I’m angry. I try not to blog when I’m angry, so I’ll try to watch my words carefully. Probably won’t succeed.
This recent news hits home for me on many different levels. I was a Dell employee in 1999 and 2000, part of the support team that started up the “PN2” (later renamed “Topfer Manufacturing Center”) factory in north Austin. It was Dell’s showcase facility for building desktop computers, it really was a marvel. As I’ve written before, it wasn’t “Toyota Production System” lean, but it had great flow and very very low inventory. “Respect for people” was often missing and this story just further illustrates that.
I was there when the first computer was built. I remember the engineering manager running across the plant to get the one plastic casing part that wasn’t there to get that computer built. Oops! Even though I left Dell, that factory (online “tour” here) was still pretty special to me and impactful on my career. Now, almost eight years later, the place is being junked.
So what happened?
- The knuckleheads running the place over-expanded their desktop PC manufacturing in an era when laptops are increasingly popular.
- Dell got huge tax breaks from the taxpayers in North Carolina to build a new factory.
- When capacity was not needed, they decide to close the factory in Austin, Michael Dell’s hometown.
Poor planning, poor execution, now they’re crapping on Austin and the people there. Where’s the sense of responsibility? Where’s the respect for people?
Would Toyota shut down their Toyota City plants to build cars in China? No way.
“But Dell is just doing what’s right for the shareholders.” Bullshit. They obviously had no commitment to the people of Austin, or they would have planned better to protect those jobs. It’s upper management’s responsibility to lead the company in a way that doesn’t end up screwing the employees. I hate to seem like I’m playing “class warfare” here, but Michael Dell is a billionaire thanks, in part, to the people of Austin.
Who is going to, Michael Moore-style, do a “Michael and Me” film?
I can’t find a single quote where Michael Dell says “sorry” or “it’s unfortunate” or anything like that. Just talk of aggressively going after productivity and efficiency, keeping the Wall St analysts happy (there’s not-so-coincidentally an analyst meeting going on with Dell executives this week). These greedy morons who bought derivatives based on mortgages given to people with zero income verification are going to tell anyone how to run a company?
“Any additional cuts to its bloated cost structure would be well received,” wrote analyst Brent Bracelin with Pacific Crest Securities iin a recent report to investors. “Operating expenses are at an eight year high of 13.3 percent, which suggest that tighter cost-containment efforts are needed to restore investor confidence.”
When I get home I’m putting on my old “Dell Hell” t-shirt (made by some former employees after some 2001 layoffs, I had bought one online). How sad.
From the article:
Analyst Roger Kay with Endpoint Technologies Associate Inc. said such a move would repair Dell’s tarnished image for manufacturing and logistical efficiency.
“They let things slip. They took their eye off the ball,” Kay said.
“They carved a real sweet deal in North Carolina, and they need to use a lot of the plant capacity there,” Kay said.