Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 63 - Re-branding

          I felt compelled today to tell my landlady that I had lost my job. It seemed only fair. If I don’t get a new job soon I’m going to have to move out. If I do get a new job that is out of the area, I’m going to have to move out. Either way she needs adequate time to find another tenant. I like her well enough that I wouldn’t want to leave her in a financial bind. It’s interesting how the effects of unemployment begin to trickle down and affect people and businesses around us. I guess we’re seeing plenty of evidence of that all over.
*****
          A lot of the circumstances of individuals and companies impact the lives of those around them. This was certainly true of Quilnutz and the ways in which the unfolding romance of Fische and Alicia began to affect us all. Alicia had some strange notions of how the folks in Arkansas ought to be behaving. There was a lot of grumbling in Arkansas, and most of it had to do with the heavy handed and basically disrespectful way that their efforts were treated by executive management, especially the director of executive administration, Fische. As a rule the Arkansas boats were held to be of inferior quality and workmanship compared to the Florida boats. In fact, and certainly in the opinion of the Arkansas craftsmen, the opposite was true. There was certainly more evidence to support this conclusion than the other, but the Arkansas employees were constantly and repeatedly made to suffer Fische’s insulting and outlandish claims regarding the superiority of the Florida products. Even if he had been correct, which I submit he was not, this would have been a demoralizing and incompetent way to manage a group of proud and skilled workers. One humorous event underscores the practice and its fallout.
          The Florida unit took a boat in trade on a sale, and management decided to ship the trade-in to Arkansas to be sold there. Fische alerted the production managers that it was coming. He told them that when it arrived they should take all their employees out to look at it so they could see first hand how the Florida boats were built and the care and quality that went into their construction. When the boat arrived via flatbed trailer, everyone trooped out dutifully to view it, Fische leading the first group and happily pointing out the (to him) obvious differences between Florida and Arkansas assemblies. When he was finished someone quietly pointed out that the boat in question had actually been built in Arkansas. It had apparently been rebranded with a Florida medallion after it was traded in.
          The ramifications were obvious to everyone there except probably Fische who would not accept on face value what he had been told. The first and most obvious fact was that Fische didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. The second was that the Florida plant apparently didn’t have any problem putting their name on the boats built in Arkansas. The third was that the Arkansas workforce was going to continue to be disparaged and insulted for the simple reason that they were in Arkansas rather than Florida. This kind of thing went on forever, and the longer it went on the more disgruntled, demoralized and resentful the Arkansas workforce became. Eventually management’s opinion about Arkansas quality became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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