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Old 12-01-2016, 05:25 PM   #1
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20 Minute Horn at JC Factory in the '70's

When Beatrice Foods owned AS, they were always looking for ways to increase production due to the fact the sales were doubling every 18 months. One of their ideas was to send a young MBA to JC to do some time studies and see if modifications could be made to the manufacturing process to increase the number of trailers produced. After a week of watching trailers being made and doing some stop watch timing of workers on the line, the Beatrice MBA returned to Chicago to write up the findings/recommendations.

The big finding that came from their work, was to install a horn in the plant and to have it go off every 20 minutes. They had determined that each worker should be able to complete their portion of the trailer in 20 minutes, so the horn would blow to remind them to move on to the next trailer. Everyone at JC was doubtful that this would work, but the horn was installed.

Very bad idea! Trailers rolling of the line with unfinished/partially finished furniture, kitchen and bathrooms. Plant manager had horn removed and the assembly went back pre-Beatrice study.
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Old 12-01-2016, 05:31 PM   #2
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What school did that guy go to? 😳
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Old 12-01-2016, 05:46 PM   #3
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A Milton Friedman boy from U of Chicago.
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Old 12-01-2016, 06:29 PM   #4
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Seems they still use the horn with all the complaints here.

Do you know what a learning experience is? A learning experience is one of those things that says "You know that thing that you just did? Don't do that."
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Old 12-01-2016, 07:25 PM   #5
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MBA went to U of Chicago and she did not really understand manufacturing. Most of what Beatrice owned was dairy products, wine making and they owned Samsonite luggage so they were way out of their comfort zone with AS.

Have had two other RV's and AS quality is still superior. Of course for the price difference it should be! Plus they tow like a dream and hang together pretty well.
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:45 AM   #6
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AMF did similar tactics in the 70's to Harley Davidson. The factory pushed out unfinished motorcycles only to be completed by the dealers.
The higher your expectations the fewer your options.
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Old 12-02-2016, 05:06 AM   #7
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My Dad worked for Samsonite for nearly 40 years. Beatrice came in and totally scalped the company and left it in a huge mess. It was never the same after that.
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Old 12-02-2016, 08:04 AM   #8
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In most acquisitions, within a few months all the cash is gone in the acquired company, the acquired company is in debt up to their eyeballs and morale is in the tank. The folks that knew how to run the company have been fired. Many newly acquired firms just do not make it under these conditions.

The above scenario is based upon my experience watching our family business (1,400 employees) be bought and sold so often the name was put up above the door with velcro and the letterhead was printed by an inkjet printer.... It was finally sold off piecemeal and there is nothing left except in my memory.

Airstream's president is rewarded for the profit generated, not the quality going out the door. Airstream is becoming more like Cadillac in that there is more over priced glitz than substance on many of the newer models.

We see the product line like at Ford years ago: Pinto -> Ford -> Mercury -> Lincoln and the difference was only in the plastic trim. The bigger cars had the same frame and drivetrain.

Airstream has Sport -> Flying Cloud -> International Serenity/Signature -> Classic. The frame and floor plans are the same in the Flying Cloud and International trim lines, so the big price difference is based upon different formica and flooring?
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Old 12-02-2016, 12:50 PM   #9
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Early 70's

The early 70's was a crazy busy time at Airstream with production up to 22 trailers a day. When the new plant open it had a drag line to move the trailers through the plant and the speed of the line could be adjusted from the production managers office.A buzzer would sound when ever the line would start,each station had a switch to stop the line which would activate a red light....and the foreman for that area to find out why. Each department was lined off so each operation had to be completed in that area.Giving YOU the sense of urgency to get everything properly completed and inspected before entering the next area.
Every area had inspectors to verify the processes.
Ahhh the memories 😎
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:48 PM   #10
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Things were busy at Versailles as well. The Argosy trailers were taking off and producing the Argosy MH was a real challenge. The plant workers at Argosy were mostly young guys who worked for a chicken processing plant in town and were so happy to be building RVs instead of being up to their elbows in chicken guts. They had a can do attitude in those days and their was lots of pride in the workmanship of the Argosy. Since the same group of engineers did the work on both AS and Argosy, there was alot of AS baked in to each Argosy. Big differences were carpet, drapes, upholstery, front and rear end caps (galvanized not aluminum) and quality of laminate. Frame, running gear, appliances and most of the exterior was same as AS. Argosy always looked finished with the two tone paint job vs AS unpainted.
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