A Loser Rebounds Ch. 12byEgmontGrigor2011©
Andy headed for Chicago in the mid-size Volvo he'd been driving that Francis and Evan Archer had purchased for him and the company senior management people had chipped in and presented him with a Bulova Wittnauer black ceramic diamond dress watch.
"Evan, Frances, you guys... you have been great to work with," he choked at the presentations and had to blow his nose before he could say more.
Andy set off for Chicago and stayed off that night in Salt Lake City and took the contract journalist Alan and wife Anne to dinner and next day headed for his family home in Wyoming. The kids appeared to have grown, although he'd last visited the farm only a month earlier and next day he headed for a night in Sioux City and reached Chicago next afternoon.
After a few hours' sleep, he called a couple of females he'd known carnally. The first said she had married and never to phone him again and the second said she was married and where could she meet him.
Paula stayed at the hotel with Andy two nights and went home before her husband, an airline pilot, arrived back in town. Anyway she'd only taken two day's leave, allegedly to attend a favorite aunt's funeral.
God she'd developed into a ball-drainer," Andy sighed. Now why couldn't he marry a babe like that, er perhaps not quite so sexually demanding? He had another couple of hours' sleep and then called Linda. She welcomed him back to Chicago and invited him to come to the office whenever it suited him.
"Yes," she said, sounding pleased, and gave him directions.
The administrative headquarters of Thurso Fresh & Frozen Foods, established in 1910 by two brothers from, yes Thurso in Scotland, was on the 9th and 10th floor of a good-looking building in West Adams Street, in walking distance from Andy's hotel. He though it was an impressive address.
Andy eyed everything as if he were the business owner because that was how he operated, only this time at the age of thirty-two, he had more executive power than he ever had. He knew Linda well would allow him to do things his way because she would be confident they'd be right for his style of management.
There were two women at reception, neatly dressed and smiling and an older woman sat behind them had the appearance of having some authority. Some historic photographs of the company were on the wall. He made a mental note to have a photograph of a modern activity of the company hung at the back of reception so people approaching for the first time would see that this was a company not locked in its past.
"Good morning sir. Welcome to Thurso Fresh & Frozen Foods. How may I help you?"
Andy was left with a good impression. The young woman looked great and was word-efficient with warm delivery.
"What a pleasant welcome. I'm Andy Ash, here to see Mrs Hoffman. She's expecting me."
The young woman lost her smile and turned quite pale.
"A M-Mr Ash is our new CEO. Y-you can't be him. You are not m-much older than me."
The middle-aged woman seated back from the counter came around and smiled at Andy and said, "Do you have a problem Libby?"
"Um this gentleman c-claims to be Mr Ash."
"Well I daresay the gentleman knows who he is. Good morning sir, how may I help you?"
"I'm the new CEO Andy Ash. Could you kindly take me to Linda?"
The woman sucked in extra breath and to her credit she didn't miss a beat. The stairs or elevator sir, it's only one floor up?"
"The stairs please."
"I will come around to you from a side door. Oh please meet Libby Young and Mrs Thelma Ross."
"Hi girls. I apologize for being young but someone has to break the mold."
The two women laughed nervously.
"Welcome to the company," Thelma said.
"Thank you Thelma. I love your necklace."
"It was a wedding present from my maternal grandmother. My grandfather gave my husband a shotgun."
"Oh sounds like excellent selection of gifts to me but the downside is you could borrow the shotgun but your husband wouldn't want to wear the necklace."
Thelma said nervously, "I think not sir."
"This way please Mr Ash."
Andy turned to the woman and said asked her for her name and title.
"Mrs Jill Hopkins and I'm office manager. I'm sitting with the receptionists because both are new and I'm assessing them."
"Good work Jill. You are in management so please call me Andy."
"Are you sure?"
"As sure as you know you are Jill Hopkins. It's my style. I'm big into the team approach to management as opposed to the autocratic style."
"We actually have a bit of both around here. In the ten months Mrs Hoffman has been here she's made real progress despite having an autocratic chairman opposing her changing much at all, but she's won the battle and he left last Friday."
Andy invited Jill to compose a confidential report about the things that required changing in her department about improving the working environment, how efficiency could be increased and other things that could make people happier with their workplace.
"I've never heard top management talk about making workers happier."
They reached the top of the stairs and Andy said, "Are you happy in your work Jill?"
"Yes of course."
"And why is that?"
"I'm paid well, I have a lovely office and largely things in my department are run my way."
"I suggest when speaking to your people casually you ask them are they happy working for you and what could be changed to make things better for them."
"Goodness that sounds rather revolutionary."
"Actually it's called personnel management. I'll talk to you more about that soon. How many staff do you directly manage?"
"That's a big team. The happier they are working for you the better it will be for everyone."
"Well yes, I can see what you are getting at."
Andy smiled at Jill. "So callers all go to the ninth floor and if their business is up here they are either brought up here or the person they wish to see goes down to bring them up. I notice the button on the elevator to the 10 was operational only with a key. Was all this Linda's work?"
"I thought so."
Linda appeared from an office and said, "Hi Andy, welcome to your new business home."
"Thanks Linda," Darcy said, moving in and kissing her on the lips.
He then turned to Jill and said, "I worked in Linda's department years ago, my first position after graduating."
"Yes and even at that early stage, before long I recognize Andy had exceptional talents."
Andy smiled at the office manager. "Thanks for bringing me up her Jill. We must chat soon."
Linda took Andy's arm and said, "Well people will now hear that you kissed me on the lips and we used to work together and I regarded you then as a boy wonder. Come in and view the office suite the executive chairman occupies. It might be yours one day."
After a brief chat, Linda took Andy around to meet the six executive officers including the company secretary who worked on that floor and then they returned to Linda's office she said she'd agreed to the two changes he'd required to be made to his contract and the document was ready to be signed. Andy checked the two changes against the draft contract he'd brought with him and was satisfied when Linda emphasized no other changes had been made.
Andy confirmed that by checking his salary ($189,000) and provisions for profit-sharing. Linda called in the company's attorney and the document was signed and Andy received his copy. He'd was almost back to where he'd been at the height of his short corporate career in California before being fired and it had taken him a little over three years to gain that lost status.
He breathed a sigh of relief.
The attorney left and Linda called in her PA, introduced Andy to Gail and gave Gail the contract to file.
"Andy, something is going on that I can't tell you about regarding the ownership of this company," Linda said. "I have been given assurances that nothing will change here, that the operation will continue as if nothing has happened."
"You mean a sale?"
"Yes but that's all I can say."
Her phone went and she talked in a low voice to the caller and then said. "Omigod, when? She then listened and said, "In thirty minutes. I'll be there."
"Shut the door please Andy."
Linda said solemnly, "The sale was finalized by our two cornerstone stockholders, with the consent of the other eighteen other parties holding the remaining 22% of stock, at 10:00 this morning. New conditions were demanded by the buyer and the result will be that this operation will be fully integrated into the buyer's own operation as a division. The agreement was everyone here will have to reapply for their positions."
"Andy I assure you I knew nothing about that integration condition of sale. Our 7-member board decided to keep me out of the sale process because I was a salaried officer of the company. The purchaser is Silver Foods Corporation and our board was also aware of course that I had held a senior management position in that company. For some reason the board decided that made it inappropriate for me to be involved in negotiations, even as an observer or a consultant. I failed to agree with that thinking but it was a legitimate decision of the board that left me high and dry."
"Silver Foods eh? This might be the shortest job of my career. Silver Foods might not want me back on board again."
"Oh yes they will. That caller was the new chairman of Silver Foods, a professional director brought in to quell discontent within the board ignited by feuding between the board chairman and his deputy. Both were voted out of office by the board when an extraordinary meeting was called to perform that act and to elect the new chairman Donald Grace. Donald just called me to say thirty minutes ago Silver Foods CEO Carlos Rizzo went to step into an elevator on his office floor when he collapsed and soon afterwards while being assessed by paramedics died, apparently the result of a cerebral aneurysm."
"Good god, that's terrible."
"I agree and this will distress many people beside his family. Well I've been called to an emergency meeting of Silver Foods' board where Donald expects I'll be appointed CEO-designate, with me assuming the position of CEO the day after the funeral. I had been Carlos' deputy CEO and was fired on the instructions of that previous out-of-control chairman and I came here as the company was looking for a new CEO."
"God what a mess."
"Indeed," Andy said, his mind analyzing the situation. I believe the directors of Silver Foods, a company listed on the Stock Exchange, will wish to minimize any fall in the price of its stock and they will want you dealing with stock market officials, advisers and the like. Therefore you should appoint a three-person management committee to run this company with me as chairman until things get sorted out. You need to give me two good thinkers and administrators from your executives, the best two."
"Yes I agree with that and agree three in the best number. I'll call Barry the attorney now to transfer my executive authority to you. I know I can trust you not to mess up. If you disagree with any major issue with your two committee personnel then defer it or else call me. Our board members here are investors without much knowledge of running a business."
When Linda had gone to her meeting, briefing her PA that Gail was now temporarily working for Andy who would work in his own office, Andy called a meeting of all the executives in the boardroom.
What a first day mess to have to clean up, he groaned to himself but not believing it. He thrived on challenges like this.
Linda had scribbled the names of the executives and where they would sit at the table and indicated Andy should sit at the head of the table.
The four males and two females trooped in and looked angry at being called to a meeting without notice.
Andy smiled and enjoyed stunning them.
"Linda apologizes for her absence. She has left me to deliver the big news. At 10:00 this morning papers were signed for the sale of this company to Silver Foods Corporation."
Most of them looked stunned. Rex Pennington turned belligerent and demanded, "Why weren't we told of this?"
"That is something you ought to ask your board members who made this deal, voting to exclude Linda from negotiations because she had previously worked for Silver Foods and was a salaried executive of this company."
"Well Linda was horrified to learn the plan for this to be a simple change of ownership, with an agreement that this company just carry on as it always had and then only to learn at the eleventh hour that agreement was dropped and in order to achieve the sale, this company's board minus the excluded Linda, agreed to this company being absorbed into Silver Foods as a division. So where does that leave us? Even Linda has no idea."
The group began muttering.
"Please there is more," Andy smiled. "There's a good chance Linda will bounce back in control. She's at a meeting right now where it is possible, and she thinks probable, that the board of Silver Foods will appoint her designate CEO of the corporation following a tragedy about an hour ago when Silver Foods' CEO Carlos Rizzo collapsed and died at the elevator at the floor of his office of a suspected sudden brain hemorrhage. Until she came here, Linda was Carlos' deputy."
"I suggest you talk about this now and get it off your chests."
There was a burst of chatter until Rex said, "What about you, virtually a boy; how do you intend running this company?"
"I know people nearing retirement age like you Rex think of young people as boys or girls. I'm in fact thirty-two and actually worked for Silver Foods until four years ago in Linda's department. Well will you all please listen to this statement from Linda I recorded before she raced off."
"Hi team, this is Linda. I've been called to an urgent meeting as Andy will have told you. He knows he's just stepped in the door as CEO and although I have assigned him executive control, he has suggested he operates with two of you as a three-person executive with himself as chairman. I think that's a sensible idea. If I am appointed CEO of Silver Foods I shall personally manage the absorption of Thurso Fresh & Frozen into Silver Foods, so you can look forward in that event of being treated fairly by someone who knows you rather than ruthlessly by someone afar who only thinks about the bottom line."
"Andy asked me to propose two of you to join him on that committee. It was a tough call and has nothing to do with seniority. I worked closely with Andy at Silver Foods so know his thinking and his style. Therefore my decision is partly based on computability with Andy and I recommend Andy should appoint Dianne and Thomas. Keep smiling guys."
"Dianne and Thomas," Andy called. "Are you willing to join me on the executive steering committee? There is not pay incentive I'm afraid."
They both said yes.
Rex looked ready to explode because he was the company's operations manager.
"I don't accept this shoddy arrangement at all."
"Control your temper Rex. This company is now temporarily without its captain and I need you to pull your weight. I want loyalty to the company from you, not dissent in this hour of need."
"And if I decide to fight you all the way?"
Andy smiled. "Aw come on Rex. I'm not going to be pushed into threatening you. Linda's comment at the start of her message was, 'Hi team'. Let's all work as a team. The task for our team is to keep this company running as if Linda were here. Now does anyone have questions?"
Andy was asked about job security but said he had no idea. If anyone was to go it could be him.
"If this company becomes a division of Silver Foods it won't require a CEO, it will be headed I would think by a general manager. That person could be me or if they wanted someone experienced it could be you Rex or a person like you. Who knows? I don't. My thinking is we'll have some answers, perhaps not all, within ten days. I suggest we all sit tight and wait and see."
"Dianne and Thomas, could we meet as a committee back here at 4:00 today. Thanks everyone. I apologize for being young and being the bearer of the bad news that sucks. Jeepers this has been a horror first day initiation for me."
Andy walked out and closed the door behind him to give the team the opportunity to talk mutinously. He entered his office and Gail came in and he scowled.
"Oh dear, behaving like children were they?"
"I can tell you I'm not happy."
"Oh dear, would you like a back rub. Whenever my husband..."
"No thanks, that was a kind offer but no thanks," he said to the mousy brunette and wondered who the hell would want a back rub? He then attempted to work out what his reaction would have been had Gail been a tall, big-tit blonde and had asked did he want a back rub? He thought he was a selfish despicable guy not even fit to run a hot dog stand.
Thirty seconds after Gail had left without rubbing anything, Rex the operations manager entered.
Christ what now!
"We had a quick meeting and I was asked to deliver the result because I was declared the worst offender. We agreed unanimously to do our utmost to back you to the hilt in keeping this company ticking over. I apologize unreservedly for acting like an asshole at your meeting. I know I'm still sore as not being considered for the CEO position but I guess it's my trigger temper that was partly the reason for that. Would you like to come and see my little world?"
Andy said he had already been into Rex's office with Linda.
Rex grinned and said, "Yeah but this time we go through the Green Door."
Andy followed Rex into his office where Rex punched in a code on the door lock pad and they went through the green door.
Andy gaped and Rex appeared delighted at that.
"We are so advanced with our distribution system this is almost mid-21st Century technology, borrowed quite extensively from air traffic control systems at airports and coastal defense monitoring systems except we used radio signals for feedback rather than plot by radar. I'm a former civilian radar technician in the USAF."
"Our competitors have heaps of people taking telephone orders, those orders appear on-screen to other operators who sort the orders into sectors and forward the orders for deliver either by phone direct to drivers who might be carrying sufficient extra supplies not to have to come back to base, or else the drivers return to base pick up their new orders and even wait for more orders before going out. Some restrict orders from say 6 am to 10 am and then 1 pm to 3 pm. And that's how it is in most areas of the country."
"Yes, I have some idea of how that operates," Andy said, looking at the huge wall screen.
"What you have here," Rex said proudly, "Is the heart of our monitoring center -- the map of greater Chicago. The moving red dots represent the positions of the portion of our fleet of sixty-eight delivery vehicles that are on the streets at present. We can change that big screen to focus on close ups of any either outlying sectors or full the screen just with downtown and we can slice that into quarters if necessary and zoom up the area. That green light is our warehouse base. And rather a delivery service that is pretty standard from 7 am to 4 pm or so, we are aware some of our customers operate 24/7 so we'll deliver 6 am to 9 pm 24/7."
"Gee that's impressive."
"Yeah well it's what customers want, not what we want."
"We only accept email orders. Each customer has a code and so our computer reads that code and channels the order to the correct vehicle where the driver gets the print out that is out of reach so he or she doesn't attempt to read the orders while driving. The delivery vehicle driver at the next stop feeds the delivery orders into his or her onboard computer. If the computer reads there is sufficient stock on board for a complete delivery, that order is printed out and the computer subtracts those products from the database of onboard products. Even if there is one product short, the onboard computer alerts the driver and the driver decides whether to send that order notice to the warehouse for packaging ready for later delivery or to a mobile warehouse. Those mobiles are up to eight large vehicles we park on bits of land we lease divided into refrigerated and non-refrigerated areas. The driver walks through and packs the orders and affixes barcodes."