Monday, April 04, 2005

My Company is being sold. So?

As you can read in my blog header, I am a practicing Human Resources Manager. I’m proud that the plant where I work has a very low employee turnover rate. As far as our ownership, however, it’s the proverbial revolving door.

The plant first started production in 1983. I came to work there in 1986. I was the third HR manager in 3 years. Oh, yeah, the stories I can tell you about this place! Some are destined for a future book, if I can ever get the first novel published. Some are so bizarre they’ll need no fictionalization (is that a word?), and others won’t need much.

The place was built by a British firm, and then sold to a group of managers and other investors in a Leveraged Buy Out. (An “L.B.O.” — remember those, back in the 80’s?) We operated under that identity for a few years, then changed our name and “went public” through an Initial Public Offering (an IPO — remember those?).

In the late 90s the company overextended and then saw a sudden downturn in our markets. Can you spell “BANKRUPTCY?”

Yep, the banks shut us down. We were listed among their “non-performing assets” and sold to the highest bidder.

Our knight in shining armor turned out to be Unocal, short for Union Oil Company of California, Inc. That purchase took place in July, 2003. Uh huh, less than two years ago.

It’s been a great association. Unocal has huge corporate resources (read, deep pockets) that we have been unaccustomed to for the last decade or so. The contrast after coming out of a bankruptcy liquidation sale at auction has been dramatic to say the least.

But all good things, as they say... (Sigh) Today, Unocal announced that they have accepted an agreement to be acquired by Chevron Texaco for a mere 18 BILLION dollars. So before the end of 2005 we will be changing our name again.

Same ol’, same ol’. Everybody wants to know what it’ll mean to them. The answer is, nobody knows yet. All I can tell employees is that so far everybody who’s bought the place has operated it. That means they need operators and maintenance folks and managers and staff. Chances are we’ll all be fine.

It’s another distraction from the routine, a topic of never-ending buzz and conversation among employees as the various parties conduct their “due diligence” and the lawyers run up their exorbitant fees. And I was just starting to figure out who was who in Unocal.

Ah, well. Cycles of change. Remember Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game?

And the seasons, they go around and around
And the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came,
And go round and round and round in the circle game.

Great song. Right, Joe?

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