Saturday, January 29, 2011

Column #51 - It takes ‘how many’ to run a Co?

So as we said last week, Jackson, TN just doesn’t seem to fit the bill for a major distribution hub. Naturally, there may be some who would disagree with me, and that’s fine. This series of articles are just MY opinion. They are written from one that lived through the time and recalls it very well. After all, this was MY company. One we had built pretty much from the scrap heap over 15 years. It wasn’t easy seeing corporate decisions being implemented that seemed to arise more from personal bias than any sense of best business practices.

Then there was another logistics issue. Delta International Machinery worked from 3 locations: Pittsburgh, PA was Delta HQ, with admin, engineering, finance, sales and HR on hand. Tupelo, MS was the factory where almost all of the ‘made in USA’ machines were built. Memphis, TN housed distribution, Customer Service and Technical Service. So now, due to the ‘merger’, the staffs of Pittsburgh and Memphis were headed for Jackson…or were they?
Granted, I am more familiar with the events that related to the Memphis operation, but I have enough friends in Pittsburgh that I have a pretty good grasp of what transpired. Maybe we’d best just put it like this: Out of over 100 people in the Pittsburgh facility, (and remember, these were the ‘brains of Delta’, the people who spearheaded the growth of the company and oversaw it’s becoming the powerhouse that it was by 1999) 8, yes E-I-G-H-T, people accepted positions in Jackson, with the new Pentair Tools Group. I have been told that there were 2 major factors involved that decimated the ‘brains of Delta’. First; those who were in control of assembling the Pentair Tools Group did not make any “serious offers” to those in Pittsburgh. What I mean by that is this for example. Let’s say that a person was the Director of Engineering at Delta Pittsburgh and they got an offer to relocate to Jackson and become the Engineering Manager reporting to the Director of Porter-Cable Engineering. This would not be considered a comparable offer in anyone’s book. The Second factor was that most ‘Pittsburghers’ simply did not want to leave Pittsburgh and move to Jackson, TN. In truth, that was the reason that Delta had not consolidated its operations in Memphis, or even Tupelo back in the Mid-80’s. The ‘Pittsburgh gang’ were mostly folks who had worked for the Rockwell Power Tool Division and it was based in Pittsburgh- so they had some deep roots there and we worked it out for them to stay there. At times, it was frustrating having our ‘honchos’ so far away, but we managed to make it work and made a ton of money with it that way, so it was OK.

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