Remembering Early Times at HP

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

Part 7

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 7

    47. It's the Polis...

    On one occasion I found myself with some extra time on my hands during a USA trip. After I had made all the trip plans and booked all the flights and hotels around all the people I was going to have meetings with, I had completely overlooked the fact that my trip had landed right in the middle of it one of those USA long day weekends, for Labour day. This got even more complicated when a couple of the folks I was to meet up with, decided at short notice to change their plans. I was in Roseville and the guy I planned to meet on the Friday couldn't make it. So he said he'd have dinner with me on the Wednesday evening and we could discuss all the aspects then. Not a problem really, I could use the day's extra break. On the Thursday I managed to combine two meetings into the one as another guy wanted to break off early, so I was finished just before lunchtime. With this extra time on my hands I decided to go do some sightseeing as my next appointment wasn't till the Wednesday morning. I decided to take off and drive to Utah and see Salt Lake City.

    Utah turned out to be an interesting place. For starters the freeway drove right across the Bonneville Salt Flats and there was some high speed testing going on. Salt Lake City was unbelievably clean, spotless in fact. I managed to have a look around the world of the Mormons and see the Temple etc., though as a non-Mormon, access to the Temple is not allowed. That evening I dined in a nice restaurant, but there was no drinks menu, and I wanted a beer. On asking the waiter, he eventually produced one, but went on to tell me that "Mormons don't drink." to which I replied, "I'm not a Mormon. The waiter brought the bottle of beer, poured it into a small glass and turned away with the rest of the beer that was still in the bottle. I said, "That's not empty, I'd like to finish it." He said he'd bring the bottle back when my glass was empty. Which he duly did, apparently they don't like bottles of alcohol on their restaurant tables in the land of the Mormons, meal was nice though!

    Next morning I had decided to turn right and head south to the Canyon Lands and to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a beautiful morning when I left bright and early, there are times when the deserts are really beautiful, this was one of those times. I could see the road disappear straight ahead into the tomorrow. It was warm, the window of the car was down, the sun was shining and I was blissfully listening to a Country and Western radio station. The road suddenly had this dip in it and sitting in the bottom of the dip was a police patrol car. Before I had completed saying, "Awww (expletive)!" He had turned around and with blue lights and siren was right on my tail, I pulled over.

    The cop gets out and walks up to my car, I know enough to stay in the car, no point in getting myself shot. I wasn't greeted with a, "Good Morning Sir." It was, "You're doing seventy in a posted 55 zone!" To which I replied, "Where was it posted? This road has been as straight as a die for the past fifty miles." Back came the reply, "Twenty five miles back! You're not from around here are you?" I said, "Nope, can I get out?" We stood and blethered (chatted) for ages, he wanted to know all about Scotland. His name was Tom Ballantyne, so he was proud of his Scottish heritage. We had some fun with each other, he told me he was related to the Ballantyne's Whisky people. I said "A Mormon related to alcohol, you're winding me up right?" By now we were on first names terms, he was calling me John and I was calling him Tom. He then started to write out a citation as he called it. I said come on, we've been here half an hour and no one has driven past. Then he said out of the kindness of his heart he would write down the citation to driving at 60 miles per hour, which meant a forty dollar fine instead of one hundred and twenty dollar fine.

    I smiled and said, "Where do I pay that, I fly home in a week, maybe I should just forget it, it will be a long time before I get back to Utah?" I went on to say, "After writing that ticket Tom, don't tell me to have a nice day!" It was his turn to smile, and he said I could pay it at the next town. I needed to get on and told him it was nice talking to him and started to walk towards my car, Tom shouted at me, "Hey John, have a nice day!" And with a dirty big smile on his face, as he turned to walk back to his patrol car I shouted back, "Hey Tom," "Yup" he shouted, to which I replied, "(expletive) off" He roared with laughter, got into his patrol car, did a U-turn and sped off back to the dip in the road.

    The rest of the journey was great, I visited Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and stayed in a little hick town called Moab. Drove on past Zion National Park, which was really spectacular and spent a day in Las Vegas. But I'm in no hurry to go back there, all that glitz and kitsch. It was kind of exciting to drive down the strip at night with all the neon in full view. It was also damn difficult to find my way out of the city onto the freeway. Seemed to me they didn't want anyone to leave until they fleeced every last dollar out of you! I was heading back to San Francisco, via a drive across Death Valley, what a good exhausting trip it all was, worth doing again someday.

    On another visit to Roseville, I had to get myself back to San Francisco airport to catch a flight to Spokane. I left the HP plant in plenty of time and set off down I-80, not long on the road and in the outside lane, the car conked out on me. I was in the fast lane so had to free wheel it into the hard shoulder, accompanied by all sorts of car horns honking at me. I had no sooner stopped at the side of the road when I could see a Patrol car pulling over to draw up behind me.

    I got out and walked towards the Patrol car and by the time I reached it, the Officer said, "That car has twelve outstanding tickets on it!" I said, "Well the car may have those tickets, but I don't, it's a National Rental car." He got onto his car phone and checked out the National Rental Company, then said, "Get your stuff, I'll take you to the airport." I thought great, he's going to take me to San Francisco Airport, but he wasn't, he was taking me to Sacramento Airport to pick up another car. He said, "I've told them you're coming in and to have a car ready for pick up."

    Getting my stuff into the Patrol car was going to be a problem, there was no room in the boot, it was crammed full of police stuff that they use on the highways. So my stuff and myself crammed into the rear seat. As we drove to Sacramento Airport, I got to know him quite well. He was Lt. Ronald Coleman, he even gave me his business card. He told me all about his days in Vietnam and visiting New Zealand. He had always wanted to visit Scotland. I looked at his business card, and said, "As far as I know, cops in the UK don't have business cards." I then said, "When I get to Spokane, I'll hand it to the first Hooker I see!" He laughed and said we could do with guys like you on the force.

    True to his word, as soon as we drove into the National Rental car lot, they pulled a car out for me to use. Lt. Coleman said, "John, follow me, I'll get you back to I-80 and on your way quickly." He took off like a bat out of hell, with his lights flashing and siren blasting out, we were doing about ninety along the freeway, with cars pulling out of his way as he cut a path through them, with me right behind. As we approached the slip road to I-80, he pointed me towards it. In my response to thank him, I'm flashing my light and had my hand on the horn. I'm sure folks must have been wondering what the hell was going on. Here's a cop doing almost 100 miles per hour, and there's a guy in a rental car, flashing his lights and honking his horn as if to pass!

    One of the processes we set in place was to promote the EIPO throughout the HP divisions. On one of those trips, John Thomson, Karl Daumueller and myself went to address the divisions in the Bay Area and in Colorado. There were four Divisions in Colorado, we started in the south at Colorado Springs and we would finish in the north of Colorado at Fort Collins. It was a Friday, so all three of us decided to set off and do a bit of sightseeing, heading towards Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Mount Rushmore turned out to be a big disappointment, somehow I had it in my mind that all those President's carved into the side of a mountain would have been much bigger than they were, after all, everything is big in America.

    We started to head south over the weekend, each of us taking turns of the driving, the countryside soon turned flat and boring, we were now in the bread basket of America, hundreds of miles of flat wheat and cereal growing country. There was literally nothing for miles. The roads were straight as a die with very little traffic on them, not many people around either, in this, what appeared sparsely populated States. Before long, both John Thomson and I were touching on nearly one hundred miles per hour.

    It was Saturday and we stopped off at a place called Oshkosh, somewhere near the South Platte River for lunch. There was only the one dilapidated place and we were its only customers. So we set off again, this time with Karl Daumueller at the wheel, we had just been saying to each other about keeping the speed down when within twenty miles of a town. We were about fifteen miles outside Oshkosh and Karl started to push the speed up. Before you could say Michael Schumacher, a cop cruiser was heading towards us on his way back to Oshkosh. After a quick U-turn on went his siren and flashing lights, so we had to pull over.

    The Patrolman came to the window at Karl's side and said, "You were doing seventy five miles per hour on a fifty five zone!" Karl said, "Yeah I probably was!" Then the cop spouted forth, "Where are you from?" "Germany" Karl replied, "So you think you're Michael Schumacher on the Autobahn huh!, Well you're done!" Then the cop gets on his phone, and calls the small town Judge, "Judge, I've caught me a German speeder" Making it sound like it was a hanging offence! We could hear the Judge reply, "It's Saturday, I'm busy what do you want me to do about it! I'm not coming in for that, you deal with it!" There was a grunt from the cop, if he had had any sense he would have just let us leave with a warning. But nope, he was going to make sure this criminal paid the price. Unwittingly though, he was also about to spoil his own Saturday! "Follow me back to Oshkosh."

    We followed the cop to the Police Station, which was part of the Courthouse. It was all shut up and the cop couldn't get in, but he was determined. "Wait there he said, I'll be back!" He did return, fifteen minutes later with a key... Karl was in the cop shop for about half an hour, then they both came out and the Cop says, "We'll be back in ten." They were back in a lot less than ten, both went back inside the cop shop, another half hour passes and out comes Karl with a grin like a Cheshire cat, "Let's go," he says, and we set off to resume our journey.

    In the car Karl tells us the story. That bastard fined me two hundred bucks for speeding, and demanded the money there and then, all I had was one hundred and twenty, so he took that, then took me to a cash machine, despite me telling him it won't work. Then it was back to his office and he said get the money from your buddies. Karl said, "I can't do that, they are business people that I don't know all that well." Because Karl didn't have the full amount, it meant the cop had to fill in a lot of paperwork, much to his anger, he gave Karl a copy of the paperwork and said, "When you get home, mail the eighty dollars to this address." We all roared with laughter and Karl being a German, did as he was told, when he got home he did mail the eighty dollars to that address, but he sent it in the equivalent amount of Deutsche Marks!!!

    I received a request from the Irish Development Agency in Dublin, that they would like to show me around the increasing subcontract base in Ireland. Worth a good look I thought, so I set off for Dublin and was met by Tom Kennedy, who became a good friend in the months to come. Tom had fixed up all the arrangements, I had given him an idea of what I'd like to see and he did a great job, we traveled the length and breadth of Ireland.

    We were on our way to Castlebar en route to Galway. The roads in Ireland were quite narrow and twisty, so you need a nippy (fast-accelerating) car for overtaking. Getting near to Castlebar we turned this corner, and at that point I said, "Tom, speed trap!" Too late, the Garda pulled us over. Tom explained to the Garda who he was and what we were doing, it made no difference, he ticketed Tom. That worried Tom as this was the third time in as many weeks, and they would take his licence for a couple of weeks. I laughed as Tom had told me his wife was an advisor to the Teasoich, (Prime Minister) in the Justice Department and if she couldn't get him off with it, no one could.

    That night we were staying near to Castlebar, so we went into a small bar there. What a great wee bar it was. It was dark and had a little boxed-in corner where the ladies would sit and sup their Guinness. The bar was packed, as soon as the locals heard my accent they all wanted to talk. The pub was full of all the village worthies, the vet, the doctor, local farmers, butcher, blacksmith, they were all there. I think there was even a candlestick maker! I told them about the Garda stopping us and the reason for my visit to Ireland.

    You got a (expletiving) ticket, that ain't fair when you're here trying to place work. At that moment the bar door opened and in walked the village Justice of Peace. "Seamus" Somebody shouted, "Come here and hear this!" Seamus got told the whole story, which the bar patrons elaborated upon. Seamus said, "Hmmmm, that Garda is always an over-zealous bugger, leave it with me." Tom Kennedy later told me that the speeding ticket got dropped! So it's not a case of what you know, but who you know!

    I had one of those really busy schedules on my hands one day. I had driven up from England dropping off some USA visitors at Glasgow airport for them to catch a flight back to the USA, then I had to get to Edinburgh airport to pick up another group who had just flown in. The time between both flights was going to be tight, if the arriving flight was on time. So I dropped the first bunch off, bid them farewell and then set off for Edinburgh. The M8 motorway through Glasgow can be busy at that time of day, and it was.

    I was running a bit behind schedule, but once I got cleared of Glasgow the motorway opened up, there was a huge line of trucks and cars in the inside lane, so I just sped right past them all. I had no sooner passed the last truck than a car pulled out and switched on its blue flashing lights. Rats! It was an unmarked police car, I just pulled over to the side and waited till the car caught up. "Could you get into our car." the officer said. "You were going a bit fast." "Yeah, I'm sorry, I'm trying to get to Edinburgh airport to pick up some American business people." I replied. The officer said, "There was nothing wrong with your driving sir, just a bit too fast, you were obviously well aware of what was going on, because as soon as I switched on my blue lights you pulled over."

    The had me on camera, in fact I had overtaken three police cars, They clocked me at one hundred and five miles per hour! The officer did say that his report would state that I was in good control of the situation and suggested I try not to go quite so fast next time. I did get to Edinburgh airport in time to pick up the other visitors.

    My local host boss at that time was Tony Summerfield, who had just been stopped that same week for doing ninety eight miles per hour. So we both had to write a letter to the courts. I was obviously a better negotiator than he was, bearing in mind for speeding over 100 miles per hour. They normally take your license away for six weeks, Tony said they would take away my license and fine me £500. In the end we both got 3 points on our license, Tony was fined £120 and I was fined £70. Which helped me to derive a certain amount of personal satisfaction in being able to tell Summerfield that I was a much better negotiator than he was and he should have asked me to write his groveling letter to the court.

    48. Shalom...

    As part of the IPO strategy in Europe we wanted to expand into as many countries that would fall into our domain or area of coverage, particularly where HP was selling products. One of those countries was Israel, where the Israeli Government asked HP if they could look at outsourcing there. HP Israel was obviously very helpful and they assigned one of their staff to operate as an IPO Manager reporting into the European IPO. Rahamim Levy was the Israeli IPO Manager. Rahamim was quite a guy and fitted in really well with our EIPO Management team of Karl Heinz Hartmann, Pierre Lavissiere and myself. We were like the Three Musketeers plus Dartangian! I remember once we had a European IPO Managers meeting in South Queensferry and we went out to dinner and I took my wife Sheila along. She observed, "You lot are like a secret society, you only half finish sentences and each of you know exactly what the other is saying. I would defy any outsider to understand what you are talking about."

    We had decided to maximise our support for Rahamim Levy and I would go out to Israel and meet up with a procurement team from Boeblingen Germany, Siegfried Falk, Hartmut Wurfel. One of that team would also be a new IPO Engineer called Juergen Gerecke. Juergen and I became firm friends and still are to this day. I hadn't met Juergen Gerecke before, so I'd meet him at the Hotel in Tel Aviv. This trip was going to be something different.

    To help make our journey and entry into Israel easier, being in possession of a letter of invitation would be a big boon, plus to make things easier. Travelling business class would also make a huge difference, much to the disagreement of the host division management. Rahamim organized that letter and I set off for Heathrow to catch a flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. I turned up at the gate for the flight to Tel Aviv, and I should have known then that I was to enter a completely new security world. The lounge gate was surrounded by sub machine gun toting police, who first wanted to see my documentation, before I even had checked in for the flight. They were happy, so I went forward to check in. The check in was straight forward enough, so what was the hassle. I was told to sit in a specific place, I did as I was told. I was sat there watching all the orthodox Jews with long ringlets and black suits sitting all around. Some of the women's hair looked as if it had been torn out at random from their heads. None of my business, so I sat and waited. We were called forward to board and every item of carry on was x-rayed, twice!

    The flight over was fine and I looked around to see if I could spot which passengers were the Israeli secret air marshals. But they didn't give anything away and I couldn't see any bulging jackets that might give a hint of a concealed firearm. Plane landed on time, but then I came up against the Israeli Immigration, it was going to take some time before they let me in. Their technique was very good, a couple of very good looking female immigration officers, interrogated me about everything and why I was visiting Israel, I told them the reason for my visit, showed them the letter of invitation and told them I was being hosted by Rahamim Levy. Wait there I was told and they walked off with all my documents.

    Five minutes later a different two equally good looking ladies and a machine gun toting man in uniform came up to me. They asked me exactly the same questions as the previous two ladies had asked. Then the guy with the gun said, "You say the name Rahamim like you are from these parts?" I responded by saying that I know the gentleman personally, so know how to pronounce his name. But the sounding of the words are close to words we use on Scotland like Loch." He grunted, they handed me my papers and said, "Have a nice stay!"

    The hotel in Tel Aviv was fine, St David's Hotel, quite up market and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. There was a knock on the door and in strode Juergen Gerecke, who shook hands and said, "Let's go for a beer, John." I didn't need telling twice, we went off for a drink on the roof terrace. Juergen ordered a beer, I ordered a large Gin & Tonic. The waiter arrived with a McCawbee Israeli Beer for Juergen and a G&T for me. It looked good but it tasted odd. I said to Juergen, "I don't think there is any Gin in this!" Juergen had a taste, then turned around and bellowed at the waiter, who promptly took my drink away and came back with another, which this time tasted like a G&T. I found out via someone else, they would do this with tourists and skim it off for themselves. I complained to the manager and next day an apology was in my room along with a huge bowl of fruit.

    Rahamim had organized a good schedule, a lot of the credit goes to Judith Ohana who kept him right, Judith came from Morocco. It was to last a week and would take us not only to visit the suppliers, but also a trip around the key sites of the Holy Land, which to me was unbelievable. The places I was visiting took me back to my childhood and upon hearing of those places at school and Christmas. The suppliers we visited covered a wide range of businesses. Many on the fabrication side, apart from Plastic Injection Moulding and the internal machine shop for a final high frequency filter supplier, had a ways to go to catch up with what was available in other western countries. But I got the feeling they wouldn't be that far behind for long.

    What really impressed me was what the Israeli settlers had achieved in the middle of the desert. We would be driving through the middle of the Negev Desert, turn a corner and right before us was this huge area of cultivated land, there was a Kibbutz. There were many, each specializing in some form of production or other. The ones we were visiting were manufacturing subcontractors. I was so impressed at what they were achieving, it's a pity really no solution can be found to the troubles with their Arab neighbours. If it was possible, Israel could bring so much to the development of this Middle East region, but for now that is not to be!

    Although at that time it was safe for us to travel throughout Israel and the occupied parts, I always felt a bit uneasy. I was always on the alert, and felt that it was simmering away just under the surface. I knew we would be looked upon as westerners who were aiding and abetting the Israeli regime, so it paid to be careful and not to offend in any way. There were some areas I felt even less safe, Jericho, Bethlehem, Beersheba and parts of Jerusalem were the most noticeable, but around Jericho there were some displaced Palestinian refugee camps, which didn't look the nicest places to live and were obviously a breeding ground for discontent.

    We did identify Filter suppliers that would be of interest to NMD and they became a supplier. Germany was interested in a Transformer supplier who also became a German customer. When we were visiting the Transformer supplier, it was quite a tall building and overlooked the nearby Israeli prison, I'm glad I was not locked up inside there! What was noticeable was that there was a heavy presence of the Military and Police wherever we travelled.

    I said to Rahamim that the Israeli army has to be the most beautiful army in the world, I had never seen so many good looking women in military and police uniforms. There was an unwritten rule that whenever you see a member of the military walking on the roads, people would stop and give them a lift if they were going in that direction. Rahamim said that as we were on business, it was okay for him not to stop and pick up any soldier. Of course all of us in the car, who had already commented on the good looking army, badgered Rahamim to stop and pick one of them up. Which he eventually gave into and did. Unfortunately, the one he did eventually stop for was probably the ugliest in the whole army and who didn't speak a word of English!! Serves us right! We jibed Rahamim about getting new spectacles, then he told us that when he was called up to do his National Service, his eyesight was so bad, they put him in the artillery division! And he was driving us all over the place too!

    I have to admit, that although the business side of the trip was very enlightening, the sightseeing part will always stay with me. When we were walking through the old city of Jerusalem, we would frequently come across army check points, they were checking all the Palestinians passing through. Those check points were manned by usually four soldiers, two male and two female, Juergen and I had some fun with them, they were open and friendly towards us and wanted to know about Scotland, I eventually got my picture taken sitting on the knees of the two female soldiers armed with their sub machine guns, I told the two guys they would spoil the picture, they laughed and shook their heads.

    The old city of Jerusalem was all that I expected it to be and more, it was so old, parts had been excavated that were over 3,000 years old. It had the old narrow streets full of Arab Souk traders of all descriptions, quite mesmerizing, I ended up coming away with Arab head gear for my son. Our path through the old city took us past the Western (Wailing) Wall, women on one side, well away from the men on the other. Rahamim, who had a good sense of humour, pointed out the radical orthodox Jews who were wailing against the wall. At which I commented to Rahamim, "I know what they are wailing about, they as saying, Oh those prices are too high!" Rahamim just about choked in laughter.

    That evening Rahamim took us to dinner in Jaffa, just a little way down the coast from Tel Aviv. It was a very old restaurant where we sat on the outside balcony to dine. We overlooked the square, and high enough up to also look out over the sea and the sun setting beyond. The square was surrounded by tall palm trees and a camel or two. At night in that light, it was like something out of the Arabian Nights. It was to get even better as every evening a show took place on the square, how could such a beautiful setting have so much trouble.

    The bread and the cake we ate, looked so drab, but the taste was superb. I couldn't believe how sweet the cake was, it all got washed down with strong Arabic coffee, which has to be an acquired taste. I said to Rahamim, "This coffee always has, on the bottom off the cup, what looks like a spoonful of sand, is this the way you are trying to get rid of the Negev Desert?" Rahamim laughed and said, "You've twigged our secret!"

    On our way back Rahamim dropped us off on Dizengoff Street. It's the main thoroughfare in Tel Aviv, a couple of blocks from our hotel. But on this main shopping street they have this enormous water fountain that on the hour erupts into a big display of water and fire. Quite a sight to behold. All around this fountain are metal crush barriers to help control the people around the fountain. The three of us were standing against the barrier awaiting the water and fire show, and right in front of us was a police van, with three members of the police force on the front seat, all of them very attractive women. So we were going to have some fun with them. We started talking to them, telling them how lovely they looked and that we loved their nail varnish. We were telling them it was a pity our police force was not as pretty as the Israeli police force. They said did we want to get arrested, which brought even more banter from us, then they started to blush, at that point they smiled and moved 25 yards further up the street.

    We visited Bethlehem, as there was no way we could go there and not visit the birth place of Christ. It's hard to describe the feeling of walking across Bethlehem Square and through the very small doorway that led into the catacombs. Knowing that man had walked those steps for thousands of years before me was quite an eerie thought. It was beautiful inside and at the very spot where Christ was born, it is marked by a silver star, but then major disappointment, a crib containing a plastic baby doll supposed to represent the baby Christ. How on earth they can get away with such a glaring embarrassment, I don't know.

    One of the routes Rahamim had chosen was by Masada, this was where the Romans had surrounded the Israelis who were holed up in their mountain fortress retreat, which eventually lead to many Israelis jumping to their deaths. Today there is a cable car that can take you to the top, on the day we visited, it was stopping that day before lunchtime for maintenance. So we could take the cable car up, but we would have to walk back down, not a problem, it's downhill right!

    We had made a couple of elementary mistakes in our thinking, firstly the sun is directly overhead and it got stinking hot. We had no head covering, and we only had a small bottle of water each, we didn't realize these things at the time. The view from the top of Masada is impressive, as it looks out over all directions as it is the highest mountain around. You can look across the Dead Sea to Jordan and south towards Saudi Arabia and across the Negev Desert. We could see how the Israelis held out so long against the Romans as they had this huge underground cavern that held all their water. Talking of which we had now run out of water and it was getting hotter by the minute. However there was water up at the top and we could quench our thirst, well all of us except one, Siegfried had decided the water was not safe to drink, and being a strong minded German was determined not to drink any water until he could buy a bottle somewhere.

    We started off to walk down to the car park, it was now very hot, and by about half way down we were all out of water. It must have been hell for our German colleague Siegfried Falk, because he had had no water for ages as he refused to take any from the top of the mountain. We finally reached the bottom and there was a huge tank full of water. By this time Siegfried, who was by now a bright beetroot colour, ran as fast as he could and dived head long into this water holder. I've never seen anyone try and drink as quickly as he did, I'm sure he almost drowned in the process! We were all neither up nor down with drinking the water, but I think I came close to getting sun stroke that day.

    Not far from Masada we stopped at a place called Ein Gedi. It was an oasis smack bang in the middle of the desert. We had to walk into the source of this little stream, it was shaped like a narrow long fissure that had carved its way through the rock. It was beautiful to see, this crack in the landscape full of greenery surrounded by desert. The source of it was bubbling up from underground, pure spring sweet water. Under that hot sun we all stripped off and had a bathe in the cool sweet water, it tasted great. By the time we walked back to the car, we were all dried off. Next we headed off towards the Dead Sea Resort, past the area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found not all that long ago. The area is riddled with caverns, many not fully explored.

    The Dead Sea Resort looked a bit odd with the high rise hotels dotted around, it was a place that people came to, to take the health giving benefits of dipping into the salty mineral Dead Sea. Who were we not to also partake? I must be one of the very few people who almost managed to drown in the Dead Sea. You could see the lumps of mineral salt everywhere, sticking out above the water. The water is supersaturated with the mineral salt, it contains about 25 percent salt solution, which is deadly painful if you get it in your eyes.

    Juergen and I stripped off and went straight into the water; it's an odd feeling to be in water that was so buoyant. Of course everyone has to get a photograph of sitting in the Dead Sea reading a newspaper, and I was no different. I shouted to Juergen give me that brochure and take my photograph. Juergen handed me the brochure and said, "Keep it dry, I want to take it home with me." Photograph taken, I moved to sit upright and stand on my feet, but instead, I moved my centre of gravity and because I couldn't get my legs and feet down. I flipped over 180 degrees and was face down under the water, and I still couldn't get my feet down. Thank goodness for Juergen who came to my rescue laughing at my stupidity and misfortune. Juergen quickly flipped me onto my feet, but I was blinded. I couldn't open my eyes and the pain was almost unbearable. Juergen led me to the showers by the water side and I soon flushed the salty mineral water out of my eyes, and off all the rest of me. It was not a pleasant feeling having all that salty mud drying on your skin. As before, it was so hot down there in the lowest point on the planet Earth, you soon were dry again. The water seems to vaporise almost instantly.

    Last stop on the way back was past the River Jordan to Lake Galilee on the Golan Heights side of the lake. This turned out to be a favourite spot for Israelis to relax and have family BBQ's. It was packed, but this time we didn't have enough time for a swim in the lake, it was a quick look around and we headed back to our hotel.

    One other sightseeing spot Rahamin took us to was Caesarea. It was north of Tel Aviv and was where the Romans had a huge amphitheatre. It was still in pretty good condition. You could sit down on the circular rows of marble seating and imagine what went on below you in the actual arena during the Roman occupation. I told Rahamin that is was Caesar's most favourite place where he liked to spend his birthday. Rahamim was all ears, he thought I was serious, until he got the punch line of the jokes. I told him that for each birthday year, he would put the same number of Christians into the arena and turn the lions loose on them. Then one year, there was one Christian still alive and waving his arm and it sounded like he was singing! Caesar went down to the Christian and bent forward to hear what he was singing, and the Christian was singing... "Happy Birthday to you..." At that point Rahamim had tears streaming down his face with laughter.

    As we stood up to head back towards the car we passed the beach. I pointed out to Rahamim that on one birthday year, Caesar had decided to have a BBQ on the beach in celebration. That year, for a change, the entertainment had an equal number of Christians to his birthday years, but they would be buried in the sand up to their necks. Caesar would sit high up on the rocks and watch them drown as the tide came in. I went on to tell Rahamim that that year also held a special surprise for Caesar. As he sat on the rocks awaiting the return of the tide to do its drowning deed, he could hear the Christians once again signing. "What are they singing," he enquired. But no one could make it out. Caesar went down to the water's edge to listen to what they were singing. He bent his head down towards a Christian, whose head was going from side to side, and heard the words of the song... "Oh I do love to be beside the seaside..."

    From that trip to Israel onwards, Rahamim Levy was a loyal member of our European International Procurement Operation Management Team.

    49. Division Capability...

    Similar to the IJBU situation with 3M our IPO came across it even between divisions. I have already mentioned some other examples, PAFC believing that their internal manufacturing capability far exceeded that of the external subcontract supplier capability, they were totally wrong. Each and every time our IPO would prove the opposite and then we would come up against strong resistance to change.

    Another similar situation arose to that which happened when the PAFC manufacturing capability was challenged, but on this occasion it was between SAD and NMD. NMD always stated that their internal Machine Shop was a 'state of the art' world leader. They saw it as bordering on as near as you can get to R&D expertise when it came down to machining parts. To be fair, to some extent this was true, but it could not be applied across the whole of their manufacturing expertise, which was what NMD professed. Much of it, including some every complicated machining, our IPO could easily match from a supplier within an hour's drive from our IPO office, that company was called FACTS. (Fife Auto Cam & Tooling Services).

    It all started peacefully enough when we easily undercut NMD's prices on high precision machined Connector parts as well as with the machining of some RF Filters. It was just as we had done with the Sheetmetal Assemblies, Pressure Die Cast Parts and Plastic Moulded Parts versus PAFC.

    It was the usual story; SAD products were under severe price competition from their competitors and they were desperate to cut cost structure. On this occasion SAD brought to my attention, during a visit I was making a very complicated machined Wave Guide, the current cost of which was a staggering $850 each! It was a complicated and difficult part, for that I would agree, but the price still seemed to me to be exorbitant. NMD had said to SAD that no one in the outside world could make this part; the technology was just not there. I like a challenge and so much wanted to prove NMD wrong. If I could achieve that, I would be able to drive a wedge between SAD and NMD that would impact their machining relationship forever.

    Once I got back home I set off for a meeting with FACTS, armed with sample part and complete documentation and specification. As soon as FACTS saw it, they also agreed that this was a very complicated and difficult part, but FACTS Management also liked a challenge and they never ever wanted to be beaten by any machined part. FACTS got immediately onto it. They got together with their local University to work out a software programme on how this machining could be done and also on how to actually measure the part. This approach was so successful, FACTS got the part exactly to specification at their very first machining attempt. What was even better, the cost of manufacturing this Wave Guide was $150 each. An amazing $700 cost reduction in one stroke! It was just as well I never divulged the NMD manufacturing cost to FACTS!

    NMD point blank refused to believe that the Wave Guide could be manufactured at such a low cost. NMD approached me requesting that they send their Machine Shop Manager over to see FACTS, I told NMD that Sam Scott had visited and that they should speak with him. I was immediately wary of this NMD request and let FACTS know my concerns with this. This would be a hostile visit, but working with FACTS and because I had taken FACTS Managing Director Bill Davidson on a USA trip around some of the HP divisions, FACTS felt comfortable in allowing the visit.

    I arranged to take the NMD Machine Shop manager to FACTS and squeeze in another couple of supplier visits for him. In the end, the NMD Machine Shop Manager had to concede that we had an excellent supplier, like nothing they had available in the USA amongst all their suppliers. Clearly, FACTS was capable of making that complicated Wave Guide, as well as many other parts which NMD were making.

    But that same internal protectionist mindset that existed within PAFC was just as prevalent in NMD. This time their argument against downsizing their machining capability, was that if they lose the manufacture of this Wave Guide, it could lead to the further loss of their machining skills if downsizing was to take effect. Thus it would affect their ability to manufacture future complicated parts emanating from the R&D department. It was just the same old usual protectionist claptrap. It did though, lead to NMD not putting up such a resistance when SAD placed more Machined parts with our IPO. So in hindsight, SAD got the best of both worlds, they could source more with our IPO, but not this Wave Guide. However, we had proven it could be made for $150 and not $850, so NMD had to supply the part to SAD at the IPO cost, with NMD making a loss on the part, another nail in their coffin. Our IPO now had more enemies within NMD to work with.

    I don't have to go too far from home to find procurement decisions made by inexperienced non procurement/purchasing folks that seem illogical. For some strange reason, unknown to me, and beyond my logical comprehension, when QMO was being set up as a starter division, the decision on what office furniture was to be purchased and installed throughout the facility, was made by the Financial Controller.

    The phrase "Everyone's a Buyer" yet again springs to mind! The office furniture of his choice, had firstly an unbelievably long lead-time for deliveries, and the cost of each item of furniture was extortionate to say the least. We could have received office furniture of equally if not better quality from our nearest flat-pack supplier, or even from one slightly further afield at a tenth of the cost, I still can't believe the cost HP paid for a desk. My office furniture I have at home, is more than I had at HP and cost me a lot less than my desk as HP. In fact, with the money saved I could have had a superb evening out on the town with my wife!

    If I didn't know any better, I could have been led to believe that perhaps someone on the HP staff had shares in the supplying company. I happened to hear of a few people make similar comments on in passing.

    50. Should they be let out?...

    There were times in our IPO capacity when travelling or hosting supplier visits with people from other HP divisions, you would find yourself saying to yourself, "Why do they let people like that out to represent the HP company?" There are examples where those air-heads, even when accompanied by professional HP Procurement people, still somehow managed to open their mouths at the most inconceivably wrong time and cause HP some level of embarrassment.

    We had a situation with an R&D engineer from McMinnville. McMinnville Division was part of the Medical Group and they manufactured HP's Defibrillator Products. It could be that this incident was maybe due to the fact that McMinnville is sited away in the boonies of Oregon and that some of their employees just don't get out all that much!

    McMinnville were having problems in finding a Relay supplier capable of manufacturing a Relay to meet their new product specification. Our IPO was asked if we could help. We found a supplier in the UK called EEV, and the cost of their part was extremely competitive. McMinnville sent over their Procurement team to carry out an audit, along with this team, was their R&D engineer who was responsible for the engineering design and specification of the Relay they were seeking.

    Prior to meeting with the EEV management, I briefed everyone on their roles that they should take up during the meeting. I told the R&D engineer, to stick to only discussing the technical aspects of the Relay. Leave all the other details like lead-times, Tooling, pricing etc. to the others in McMinnville's Procurement Team and our IPO. Everyone agreed that this is the best way to proceed. As an engineer myself, I found the plant tour was really interesting as its manufacturing processes were something we would not come across very often, although the metal contacts manufacturing processes was widely known to us, the glass forming processes were new.

    After the plant tour we all gathered around the meeting table in EEV's Boardroom to discuss all the various aspects. We kicked off firstly with the R&D engineer's overview and the technical requirements. It was during the R&D Engineer's discussion on the technical aspects of the EEV manufactured sample Relay that he had tested back in McMinnville, he suddenly blurted out in all innocence, "We have searched the world for a relay to meet our specification, and you are the ONLY supplier we have found that is capable to make the Relay to our tough specification." That R&D Engineer, suddenly sat up straight, as he quietly tried to recover from me almost breaking his ankle from the short hard kick I had placed on it under the table. I could almost see the smile coming over the EEV management as they thought, "Only supplier in the world huh! We can name our price here."

    Afterwards when I spoke to this R&D Engineer out of ear shot of others and told him what he had just done, he was still wondering why I aimed a short kick at his ankle. His face visibly changed as it dawned on him exactly what his remarks meant. He said, "Sorry John, I just didn't realize what I said could have that effect, I was just so pleased we had found a supplier when it looked hopeless." Clearly, he was glad we were there as he would have paid any price to get that part.

    Our IPO received a request from Boise DMD. Bob Mortensen wanted to come and see some of our suppliers as they wanted to improve their global knowledge base. Not a problem, it would give us an opportunity to show things off. Although Bob was a really nice guy, it was pretty obvious he had not travelled far. We got wind of that very quickly, when he asked the question, "Can I get a taxi from Heathrow Airport to South Queensferry, I looked at it on the map and it doesn't seem that far." Never give a Scot an opportunity to set you up, because we will! I replied with, "Sure, but make sure you have plenty of money, because the taxi fare to drive four hundred and twenty miles, could be a bit expensive."

    His next e-mail asked the question, "Could I hire a car and drive?" By asking that question, it was now time to wind him up, "Yup, you can get a rental car and drive." Back he came with, "Do they have automatic cars?" My reply was, "You can hire an automatic, though most cars are stick shift, so you have to order the automatic ahead of time." I went on, "But remember we drive on the other side of the road than you do in the USA, which is not a problem really as you soon get used to it. However, you need to also remember to take into account that the driving pedals for brake, clutch and accelerator are the other way around." Back Bob came with, "It's probably better if I just fly to Edinburgh, could you pick me up and take me to the hotel?" Which was what we did.

    During Bob's visit with us, he was an easy target for our humour, John Thomson and I were driving back to South Queensferry with Bob in the car, as we approached from the west side we got a great view of the Forth Railway Bridge, a world famous cantilever bridge. John and I started to tell Bob about the bridge and how it worked and that it was a real pity there was no train crossing at that moment. We joked that he would be able to see the train go up the slope on one side and down the slope on the other!! He believed us! We never did see much of him again!

    There was a period when Tom Cunningham took over the Corporate Management of the IPO's. Tom liked to visit Europe, so we saw him fairly frequently. On one occasion when he came over, we had a currency change in the UK, well in England really. The Bank of England had done away with the One Pound Note and replaced it with a One pound Coin. Unfortunately, Tom had a One Pound Note from his previous visit and couldn't use it. He said to me, "John, this One Pound Note is no longer valid!" As he handed it to me, I said, as I delved into my pocket to produce a One Pound coin, "No they are obsolete and have no longer any financial value as they have been replaced with this One Pound coin, you should just throw it away, or keep it for a souvenir." At that point Tom smiled and took my one Pound coin and said, "You can throw it away or keep it for a souvenir!" I just shook my head and stuck the one Pound Note in my pocket.

    Some months later though, fate dealt me a favoured hand. I was in the Roseville area and decided to spend the weekend in Reno having a look around. I was sitting in a Casino bar having a beer and got talking with the guy sitting next to me. Turned out, he collected money from other countries. I gave him that One Pound Note telling him it had been replaced with a One Pound coin. So I gave him a One Pound coin and a bunch of other British coins so he had a full set. We had a couple of more beers, then the guy said, "I have to get up early, thanks for your company, I need to hit the sack." He got up to walk away and as he turned he flicked a coin at me and said, "Don't put that in the slots!" He had just flicked me an 1833 silver dollar made in Carson City! I checked it out when I got home, back then it was worth about $50!!!!

    It gave me great pleasure when I was back in Corporate in Palo Alto to rub it into Tom Cunningham that I got this silver dollar for that One Pound Note he dumped on me. You could visibly see his chin drop, he couldn't believe it, it was my turn to smile now.

    During the early days of QMO, the site would frequently get visits from the top managers from the divisions which QMO was building products for. I will always remember we had this visit from NMD General Manager, Bill Wurst. He wanted to give everyone a big morale motivational boost, and at one point during his presentation, he said, "I want you all to get up off your Fanny (woman's private parts) and get moving!" He couldn't figure out why he didn't get a laugh all round, until someone told him afterwards why! He really meant for us to get up of our butts, but he didn't know at that point that Fanny meant something else in the UK, which was probably just as well as his blushes might have shown.

    Political Correctness was one of my biggest bug bears and it was rife throughout HP, throughout the USA for that matter. I could never figure out why they could not see when someone was being downright derogatory towards someone and those who were just having some fun with no malice intended whatsoever. There was a case in Corporate that was downright stupid.

    A woman who had been attending a meeting that was running late, nipped (jumped) into Jim Jones' work cubicle to use his phone to call her babysitter to tell her she was running late. Whilst she was using the phone, she noticed on Jim Jones desk a photograph of a young teenage girl clad in a skimpy bikini sitting atop a convertible sports car, a Corvette Stingray. The next morning that woman went straight to the Personnel Department and complained about the photograph of the scantily clad girl sitting on Jim's desk and demanded it be removed.

    Jones got called into Personnel and they told him to remove the photograph as someone had found it offensive. Jim refused, and stated the woman had no right going into his work area without his permission. The woman was told this, but adamantly still demanded the photograph be removed. Again Jones refused, eventually Personnel said to Jim that if he didn't remove the photograph, he would face disciplinary proceedings. At which point Jim said," Are you telling me I cannot have a picture of my daughter on my desk?" Personnel fell silent, if it's your daughter, well that's different.

    Personnel told the woman that the picture was of Jones's daughter and they could not tell him to remove it. The woman said she didn't care, it was the wrong type of picture to have on an office desk! Personnel then asked Jim if they could do them a favour and take the picture down, if nothing else but to get that woman off their backs, and that they had now marked her card for the future. Jim took the photograph down, but reinstated it a month or so later! I doubt if that woman's career moved much further after that episode, if it was down to me, I'd have sacked her!

    51. Let's steal each other's Lunch...

    Our IPO was always fighting a constant rear guard action, where divisions and others tried to climb on the back of the successful work carried out by our IPO, and that of other IPO's. Many divisions just seemed to think, "Oh well, the IPO has done all the spadework in identifying and setting up successful suppliers and subcontractors. But those suppliers and subcontractors are manufacturing our division parts for our products, so we have the right now to take control of all the supplier management and procurement of our parts. They would have had the IPO's let them, and if they did, they soon came to realize they could never ask our IPO for help again.

    It was not just the non-European divisions who wanted to steal our lunch. It seemed it was open season for everyone who thought along these lines to attempt to try and do it, for instance, HPP Corporate. We also got the same nonsense from the European divisions, as well as some IPO's, that tried to get up to those sort of tricks. As I already mentioned, Centrale Einkaufen in Germany tried it on, as well as IJBU Dublin.

    What really got to me was when it turned out to be another IPO that was after our lunch. It was even more painful when the IPO's were forced into being self-funded. It happened more and more as our suppliers, in an effort to reduce costs, moved their manufacturing bases to lower labour cost countries. SIPO, (Singapore International Procurement Operation) had an issue with this, Power Cords again!!

    As previously mentioned we had convinced Volex Pencon of the need to manufacture in those low cost country regions, or they could lose out on business, not just from HP but their other customers. SIPO realized that Volex Pencon had manufacturing facilities in Singapore and in Batam, Indonesia, which was their area. They wanted those orders for Power Cords being manufactured there, through their IPO office. SIPO contacted the Singapore Volex Pencon and found support within that organisation, they too also wanted a share in this business. It ended up with SIPO pressurizing our IPO and Volex Pencon Singapore pressurizing Volex HQ in the UK. Volex Pencon Singapore met with a big fat NO! and were told to keep out of it as the business would be managed on a global basis from Volex Pencon UK HQ. That in turn (expletived) off SIPO.

    That event didn't stop SIPO from trying to poach some of our other business, but that would work both ways! Singapore Divisions and Penang in Malaysia, would order parts and components from UK suppliers via our IPO. This gave me and those in my team ample opportunities to visit South East Asia and the Far East to market ourselves and what our IPO had to offer as well as promoting our suppliers.

    With all the out sourcing of Printed Circuit Assemblies, it ended up with all the IPO's playing in each other's backyards, which was really a bit of a mess. The prime reason being that the end user HP division in each IPO region wanting their local IPO to manage the restricted component supply. They needed greater flexibility at short notice, and getting prime access to the limited supplies of certain components. Having the IPO next door to the PCA subcontractor, made for quicker and easier reaction times.

    There were two big exceptions to this, the first was the USIPO, which did the dirty on all the other IPO's. USIPO visited all the major high volume user HP divisions, mostly in the Computer Group, offering a "Buy & Sell" component service. The goal being to preserve HP's pricing from being known outside HP. The process was to buy the components at the HPP Corporate negotiated global contract price and sell the parts to the PCA CM (Contract Manufacturer) at the market price, refunding the difference to the user HP Division. The USIPO knew full well all the global IPO's could offer that very same level of service, especially as many IPO's were much nearer the PCA CM than the USIPO was. In this case the USIPO used a different argument when they visited those HP divisions, they convinced a number of divisions that since it was HPP Corporate that negotiated the global pricing contract for the limited supply components such as Drams. Moreover, the USIPO was sitting in the next desks to those in HPP Corporate who managed the contract, and it made sense that the USIPO should handle these parts. Why those divisions swallowed that I can't understand as Corporate brought no added value to the party.

    Fortunately, the USIPO made such a colossal mess of managing this "Buy & Sell" process. The divisions soon saw the error of that channel and used the IPO's nearer to the PCA CM. It also turned out later that not only did the USIPO do such a lousy job of managing the component parts to the PCA CMs, but HPP Corporate had done an equally lousy job of negotiating the global HP price for Drams and other short supply components. All of that debacle came to light when HP acquired and integrated a much smaller computer company called Apollo. Their much smaller Corporate Procurement Group had negotiated much more competitive component prices from the same component suppliers than HPP Corporate had achieved! However, it was the manner in which the USIPO had sneaked in there in their Machiavellian way that irked me and many of the other IPOs. We were also unhappy in the way they sold the process to the HP divisions on the USIPO/HPP Corporate relationship and being within the same building.

    What really screwed the USIPO and eventually led to the other IPOs gaining access to this business was, because the USIPO hadn't thought it through properly, it ended up causing a lot of heartache all around. The IPOs, and in particular the USIPO, being housed inside Corporate, didn't have the computer systems in place to manage it. Though IPOs that were hosted within a host manufacturing division were somewhat better off, as we had access to the divisions Materials computer systems, we could in a roundabout way have part system control on the business. The USIPO didn't even have that sort of access. This failure on the USIPO part had a big knock on effect. The other IPOs were getting tarred with the same brush, even though we were not at that stage involved and our other businesses were running to plan.

    A new IPO specific computer procurement data system was urgently required. It became apparent that the other IPOs had to keep a wary eye on this as it would have become a USIPO specific computer system! Jim Rooney in our IPO would head up our input on the software development. Jim Rooney had to fight many a hard battle as the USIPO was in such a dire need, it threatened at nearly every turn to become a USIPO specific system.

    The second problem area was with the German IPO over Drams. They were purchasing Drams from the Japanese supplier NEC, less than half an hour from our office. It was big dollar business, where GIPO had been buying the parts for the German Divisions for the German designed products being manufactured in the USA. It was easy to argue that GIPO was playing in our sand-box and as this was very early in the PCA CM business days, both Jim Rooney and I pushed hard on this. Doris Fischer in the GIPO saw our challenge as life threatening to the existence of the GIPO, and Fischer was much more assertive and aggressive than Karl Heinz Hartmann was ever going to be. To be truthful I admired Fischer's tenacity. She was more typical of the other Germans we dealt with. Hartmann was more of the German aristocratic type of breeding than Wolfgang Zenger ever was, as my wife would later describe them both.

    This is the Scots contingent, showing how to turn out for a IPO meeting, kilts and all.

    Karl Heinz and I worked the issue out to the satisfaction of both IPO's, we would leave the current GIPO set up as it applied to the current German Products and NEC. In addition, we would also let GIPO manage the numbers between NEC and our IPO current and future HP users division's needs, but we would hold access to supplying those PCA CM's for the user divisions GPCD, BCD and Bergamo who wanted our IPO support.

    The compromise worked well, Doris Fischer was happy as she didn't feel threatened and it gave her a bit of status as she managed the numbers for the European Dram usage. It reduced at a stroke our two IPO's infighting, though it would still allow what I believed to be healthy competition between both our IPO's, and that helped keep us both on our toes.

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