Letters to the Editor For April 2008

March 7, 2008
Greed in investing, food

What Goes Around Comes Around

Re: "Just In Time -- Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?" March 2008

I agree with everything you have stated. You have hit the proverbial nail on the head. I wonder what the current Wall Street crisis would be like if more money was invested in manufacturing companies like the good old days.

And speaking of investors, one thing I would add would be the lack of vision from these same folks back in the 1980s. I truly believe the manufacturing death spiral started because investors got greedy to make millions on top of millions and cared less of the outcomes of their decisions; and these outcomes were phenomenal. It was just a game! "Well, you know, Jerry, companies can buy companies to improve their status and that's just the way it is." The truth of the matter is that larger companies buy smaller companies to rid themselves of the competition, raise the price of their goods, collect the money and scream supply and demand. Because they have completely cornered the market, they do not have to expand their operations or try to be more efficient because they can just raise their price. Would anyone explain to me the recent surge in all raw material pricing with a recession that is not only knocking at the door, but has already moved into the spare bedroom?

The smaller guys are partly to blame too for their cutting and running. Entrepreneurial Americans need to be patriotic like the rest of us by hanging onto their companies if at all possible. It was such a pleasant thing talking to my boss the other day when he said he missed brand-X, not so much because they were great competitors and colleagues, but that he felt a twinge in his stomach each time he drove by that huge but empty factory. This is what Americans are made of and the mind-set we should have had back then.

Has the ship already sailed as you alluded to? I don't know, but you know the old saying in football -- what goes around comes around. Hopefully we will do better this time around, that is... if we get the chance.

Jerry Carlew Jr.
purchasing manager
Mayo Manufacturing Corp.
Texarkana, Texas

Overcoming a Weighty Problem

Re: "Obesity Weighs Down Production," March 2008

Jonathan Katz makes a compelling argument for employers reducing temptation and offering employees resources to lose weight and improve their health. There are real bottom-line benefits to this proactive approach. Not only does obesity account for lost productivity, but for a disproportionate number of work-related injury and long-term disability claims as well.

As Katz concludes in his article, employees are inclined to take advantage of health management programs offered at work. To implement such a program, most employers needn't look further than the local hospital. Hospitals offer health management and medical resources that bring credibility to workplace health programs. Through such partnerships, employers can have a positive impact on the health of their workers and realize significant cost savings.

I would encourage business leaders to contact their local hospital to find out what programs it offers and lead the way toward a healthier 2008.

Henry Ross
Aegis Health Group
Brentwood, Tenn.

Meet the New Capitalism... Same as the Old Capitalism

Re: "The Workforce: Charles Handy."

From the first sentence this article is stuck with one foot in the old paradigm and the other searching for a foothold in a better world. Charles, you must leap with more conviction.

"The new capitalism makes money out of people." No, unless we make money from skin and bones, new capitalism -- just the same as the old -- makes money from the value that people add while employing capital.

True, the nature of work is changing, i.e., the nature of the task to which we must add value is changing. But this still requires us to step up and add value. The problem we face, and the problem we must address, is our chronic inability to add value.

Charles is right, it starts and ends with the individual. The problem is that our current organizational structures are designed to de-individualize people. Hierarchies and specialization are bad for us as individuals. There are better ways, and I for one am experimenting with one.

It's good to philosophize, but then you must get into action. Find what works and what does not, and test, test, test.

Julian Wilson
James Wilson Ltd.
Poole, Dorset, U.K.

Educating the Consumers

Re: "Just In Time -- The United States of Manufacturing," Feb. 2008

I believe you are 100% correct that the best thing government can do is stay out of our way. However, a bit less regulation and taxation would not hurt. We as manufacturers can take back control of industry, but only by helping consumers understand the value and opportunity and wealth created by manufacturers.

The beef industry has taken their case to consumers, as has the agriculture industry. Manufacturers could do the same by pooling resources through industry associations to produce infomercials and or radio ads like the food producers have done and take our case directly to the public. This would be much more effective than trips to the 10-square-mile area surrounded by reality also known as Washington, D.C.

Jory Gromer
general manager
Green Bay Packaging Inc.
Chickasha, Okla.

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