Bad Reputations Can Be Quite Favorable
This is the ninth in a series of buzzes entitled, "Rage Against the Machine." It recounts my experiences as a maverick manager working withing the constraints of corporate America. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and wonder how the hell we made it this far.
After the dust settled from the near fist-to-cuffs between the two corporate-level representatives responsible for the maintenance and repair of our fleet, positive changes were implemented.
Instead of operating out of a centralized repair shop, which made logistics a costly nightmare, two other facilities operated by our contracted maintenance and repair service were added to the mix.
Being a national company, just like ours, they also had geographically located resources in place.
Now, each of our three facilities were provided service from nearby repair shops.
In addition, our northern and southern facilities were now being treated to 24-hour service.
Our central location remained in operation for preventative maintenance and minor repairs, but was afforded access to a nearby 24-hour shop for major repairs.
The two original mechanics and their manager continued to operate out of the central shop.
They were quite pleased. They no longer had to travel during rush hour.
Mechanics operating out of their northern and southern shops were assigned to our corresponding facilities.
Their sole responsibility was to attend to our fleet. They were scheduled to be at our facilities three days per week.
The one assigned to my location was a top-notch mechanic and we got along exceptionally well. We're still friends.
He made himself available to me during each of his shifts for five days a week.
So, with assistance from him and my corporate contact, I began to bend the rules, again.
A two-year ban on the purchase of new trucks had finally been lifted.
However, each facility was only allowed to retain the number of trucks that corporate determined was required to operate.
That meant, for each new truck received, one old truck would have to be taken out of service. At least the choice of which truck was left up to me.
As anyone who drives knows, in addition to being expensive, parts are not always readily available.
At the time, my fleet consisted of trucks manufactured from 1989 to 2007. It was 2011.
The mileage on delivery trucks that are on the road five days a week can add up quickly.
When I released a truck, I got nothing for it. It was sent to an auction house and the proceeds went directly to corporate.
After a year or so, I realized that corporate never checked the condition of these trucks.
I was simply asked if the truck could be safely driven. If not, it would be towed away.
We were not supposed to "cannibalize" them for parts.
But, with the silent blessing of my immediate contact at corporate, who was the one who was involved in the near fist-to-cuffs, I got hungry.
So, I instructed my mechanic to strip the trucks of whatever he thought we could use on the remaining fleet.
From that year forward, nearly every truck I returned needed to be towed.
I never heard a peep from anyone at corporate. They remained oblivious to my shenanigans.
In addition to acting as my willing accomplice in the cannibalizing of outgoing trucks, my mechanic often dropped by unannounced to complete something from the day before because he'd received a part he'd ordered.
His boss, who was my contact, was also a stand-up guy. They both clearly understood the importance of keeping my trucks on the road and not out-of-service for long periods of time due to mechanical breakdowns.
I was never disappointed.
Our delivery drivers were nearly ecstatic. Minor issues were repaired almost immediately.
They were now happy to submit their daily truck reports, knowing their issues would be quickly addressed.
They were even comfortable switching into one of our spare trucks, which were once despised, so that their truck could receive proper maintenance and repair. They knew it would be returned to them as soon as possible.
The logical changes made my life a whole lot easier, not to mention I came in under budget. In fact, the total restructuring of the program led to reduced costs for everyone involved.
However, I had earned a reputation as a badass and it preceded me. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though.
Our new general manager, who arrived a few months later, sent out a mass email to the management staff one morning that read, "Don't fuck with Randy." I know. I received it.
He'd just seen a mechanic sticking out from underneath one of our trucks backed up to our dock.
It was 5:30 a.m. and the temperature was minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Please follow the link below to read the previous installments of this ongoing series. It will lead you to the Business Hub hive, which is administrated by Phil Friedman and myself. It's a collection of original content submitted by various business professionals on beBee.