Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 90 - It Ain't Finished Inventory Until the Fat Lady Sings

          It was another dry day on the job boards. After several days of elevated spirits because of the two idiot recruiters, I am once again resigned to a bleaker reality. My wife and I discussed where we might go to live when we move out of here. The most viable option right now seems to be for us to move in with our youngest son. He has a little house near Tampa, which is about an hour and a half from here.
He has a live-in girlfriend with two teenage daughters. The relationship is not working out for him. The girlfriend is mean, petty, and argumentative. She either can’t or won’t discipline her girls, so their behavior is becoming increasingly problematic. He has told her that they have no future together, and asked her to move out. So far she has not. Our son thinks that if his mother and I decide to move in with him, the girlfriend will be more motivated to finally leave. It is comforting to know that, after these several months of unemployment and purposelessness, I will once again be useful for something to someone.
          Richard Hardin wasn’t the only author of bone-headed decision making at Albatross. He was the head boy to be sure, but he was supported by a cast of minions eager to take up the challenge when he went back to the U.K. to direct the wreck of our once proud company from afar. Chief among these minions at the time was the Director of Operations. Let’s call him Ben DeLeon.
When I got the plant tour during my interview, the Alabama controller told me that Albatross had been planning to build another plant in the area to add capacity, but that Ben had done such a fantastic job of reorganizing their production lines and freeing up space on the plant floor they no longer needed to build another facility.
It was a wonderful story that I tried to take to heart, but when I looked around at the endless stacks of parts queued up in front of and behind every machine in the place I had to wonder how bad things had been before Ben got there.
Then I met Ben and spent twenty minutes or so with him in a conference room while he asked me questions about my background and tried to explain his vision for the future at Albatross. I realized in the first five minutes that I was talking to a complete idiot.
I honestly don’t have any idea how guys that stupid manage to rise to positions of relative power and influence. I wish now that I could remember some of the things he said so that I could prove that I wasn’t letting my imagination run off the reservation, but the stuff he asked and the things he said were so gloriously incompetent that I put them immediately out of my mind. There’s only a finite amount of space in my brain, and I don’t like to allocate any of it to the remembrance of stupid things.
          Like many incompetents, Ben was a great one for fudging the numbers when he could get away with it. The numbers that mattered most to Ben as a production guy were units started and units completed. Ben liked to call inventory completed according to when it was scheduled to be completed, whether or not it was actually finished.
The effect of Ben’s fudging the completion numbers was that Ben looked like he had everything under control—that production was running smoothly and according to the master production schedule. The first thing I noticed when I started accumulating costs on production was that there were an awful lot of hours being booked to hulls in process to complete parts and fixtures that were built for us by the furniture division and that were supposed to have been brought to the boat facility in a completed state. These parts had already had their costs finalized in the system, and been transferred at completed cost to the boat division.
The boat production staff was charging hours to rework and finish the parts when all they should have had to do was install them. This made the furniture division look as if it was building inventory to the budget standard, but the boat division looked as if it were busting the budget on every unit. Lots of people at Albatross were aware of this little charade, but no on had had the temerity to complain about it—at least not until I arrived. If you have begun to see a pattern emerging from my recounting of my work history, you will now surmise, and correctly, that this didn’t go so well for me either. I may as well have been playing to the grass.

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