive intelligence, serving the needs of such global corporate clients as -

Alaco Limited

Ball Corporation

The Boston Consulting Group

Carnaud Metal Box Engineering Plc

Coffield Ungaretti Harris & Slavin

GAP, Inc.

Hart Shaffner Marx

Jones Day Reavis & Pogue

Kraft Foods, Inc.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industry

Monsanto Company


We work primarily at the front end of competitive intelligence -- the hunting-and- gathering part, as well as the analysis part. Hunting-and-gathering is a time-honored competitive technique, even when it's done with new technology. The colorized old technology cave painting below-right is from Lascaux, in south-central France, roughly 18,000 B.C.
We're still, some 20,000 years later, imaging and analyzing the game, even if the techniques and technologies have evolved. More windows and light in our caves. Less grunting and pointing, perhaps, but then perhaps not, come to think of it.
Hunting-and-gathering involves, as you might imagine, finding the hard-to-find. Its techniques are part art, part science, part experience, and, yes... part luck. We've legally obtained blueprints for a new factory in the wilds of Europe. We've found out why a company in Germany was building a modern new factory when none seemed called for, given our client's understanding of the market. We've explored the deep but disavowed relationship between a foreign head of state and one of our governmental agencies. We've done a number of things over the years. Some of our competitive intelligence projects are sketched out below.
We've been working in competitive intelligence since 1983, which is a long time for this business. Teasing the truth from a reluctant world is interesting work.
We couldn't resist including a few chapters of our venerable book, The Competitive Intelligence Handbook. Yes, we're finally doing the new book, due out in the summer of 2007, but the orientation to the field and the competitive intelligence underpinnings are as valid today as they were when the book was written. The search engines have changed, but that's what search engines do. Remember when AltaVista was king? Then it was Yahoo, followed by Google, followed by ASK. A colleague once said, keeping up with the search engine du jour is like changing a tire on a moving car.
Some of our CI projects...
Mirror Projects - how does the world see us?

They hired us to look at them in depth, at their own corporation, not at a competitor. Why? They wanted to know how a hostile intruder would perform. What would he find out? "Show us what would happen if our chief competitor hired a good CI professional to look at us." So we did. They found some of the results scary.

Get the truth.

"...to see ourselves as others see us."
Robert Burns 1759 - 1796

    Competitive analysis of glass packaging companies
    Find new markets for a newly-acquired conveyor company
    This small food company is written about broadly, but how is it run, really?
Decision support
    We did a project for a clothing manufacturer. They wanted us
    to talk to their peer companies, their competitors (they provided the
    list), about how they were perceived within the trade. The head of
    marketing had his own perceptions, but he chose this as a way of
    confirming what he believed, and chose a big annual meeting to drop this
    bombshell on everyone. "Much better than if it came from me," he told us
    later. Interestingly, this manager also wanted to get the attention of
    upper management, not just people who worked under him. It worked. We call this a-hold-up-the-mirror project.
Industry surveys
      Food industry - over 3 thousand projects
      Rigid container industry
      Glass packaging industry
      Ball screws and linear motion bearings
      Air conveyors and materials handling
Product surveys
      How successful is the American Express gift cheque?
      Can a hi-tech German shrink-wrap machine succeed in the US?
      How does the Federal WIC program work?
      Foreign influences on growth of Ford AG following WW II
Research and development
      What are the possible reasons for a food-coating problem?
Strategic analysis
      What are the capabilities of a Scandinavian chemical company?
      Locate a set of blueprints for a foreign company's new plant.
      Why is a German chemical company building a new plant?

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