Alex Rogo, the protagonist of the story, manages a failing manufacturing plant for the corporation UniCo in the small American town of Bearington. Although Alex’s plant appears efficient on paper and is full of knowledgeable… read analysis of Alex Rogo
Jonah is a scientist who becomes a business theorist and helps Alex save his plant. Alex, Jonah’s former student, reconnects with Jonah randomly in an airport. When Alex talks about his plant, Jonah intuits all… read analysis of Jonah
Julie is Alex’s wife. Both in the years preceding and during the story, Julie resents Alex’s over-commitment to his career and feels that he neglects her, representing the negative impact that a corporate career… read analysis of Julie Rogo
Bob is Alex’s production manager at the plant. Although Bob has decades of production experience, he feels loyal to their traditional manufacturing practices. When Jonah proposes changing how the plant measures its productivity, advocates… read analysis of Bob Donovan
Lou is Alex’s plant controller (chief accountant). Although Lou is both intelligent and experienced, Alex notes that he initially makes the same wrong assumptions as anyone else about why the plant fails (poor workers… read analysis of Lou
Ralph is Alex’s data coordinator at the plant, measuring statistics and operating the computers. Although Ralph is part of Alex’s senior staff and participates in implementing Jonah’s ideas, he plays a lesser role… read analysis of Ralph Nakamura
Bill Peach is Alex’s boss and UniCo’s division manager for most of the story. In the opening of the novel, Peach confronts Alex about his failing plant and tells Alex that if he can’t… read analysis of Bill Peach
Hilton Smyth is a plant manager for UniCo, Alex’s rival, and the story’s only true antagonist. Smyth adheres strictly to traditional corporate methods and metrics, making him a foil for Alex, who embraces new… read analysis of Hilton Smyth
Dave is Alex and Julie’s young son and Sharon’s brother. Because of his career, Alex struggles to spend time with Dave. However, when Dave takes Alex on the Boy Scout overnight hike, Alex… read analysis of Dave Rogo
Sharon is Alex and Julie’s daughter and Dave’s sister. Because of his career, Alex struggles to spend time with Julie, even though Julie yearns for attention from him. However, as Alex learn to… read analysis of Sharon Rogo
Ethan Frost is Bill Peach’s division controller (chief accountant). Although Frost initially chastises Lou for abandoning traditional corporate metrics and devising his own, Lou eventually convinces Frost that the methods they use are deeply… read analysis of Ethan Frost
Johnny Jons is Bill Peach’s head of sales. Although Jons is skeptical when Alex asks him to generate more sales by promising quick delivery times, after Alex starts shipping complex orders in record time… read analysis of Johnny Jons
Alex’s mother lives in Bearington, the town in which Alex grew up and now runs his manufacturing plant. As a widower, Alex’s mother lives alone and rarely sees Alex or his kids, Dave and… read analysis of Alex’s Mother
Bucky Burnside is a client of Alex’s plant. In the beginning of the story, Burnside is furious because his order is months overdue. However, when Alex delivers a difficult order for Burnside in a short amount of time, Burnside makes Alex’s plant his preferred supplier.
Ada is Julie’s mother, whom Julie goes to when she is considering divorcing Alex. Ada agrees with Julie that Alex neglects Julie in their marriage.
Herbie is an overweight Boy Scout who is the slowest of the hikers. In the hikers’ symbolism of Alex’s plant, Herbie represents the bottleneck (the stage in the process with the lowest maximum capacity).
Fran is Alex’s secretary.
Mike O’Donnell represents the labor union in Alex’s plant.
Ron is one of the hikers.
Evan is one of the hikers.
Andy is one of the hikers.
Ben is one of the hikers.
Chuck is one of the hikers.
Mike Haley is a foreman at Alex’s plant who develops a faster way to operate the bottleneck heat-treating machine.
Neil Cravitz is an auditor who reports to Ethan Frost.
Dick Pashky is a marketer who reports to Johnny Jons.
J. Bart Granby III
Granby is the CEO of UniCo.
Pete is a supervisor in Alex’s plant.
Ted Spencer is a supervisor in Alex’s plant.
Jane is Julie’s friend.
Goldratt is the primary author of the story, an Israeli business theorist and the creator of the revolutionary Theory of Constraints. Many businesspeople regard Goldratt as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century.