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An appropriate Labor Day question Did the union help to kill Studebaker?

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  • #91
    Originally posted by jnormanh View Post
    In spite of the incompetent management, NCR did have top notch scientists and engineers, and a magnificent manufacturing facility full of high and semi-skilled employees. The company grew and prospered, and by the early 1970s had 80% of the world market for business machines, and was second only to IBM in main frame large computers, and closing fast.

    In the summer of 1973 I sat in a top management strategy session. The subject was displayed on the conference table - a simple, solid state, four-function calculator. The executive geniuses evaluated this devise, discussed it's strengths (many), and weaknesses (virtually none), and pondered the way forward. After a bit the VP of engineering pronounced that this new thing would be an absolute flop.

    "Why so"? he was asked.

    "Because our customers will hate it. It doesn't make any sounds. Our customers want business machines that go clunkety-clankety-kaching."

    And that was that. The geniuses at the top of NCR threw away one hundred years of continuous growth and profit.

    I started sending out resumes the next day.

    Two years later the fabulous NCR factories in Ohio, Scotland, Japan and Delaware were smoking holes in the ground. The scientists and engineers were gone, the factory workers fired, the shareholders screwed.

    NCR had everything it needed to overtake IBM, become Apple, Microsoft and all the other high tech companies it wanted to be. It could easily have become the most profitable company on earth.

    No union could have reaped such destruction.

    Yes, the name NCR still survives. An also-ran computer services outfit.
    I suspect there's a bit more to the story than just that; at least as far as NCR's core business of making cash registers. Just two years later, the UPC was established where with anyone who had a product to sell had to print those fine lines on their packaging, and of course companies that would engineer and produce the scanners to read them which would do more than just register the amount of $$$ taken in at the point of sale. An electronic cash register would then have the capability to change the price of a given item in an instant making it come on or off a special price at the beginning or end of the day, do inventory control, inform the merchant what time of the month a given item sold the best, etc., among other functions. From what I remember, NCR was slow to think outside of the box and envision how a 'simple cash register' could do all this and left it to the competition to show that it could be done.

    Think of the sophisticated electronic gas pumps we see today that conveniently accept your money right then and there besides delivering fuel. Unlike NCR, they are still being made by the famous companies that made them 100 or more years ago who saw the changes and opportunities in marketing and took advantage of it.



    • #92
      In my lifetime I have been in a variety of employment situations. Sometimes, the person to whom I reported was extremely competent and I liked that situation because it provided an opportunity to learn from that person. There were other circumstances where the person above me was in the position because of their political skills. It was difficult to enjoy that circumstance because subconsciously it was realized how expendable you could be if the boss benefitted. People who can have a negative influence on an organization or its goals can be salaried or union.

      A friend who had come into a local company in charge of Industrial Relations said the mountain of grievances filed by union members was awesome when he arrived. He said the solution was that he quickly satisfied most of the grievances by granting the requests and gave attention to the balance.

      While in Michiana I heard stories about the union's responsibilty for Studebaker's demise. The former Studebaker employees that I observed were great workers. I'll go with a 5.
      "Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional." author unknown