Yesterday I was moved by a conversation I listen to during one of our breaks. The topic was Performance Appraisals. The subject was related to the inability of certain operators not being able to produce the numbers that management has set. This made me think a little of how closely tied moral and the level of frustration our Operators have been subjected to the last 8 years. I say 8 years because we have seen a great deal of deterioration and negligence in the equipment during that time. Normally I stay neutral in many of these discussions, but this time, I some how related the frustration that these operators have with a race car driver that is asked to win races, but is given an inferior car to perform the task. Can you imagine being in a race with a car that is consistently breaking down as a result of poor maintenance, or being blamed for losing the race after your car broke down four times during the race. John Force would be mad for all the right reasons.
The solution to this agonizing problem is very simple, yet upper management will never pull the trigger in making this happen. The reason is very simple, money. Any competitive team will tell you, that in order for anyone to remain competitive you must have an edge that the other team does not have. And that edge takes money. Unfortunately somewhere along the line someone decided that the best option for our future was to simply cut spending on the maintenance of our equipment, not realizing the detrimental effect that would have in the future. By ignoring the fact that we needed to keep our PM’s up to date we saved a few dollars in exchange for poor running equipment. We took shortcuts that other fortune 500 company’s would frown at. Any good executive worth his weight in GAS, would have seen this coming, and would have made an executive decision to upgrade the Olympics facility equipment to brand new Presses, packaging equipment, and other relevant tools to make the Operators jobs easy and pulled the trigger and do away with SFV and OC at the same time. This would have been the correct path for long term relevance. This would have also ensured that with reduced press capacity we would at least be depending on brand new equipment and not wonder if that 25 year old car will make it Vegas and back on a short notice.
I for one, give our operators a tip of the hat for doing what they have done with what they have to work with. Let’s follow in the footprints of the New York Times and upgrade our equipment so we can run 60k+ per hour, and not worry about packaging not being able to sustain that speed for the entire run. We are too big, and too important to Southern California to not have the ability to meet the needs of our customers. This includes a quality paper, on time, and not some rag that has color registration issues all over the map. Let’s call it what it is. We have a race car that is old and not being maintained in a manner that is indicative of the demands that many of our advertisers demand in today’s competitive market. Let’s take the bull by the horns and call it what it really is, we need new equipment. If we a going to have any relevance in the paper industry for the next 10 years then we need to make that change. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and put our money where our mouth is. Let’s take the nick and dime approach away from our practice and make real fundamental changes that can be sustained with new equipment. This way there is no one to blame but our own performance. If not, let’s do the noble thing and pack our trailer and stop racing with the big boy’s. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but it sure sounds right.