Remembering Early Times at HP

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International Procurement Can Be Fun...!!!!
An autobiography of my working life..., by John Wastle

Part 3

Table of Contents:

Dedicated to:
Harris. The greatest Grandson in the world.
"The world is what you make it. It isn't fair, but it is good."

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Part 4
  • Part 5
  • Part 6
  • Part 7
  • Part 8
  • Part 9

  • Part 3

    15. Corporate Procurement Awakens...

    It was around the time of the "Scrumpy" pressure die-casting project, HP Corporate Procurement (HPP) made contact, HPP wanted to expand their global procurement capabilities, beyond that of the Far East, which was mostly Japan at that time, with an office in Singapore and a small office in Boeblingen Germany, which was being run by Karl Heinz Hartmann. KHH was what I would describe as the aristocratic type of German, he was always a gentleman in the way he approached things, though in a way that was one of his weaknesses. People would and did walk over him as he would never put up any form of strong resistance. He and I were to become good friends, I think we were a foil for each other. As Materials Manager, Bill Oliver had direct contact into HPP and as such they had approached him. Of course Bill Oliver was never one to miss an opportunity to let others know, in his own discerning way, how successful things were under his control and on what QMO Materials had achieved with outside subcontractors, particularly in the area of massive cost reductions. Bill was always playing work politics, he thrived on it. It was what got him up in the morning and got him to work, he probably would have made a good government minister. Eventually 'IT' caught up with him and even he found out that the company could manage very well without him, to this day he still misses the politics in his retired life.

    Corporate Procurement were interested and biting on the hook, and I received a visit from Dick Locke, Dick was the IPO Director. Dick was what my wife would call an educated American! Dick went to a boarding school in Exeter, New Hampshire, and I think this played a big role in his mannerisms, he tended to be defensive and wary of letting anyone get too close to him. Though he and I got on really well as time progressed, he was one who seemed able to harness my driver-driver style. Dick had a sharp brain and a lot of good experience particularly in relation to off-shore sourcing, he was later to write a successful book about it and did seminars for his own company Global Procurement. Dick had spent a number of years setting up and running the first IPO for HP in Japan. Anyone who has had experience of sourcing commodities in Japan will know that this was no mean feat on Dick's part, the Japanese culture, language and finding your way around Japan are all very challenging tasks to deal with.

    Dick was prepared to spend quite a bit of time with me in order to gain an in-depth understanding and as he showed great interest, I gave him the full $100 tour of all the opportunities that were available. Dick in turn pointed out that there were other financial accounting benefits available to all the user or parent divisions if they ordered their components through an IPO channel. Both Jimmy Queen and Bill Oliver liked the opportunity to help reduce the costs of the products for our parent divisions, it goes without saying those divisions were grateful of any other further cost reductions that could be achieved. So before too long, I was now running QMO Material Engineering Department and a brand new IPO, which was to be called WEIPO, (Western European International Procurement Operation.) quite a mouthful.

    In time it was proven that Jimmy and Bill had made one big oversight, the IPO's were open to all of HP's divisions to access and use and our new IPO. We would not be limited to those divisions which made up the MCG and those divisions which QMO was building instruments under license for. Eventually this would lead to another decision I would have to make, but I still had a mountain of work to do and I had now been given the go ahead to help the other divisions inside the MCG. This was to turn out to be a huge learning curve for me but it gave me the foundation to build on for the future.

    I also believe it led to the in-house and SAD hostility towards our IPO as QMD tried to create an IPO of their own to supply only their parent divisions. As time would tell, this was something they were never really capable of doing. They still had to rely on our IPO supporting some of their needs, which was a huge pain for us and one my future EIPO Manager Wolfgang Zenger was incapable or had the courage to address, but that was a few years down the road yet.

    It wasn't too long before I started to get contacted by other divisions in MCG, but there were still those who looked upon what I was doing as a threat, yet they couldn't ignore what was happening. NMD, (Network Measurements Division) based in Santa Rosa California, which also had its own internal "state of the art" machine-shop, became more aware as my group set up more and more parts at much lower costs for their instruments being built in South Queensferry. NMD's machine-shop was also manufacturing parts for SAD, (Signal Analysis Division) based just down the road a bit off Highway 101 in Rohnert Park. NMD had to sit up and take notice, as we were starting to eat at their lunch, when some of their machined connector parts started to flow through our IPO.

    SAD controlled their own sheet-metal subcontractors as well as doing some manufacture in their other facility back in Santa Rosa and as we made headway into those parts, it added to the increasing threat to NMD.

    16. Sam's visit.

    With Jimmy Queen at the Manufacturing Managers Meetings and SAD getting more and more interested. NMD's Manufacturing Manager Sam Scott, at Jimmy Queen's invitation decided to come over and have a look for himself. Jimmy wanted me to set up a week of visits for Sam and make sure I looked after him. This was not going to be a problem, Sam turned out to be a lifelong friend.

    I organized and set up all the visits for when he was due. Sam decided he would bring his wife, Ginnie over with him. She had never been over here before, so I had to make sure she was well looked after. My wife Sheila offered to help out and they both became firm friends and still are today. Watching the two of them walking side by side, one tall, the other short, Ginnie once commented that they must look like "Mutt & Jeff." The friendship developed more over the years where we would all go on holiday together both in the UK and in the USA and share some memorable moments. White water rafting quickly springs to mind, with Sam in his Oklahoma drawl shouting... "Awwww Sheeettt!!! No way will I do that again!!!"

    I turned up at the Waverley Railway Station to meet Sam and Ginnie off the train from London. Ginnie had never been to London and wanted to see it before coming to Edinburgh. I managed to park the car inside the station. It was a rental car that I would use for taking Sam around the suppliers in our area, a standard European Mondeo, a midsized car similar to a Ford Taurus in the USA. Easily take five people, enough room I thought for a man-sized American. Boy did I get that wrong! I looked along the platform and there I could see two people coming towards me, they just had to be Americans. They had a railway porter in tow, with a huge trolley full of luggage. I thought to myself, "How the (expletive) am I going to get all that in a Mondeo car!!!" With that amount of luggage it would require traveling anywhere by ship!

    I smiled and said, "Welcome to Scotland. That's some amount of luggage you've got there." Sam grunted " Hummpp, don't I know it!" Ginnie said, "Well we weren't sure what we'd have to wear!" "Okay, let's go and see if I can get all this in the car, but I probably should have brought a lorry." "What's a lorry?" was the reply, smiling I replied, "A truck." This brought laughter all round, the ice was well and truly broken. One way or the other I somehow managed to get it all in the car and set off to deposit them at the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh and leave them to get settled in, I'd pick up Sam the next morning and start the grand tour.

    Sam was ready first thing and raring to go, he was a country boy who always got up early, 5.00 am was no problem for him, it was for me though! I picked him up at 9.00 am and off we went. We hit it off right from the start, Sam said Ginnie had already bought more stuff and he hadn't a clue how they were going to get it back home, he solved that problem later, he shipped it all back! I liked Sam a lot, he was down to earth and said it as he saw it. The visits went fine and he liked everything he saw, he was very surprised at a company called FACTS in Glenrothes, he said he hadn't seen such an up to date machine-shop with such "state of the art" machine tools, he stated they would certainly compete well against a big part of his in-house machine-shop. How true that was going to turn out.

    Despite Sam's visit, NMD's machine-shop were always on the defensive, they were not going to change their ways at any cost. Our IPO shipped very little into NMD, even though we were much lower cost on the parts we set up. Sam let the members of his team make their own decisions. SAD were a different story, NMD couldn't force them to stay with their in-house machine-shop manufactured parts. Time and again SAD would throw down the gauntlet at them to reduce their costs. Meanwhile SAD was taking more and more from us and they sent a Procurement team over to have a look for themselves.

    17. Dan Nelson Visit...

    Dan Nelson was Spokane's Manufacturing Manager. He was coming to South Queensferry for a meeting with Jimmy Queen. Jimmy called me in to his office to say that Dan Nelson was interested to extend his stay in the UK and that he'd like to see some of the subcontractor supplier base he was now hearing about, particularly those involved in his products and those that I thought might be of major interest to Spokane in the future. Jimmy ended the meeting telling me to make sure Dan had a good time whilst he was here and see to his wishes as it's his division which has pushed for more to come to QMO. He was an ally of Jimmy's and he wanted him to get special treatment. Fortunately Dan Nelson was also fun to travel with. I quickly found out though, that Dan's sense of direction, could prove to be a challenge. He had two rights, or two lefts, never one of each! I set up the visits and picked some special upmarket hotels to stay in along the way.

    On the first day out, not long after we landed in Heathrow and picked up the hire car, I gave Dan the road map, pointed out where we were going and off we set. No problem really, until we had to turn off at a junction, Dan would say turn left, then as I turned left, he'd say, "No not that left the other left!" "You mean right?" I quizzed, "Yeah the other left, that's right!" When we came to roundabouts, Dan would say, "Go round again." We actually on one occasion went around the same roundabout five times! By then we were getting some strange looks.

    Dan found that he liked all the different types of single malt whisky. We were staying a couple of nights in the Elms Hotel in Abberley. A beautiful Georgian Hotel complete with courtyard, a hotel where you had to dress for dinner, if you didn't have a jacket and a tie, they found them for you. It was a favourite hotel of mine. Dan spotted all the different malts on offer, and on the first night managed to taste quite a few of them. On the second night at the Elms Hotel, it started to turn into a blizzard outside, "Great" said Dan, followed up with, "I hope it snows and snows and we get stuck here for a couple of days, I'll need that time to get though all those different malts up there."

    When I got back to Queensferry, I got a call from Jimmy to say thanks, Dan had a good visit and was pleased with what he saw. On my next visit to Spokane I presented Dan with a bottle of duty free malt he had not tried before, he smiled and put it in his brief case, and then locked it. "I don't want that to go walk about." he said!

    18. SAD Procurement visit...

    SAD Procurement Team, visiting Scotland. Dave Stinnett and Rich Dempsey,
    awarding us a plaque for excellent IPO support.

    The SAD team was headed up by Roy Ingham, although he was much older than I had expected, he was very astute and I became good friends with Roy. Roy was originally from England and had emigrated to the USA many years before. With Roy was Dave Stinnett, whose role was on the Quality Assurance, whilst Roy was on the Engineering side. They also were very happy with what they saw, particularly with FACTS in Glenrothes. They stated then that they would be quite a competitor to the NMD Machine-shop.

    SAD eventually were to have us set up a wide range of parts from sheet metal, machined- milled and turned, plastic mouldings and pressure die-castings, we ended up supplying nearly everything for their portable "Hornet" Signal Analyser much to the dismay of NMD and PAFC who had been supplying parts for the Hornet.

    Supplier trips to SAD were enjoyable, with the hosts making sure to introduce the
    visitors to redwoods and wine country, and quaint villages like Guerneville. This
    gathering shows the SAD Procurement Team and the UK Subcontractors.

    After that initial SAD Procurement visit, we would get quite a few more over the years as they sent over their Procurement Engineers and Lab Engineers as well as folks from their Quality Assurance side. They did everything possible to make it a team effort and to be successful. It was great to get a visit from Pete Johnson, Roy Ingham and Doug Oaks, giving us the opportunity to show Pete some Scottish Hospitality on our own turf, especially after the way Pete and all his staff treated us when we visted them. In fact one of the joint owners of FACTS, Bill Davidson, invited Pete back to his home for dinner. Bill wanted to return his own personal hospitality to show his thanks for SAD looking after him so well on the IPO organised subcontractor visits.

    Our IPO would ensure SAD were getting good cost reductions with their products, the savings accrued probably also allowed Pete to show his thanks to his staff, as when I and the suppliers were over, there was always a large amount of Pete's staff would join us for dinner, it all helped with the bonding between customer and supplier, as well as boost morale at SAD Fabrication.

    19. LSID Visit...

    Lake Stevens Instrument Division, (LSID) originally got in touch with me because of the contact they had through Spokane. They were using the same subcontractor supplier base and Spokane had been telling them about parts being sourced through our IPO. LSID were no different from all the other divisions in the Test & Measurement Group, they also were under severe competition and needed to drive down their costs. I had met their Materials Manager, Billy Miracle at a World-wide Materials Managers Meeting in Monterrey. He asked me if I'd give his team a presentation? I could do that, I was always open to an opportunity to get new business.

    Billy Miracle was from Texas and true to form he was every bit a cowboy, boots, Stetson and all, only the spurs were missing. I planned on my next trip over to the USA, I'd swing by LSID to attend one of Billy's Staff meetings. Billy was always to the point in everything he said, so when I appeared, his staff was all ready for the presentation, with Billy's opening line being, "You guys need to be aware of what's going on in the outside world, so I invited John to come along to make you more aware."

    All those in attendance were Billy's first line Managers, from Engineering, Procurement, Quality Control, Goods-In etc.. I gave them the presentation of what had been achieved to date, some of which they were aware of with their contact with Spokane. The audience was the usual mix of people, some keen to know more, some very apprehensive on how it would impact them. Marsha Wolcott, was assigned to be my contact and she showed me around the facility.

    Marsha became a good friend and gave me many insights into those I might have problems with, she was never wrong, Marsha didn't have a "qualification" as an engineer, so that tended to hold her back in LSID. Pity really, as Marsha was more of an engineer than those I had to deal with and she was a prime mover in making things happen. What surprised me even more was, LSID put a procurement team together to come over and see the supplier base. This was headed up by the most cheerful boisterous Mormon I have ever met called Gary Madsen, Procurement Engineering Manager. With him was an engineer called Chris Kubicek and on the purchasing side a lady called Carol Millar, who was also Mormon.

    Gary Madsen, whom I soon started to call Gary Madman, was always trying to start a rammy (argument) in an empty house! All in fun of course. He had a lovely wife, who was forever trying to keep him under control and a child, who Gary worshipped and a dog at home, all of them I think trying to keep him in check, as well as Marsha who did know how to control him. Gary was a lot of fun and he did get things done, most of which was what Marsha told him was best. It was always strange to me why they did not send Marsha over as she would have the most contact with the suppliers, it must have been due to that engineering qualification bit. Chris Kubicek had been sent in preference to another engineer Steve, which rubbed his nose the wrong way and made him awkward to deal with, which was the real reason he got dropped in the first place. Again Marsha explained to me what happened and why this guy was like that.

    The LSID Procurement Team with UK Subcontractors. LSID folks:
    Gary Madsen (madman) Carol Millar, Steve Dace, Chris Kubicek,
    Marsha Wolcott, Alan Balantyne, Mike Macormick, Bill Davidson, Subcontractors.
    Irene Shirridan and me.

    Their trip over was a complete success, they intended to have fun as well as work. At one stage we were in a restaurant/bar in Rose Street in Edinburgh and Gary started kicking off and having fun about Scottish accents and having a go at folks at the next table! I thought, someone is going to get up and hit him a shot. He was a chunky guy, but that wouldn't have stopped it, fortunately everyone around was taking it all in good spirits. We even discussed Carol's love life, Gary and Carol were saying that the Mormon Church was trying to find Carol a husband, they obviously want everyone to stay with the faith!

    As well as the supplier visits, I took them on a tour of the Queensferry site. At that time QMO's General Manager was Doug Scribner. Doug was a Mormon, so it seemed a good idea to me at the time to introduce the LSID team to him as two of them were Mormons.

    We strolled up to Doug's desk, and I said, "Doug, here are some of your country folks from Lake Stevens who are over here on supplier visits with us, Gary and Carol also share the same religion as yourself." Doug did his cordial bit, then he said, "I hope John is looking after you all right, he's a bit of a Maverick." I knew what he was getting at, so as quick as a flash I responded, "Thanks Doug, I appreciate the compliment, it lets these guys know I'm a leader and not just a follower." The LSID folks laughed, Doug was stunned into silence for a moment, then said "Have a good stay." Gary Madman, when we were away from Doug's desk said in passing, "Nice one Wastle, you soon put him in his place."

    LSID soon started to place parts through us, it was inevitable really as they were using standard parts from the System II package system, but they were also going to add their own products specific to themselves.

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