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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What a difference a year makes

Here is an exerpt from my post of exactly one year and two days ago:

You cannot keep working people 70 hours and tell them they are getting farther and farther behind indefinitely. Eventually you have to either realize that you are in over your head and no amount of worker effort will change that, or you press on and destroy your work force. I warned our production manager this day was coming. But corporate attitude seems to be that we can all reach a bit deeper, find that elusive 30% more efficiency we must be hiding so we can work all this overtime.

The truth is, you have a plant on the edge of the breaking strain. They couldn't even give us an enjoyable holiday: make us work 6 hours today with the veiled threat of "we should have worked you Monday."

And one year later? I think we've had one Friday "nooner" for OT all year;  I saw at Meijer over the weekend patio cushions (our product at my company, for you newbies) 50% off already;  My son, who works at the Ft.Wayne plant (again for you newbies, Ft. Wayne does retail, me and Laurie are in Kendallville doing the dot com end), says that Home Depot just cancelled the rest of their orders for the season, leaving them with $160,000+ in finished goods alone in the warehouse; and he tells us that he's heard that KMart is selling cushions at 25% off already.

A lot has gone into this:  a very late arriving spring; our biggest market, in the south, being rocked with disaster after disaster (no sense in having a patio cushion if your patio is either under the neighbor's house or downstream somewhere);  an economy that has shed itself of its Obama-fueled illusions of good health; and, IMHO, last year everybody and their brother bought cushions last year and just don't need new ones this year.  We are down, I heard, 33% from last year- ironic when you figure that we were thinking that business might more than double this season.

The game ain't over yet for us- it is only June, and in dot-com land that means we still got a decent four months of potential.  Retail is all but done, though, and we took a bath there, it seems.

I've heard them threaten 14 hours in the past, so let me publicly state this- I will NOT leave this house at 5 am and get home at 9:30 pm, period. When they ask that, they will find themselves facing a much bigger problem.  As we look foreward to another Friday off, I say again- What a difference a year makes.


  1. CWM:
    Don'cha just LOVE it when you suggest something (factual, based on common sense) to a boss and later on, when they didn't pay attention, find out YOU were RIGHT all along?
    (that never gets old)

    The CONSUMER MARKET has ALWAYS dictated trends in retail (used to be behind the scenes years ago with that, as well).

    And production SHOULD be taking that into consideration when placing orders and thinking so far ahead (as they tend to do).

    Like I say...never hurts to be correct so often...maybe out of that 100 people you tell, ONE might listen, and that makes it worthwhile.

    And to think it was only 365 days ago, eh?

    Good post.
    Stay safe up there
    (that goes for YOU too, Scrappy)

  2. I'm not in retail, but I am in the industry that hauls a lot of retail - the trucking industry. Over the last couple of years I have seen some of the most ridiculous decisions made in an effort to generate more shipments. We spent over a year cleaning up one of the "genius" ideas and now we are cleaning up a second round of "genius" ideas that rolled down from the top of the ladder. Are't they the ones toting the fancy college degrees? How is it that they get it so wrong most of the time??

  3. Leslie:
    Much of our company is run by not-neccesarily-degreed types. Still, the point is valid- they've been at this a long time (I've been there close to 20 y myself) and as Solomon said, there's really nothing new under the sun.