Friday, January 22, 2010

Small Victories

I worked for the same company most of my adult life. I rode that horse as it went from nearly a thousand employees down to about 150. I saw my friends terminated, even had to let some go myself. It's hard. One day, overwhelmed by frustration with management, I couldn't take it anymore and walked out. I swore I would never set foot in there again. Well, never say never. Things happened. The parent company was purchased by Warren Buffet, management was replaced, but the economy was bad and the slide continued down to about 100 employees.

About a year and half ago I received a call asking me if I wanted to come back and do some contract work. I had been contracting for another company and as that project had played out, I had time on my hands. So for a few months I went in half days and did the design, solid modeling and drawings for a new product line. After the project wrapped up I left, and went back to my garden and bicycles. I did keep updated on tooling, prototyping, early production, just keeping tabs on my new baby. In the mean time the recession deepened and the number of employees fell to about 50. You have to realize that these are not just numbers to me. These are my friends, the people that I worked with for 35 years.

A couple of days ago I asked my waitress at Nancy's Cafe how her husband was doing. He was one of those last men still standing at the plant. She said, "Really good, people are really showing interest in that new product line, they've called 27 people back to work and it looks like there will be more soon." Now, she doesn't have a clue that I was involved, she's just happy. I didn't do it to be altruistic, I was paid quite well. But damn, it makes me happy to have helped just a little.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello Gunnar - Reading your site has become one of my daily pleasures. I enjoyed your post today on the company you gave so much to. My dad worked for US Steel for 46 years, with time off for WWII. He started out as a kid burning scrap - the only job they'd give to an Irish Catholic kid from the (very) poor side of Duquesne, Pa., and he finished his career as a corner office senior manager. I cannot imagine working for one outfit for that period of time, and I doubt that the world as it's come to be would even condone it, much less allow it. I've worked for some big companies that are now long-gone, (DEC, IDX) and spent many years as a "GE Guy" where terminating good people was an unfortunate component of the management task list. I'm still in healthcare IT, but on the academic medicine side. AT 53 years young, with two teenagers on my hands, it's a much more relaxing and ultimately rewarding work experience. Anyway, kudos on the wonderful blog. I came for the bikes but I'm staying for the Humanity.

Best,

Rick Moffat

Gunnar Berg said...

"Oh, the humanity of of it all!"
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Nice irony. Your quotation is from when the Hindenberg (sp?) crashed. You could say that about all of Albert Lea these days. Dex

Gunnar Berg said...

The source and irony of my own quote was not lost on myself.

Mimbres Man said...

Cool! Great post!