Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Boeing survived

Most people in the world know of Boeing Aircraft.

My father worked for Boeing for 35 years, taking an early retirement package at the age of 55. My parents met there during WWII. My Mother was an inspector (she was always quick to point this out) - she was not Rosie the riveter, but an inspector with a stamp.

Boeing commissioned a book on the history of their company. Every employee of Boeing, as well as every retiree received a copy. Therefore, copies can be found all around this town in the various 2nd hand stores.

I had read it when it first came out, but my oldest brother had not. He read it over the last couple of weeks, as we had all gathered to be with our Mom.

Here are some comments he made as to how Boeing survived.

The Story of Boeing and Its People Legend & Legacy

On page 334, Boeing found itself over $1 BILLION in debt in 1970 as a result of cost overruns on production of airplanes, and reduced airplane orders. Boeing went to its lenders to try to get more money and was turned down.

Here is what Boeing did.

1. It laid off 5,000 people in single week.
2. engineers and scientists were reduced from 15,000 to 8,000
3. office employees were reduced from 24,000 to 9,000
4. hourly workers went from 45,000 to 15,000
5. management was reduced from 12,700 to 5,400
6. surviving officers had their salaries reduced by as much as 25 percent

Boeing's total payroll had shrunk from 101,000 to 38,000 in the Seattle area alone.

There were times when Boeing was moving large machinery off their factory floor, I guess someone was buying it, or taking it as collateral, and with this money Boeing was making payroll.

The shipping company executives would be well served to read this book. This company was run by people who grew up during the U.S. depression, and knew how to stretch a dollar.

I am afraid that has become a lost art.


Coy Ote said...

Interesting about Boeing.
Like your father I retired after 30 years... from GM. Now I can drive by where the plant WAS... and see the flat surface remaining after the bulldozers left.
Unlike Boeing, GM did not apply fiscal responsibility upon itself, and neither did my union, UAW, use enough common sense and restraint. So here we are today and the taxpayers (through the government) barely salvaged a semblance of what once was.

I think we are all in for a long period of belt tightening and reassessment of our priorities.

Lynda Applegate said...

Yes, I think so also.

However, this is how companies improve. If there is never pressure to really look at costs, and ways to improve, it is seldom done.