Buy a bigger bulldozer

Sometimes it feels like my job is pushing water. It’s easy to splash around and cause a distrubance, and if I push hard enough I can make waves, but shortly after I stop causing a commotion everything settles back down the way it was. But it’s not just my own little efforts. It’s the whole business. It’s been feeling to me like we are going back to where we were two years ago.

Two years ago, come April, this plant was named as a particular source of frustration to customers. One of the bigger projects that’s been undertaken to resolve that is shipping our tools to a central distribution facility several states away. If the company had wanted to treat the distribution center like a distribution center and make sure it was stocked with enough tools to last for two Christmases we might be okay now, but all that inventory is dead cash so everyone tried to trim the inventory down when the business got slow. Now in some cases it doesn’t look like we will be able to build orders we receive this month until February. And customers want it by the end of the month.

That’s just some stuff that still ships out of this plant. I don’t deal with the product shipping to the distribution center on a daily basis, but they are both our largest “customer” (as the immediate recipient of our products) and representative of our customers (as the shipping source for the majority of the orders that keep us in business). And they have name this plant as a particular source of frustration.

I don’t think people here have realized how bad this is. I think it will take a little while yet… maybe let’s say until April. But to me it is a doubly bad situation. End customers are still upset, but we hear less of it. Higher powers investigating customer complaints will question the distribution center, and they will just be told that this plant is not supporting them. We will effectively have two layers of upset customers who really don’t give a rip what may have caused our problems; they just know they aren’t getting tools.

And yet people around here still seem to think that the more models we can ship out of the distribution center (rather than directly from this plant), the fewer problems we will have.