1
Chapter 1
What Would You Expect
with a Parent Like GM?
I graduated from SMU in Dallas, Texas, in December of 1970 with a
degree in Industrial Engineering and a strong desire to find a good job
that would be professionally rewarding, as well as provide an opportunity
for a good living for my family. Over the prior several months, I had been
interviewing with a number of highly respected companies, large and small,
manufacturing and nonmanufacturing, local and distant.
Growing up in East Texas and during my university years, I held a
number of summer jobs, most of which gave me a pretty good idea of what
I didn’t want to do the rest of my life, and which kept me working hard in
school. These jobs included working in the hay and watermelon fields, life
guarding, working on the loading docks, driving a bread truck, painting, and
jailer in the Dallas County jail. Not only did these jobs help keep me out of
trouble and provide spending money, they helped teach me a valuable work
ethic and an appreciation of a variety of work environments.
Based on my prior work experience and impressions I had throughout
the interview process, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to work with a
successful manufacturing company. I think this conclusion came pretty natu-
rally, as it has been my observation over the years that many conservative
people, such as I am, gravitate toward professions where they perceive that
products and services of real value will be provided to society.
After interviewing with several companies that came on campus and
receiving some very good offers, I had just about decided to take a job
with the largest home builder in the Dallas area. Prior to accepting this
2 ◾  Intelligent Manufacturing: Reviving U.S. Manufacturing
offer, however, I did want to interview with three large, very prominent
manufacturing companies that were located not too far from northeast Ohio
where my family had settled following my father’s recent transfer. Family
has always been very important to me, and I decided that if one of these
companies looked as professional as the Dallas home builder and made a
comparable offer, proximity to my family would be the tiebreaker.
As it turned out, all three companies were quite impressive and made
competitive offers. The most impressive of the three, however, was Packard
Electric, which also happened to be located the closest to my parents’ new
home, only an hour away. The fact that I was escorted around Packard during
my interview day by an executive who also had played major college football
(Penn State), and who was also an engineering graduate, didnt hurt either.
I knew that he would understand the hard work and sacrifices necessary to
accomplish this feat, and that it would probably work to my advantage in this
company. It also didn’t hurt that Packard was a subsidiary of General Motors,
which was the largest company in the world at that time. This undoubtedly
meant that it was well managed and would be around forever, at least that is
what I thought at the time. I was still very young and naïve.
But, in addition to these things, Packard Electric was a very impressive
company. At that time, all of Packard’s operations were in Warren, Ohio.
(Itdidn’t take long after signing on to realize how foolish this was as the
entrenchment and inflexibility of the union severely restricted Packard’s
ability to run an efficient operation). As best I remember, Packard had over a
million square feet of floor spaceunder roof, most of it being manufacturing
oor space. However, they also had a very impressive two-story engineering
building in addition to the normal office buildings. When I saw the rever-
ence paid to the Methods Lab and the importance placed on the Industrial
Engineering Department, I was hooked.
Interview Process
In reflecting back on the interview process, there were a few things that I
found interesting. For one thing, there was not a lot of consistency in the
interview process from one company to the next. In some cases, the inter-
views were done in a very relaxed and informal manner, and, in other
cases, the interviews were much more structured and formal. In some cases,
the bulk of the interview centered on my work background, goals and
aspirations, likes and dislikes, and how I could be an asset to the company.

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