It happened today. The plant where I work has been sold.
The good news is; all the employees get to keep their jobs and their current rate of pay. I’ve had to arrange for a new benefits package, and as is usually the case in situations like this some of the benefits are “better” and some not. On balance I think we did pretty well.
The bad news is... Well, I don’t really know if there IS any bad news.
We used to be part of a large corporation. In fact, it was a major oil company. Huge resources (read: deep pockets) but lots of bureaucracy. It was nice being able to spend money for needed improvements and programs without worrying too much about making more sales to pay for it.
And the plant has been profitable, after all.
Now we’re going back to being a highly leveraged organization (read: deep in debt) that has to keep a positive cash flow on a monthly basis to keep the bankers happy. We’re much more sensitive to the whims of the marketplace. Fluctuations in the value of the dollar and the price of oil have more impact. Keeping our customers satisfiedwith premium quality product is essential, as a major plant outage could be catastrophic.
But none of that is bad news. We’ve been there before. Demand for our product is increasing and prices continue to rise, so we ought to do OK. We’re used to operating on a shoestring when we had to.
I guess the worst part is the uncertainty on the part of the employees. The perception is that they now have less job security than they did yesterday because we’ve gone from being part of a big company to being a very small one all by ourselves. And as we all know, perception is often more important than reality.
So it looks like it’s going to be a day-to-day thing. Employees will watch management very closely to make sure we’re not screwing up. Our hope is they don’t get so involved in watching US that they lose focus on their jobs and their own safety.
One large property damage incident that shuts down production for a while could result in that major outage I mentioned a few paragraphs back.
So I guess we’ll all be watching each other for a while. Each group needs to trust the other. And we do, most of the time.
Our new owner has the potential to make a lot of money with this plant over the next few years. He has promised to share those profits through significant bonuses with employees, but that depends on the profits happening.
We’ll hope for the best. Meanwhile I’ve got to get our new payroll system working in time for our regular paychecks to come out (and be correct!) two weeks from today. Then I’ve got to set up a 401(k) savings plan. A new employee policy manual is the next step. Meanwhile there are a myriad of details to be taken care of: new signs, business cards, letterhead, computer network setup with new email addresses and much more, contacts with many businesses and agencies to communicate our new identity, new licenses for our radios, new security plans for the Coast Guard, environmental permits, tax ID numbers... (deep breath).
OK, I’ll stop. Suffice to say I’ll be a bit busy this summer.