A Savage Factory is a true memoir straight from the factory floor of an automotive giant losing the global auto war to smaller, weaker, less experienced foreign competitors that beat us at our own game on our own turf. It gives an inside look, up close, at incompetent management at war with the labor force that created a quality nightmare and caused the car buying public to lose trust and faith in American cars. It is a true story of the inner workings of Ford's largest automatic transmission plant: the people, the machines, and the never ending war between management and labor that produced low quality cars that opened the door for foreign competitors to come to our country and take our auto market. It gives real life examples of the battlefield like conditions in the auto plants that caused alcoholism, drug addition, sexual harassment, and family breakdown, while producing transmissions that received the largest recall in automotive history and would have caused Ford Motor Company to go bankrupt had the Federal Government not intervened.
SELECTED PORTIONS OF CHAPTERS:
Inside there were four dirty, dented gray metal desks. Ed herded me to the desk occupied by a man who looked like a fully clothed skeleton. His face was a mass of wrinkles, and his right eye was obviously false. A yellowish liquid like Elmer's Glue, or the snot under a three year old's nose, seeped from the fake eye, which was turned to the right even though his good eye was looking to the left.
The skeleton was aware that Ed and I were standing in front of his desk, yet he ignored us. Ed acted like being ignored was normal etiquette at Ford Motor Company, and risked a long shot at the corner waste can. The tobacco juice fell short, and ran down the side of the trash can over ageless stains of previous near misses.
After an uncomfortable minute or two the skelton looked up and examined me with his good eye like a customer in a butcher shop evaluating a steak. He shook his head slowly with an expression of utmost despair and moaned "You aren't telling me that this is the hotshot Roger hired from P&G, are you?"
Ed spat another stream in the general direction of the waste can and said "I just do what I'm told. I was told to go to salaried personnel and get the guy from P&G and that is what I done."
The skeleton got up and moved around to the front of his desk. He said "I'm Larry, senior General Foreman of Zone 3. This here is Ed. Ed is General Foreman. Ed is your boss. You report to Ed. Ed reports to me. I report to Roger. Let me tell you up front. I don't give a hairy rat's ass how many college degrees you got or where you worked before. You don't work there no more. You work at Ford Motor Company. At Ford Motor Company there is only one thing that counts: your numbers."
He said "Do you know what is the main impediment to producing automatic transmissions at Sharonville?"
I said nothing, and Roger continued.
"The hourly workers are the main raod block. The UAW figures it has us by the balls because they know how badly we need these transmissions. They hold back production. They sabotage production. They file grievance after grievance to tie us up with paperwork. The hourly want to control the plant. They fuck us up at every turn. There is a war going on out on that floor. Sometimes it flares up, other times it dies down, but it never ends. It is a battle for control. The hourly are like the Viet Cong laying in wait for a chance to strike at us. But it is OUR job to call the shots. We are management. It is THEIR job to do what we tell them - they are labor. Now I don't know what kind of people you managed at P&G and I don't care because your're not a P&G anymore. But at Ford the hourly are the bottom of the barrel. There are drunks out on that floor. There are dope addicts out on that floor. There are lazy bastards out there that would cut your throat in a New York minute. Our biggest problem is keeping up with assembly plants in four states and Canada with the lowest quality work force in the United States. Do you know how we do it?"
Robert J. Dewar came from a working class family in the bituminous coal fields. He paid his own way through Penn State and receivied a full academic scholarship to earn an MBA at the University of Southern California. His first job was at Procter and Gamble, managing the Duncan Hines Cake Mix operation in Cincinnati. When he left P&G to take a supervisor's job at Ford, he was shocked at the incompetent management, the never ending war between management and labor, and the lack of real quality standards. He quickly concluded that at some future time the entire auto industry would simply collapse under its own weight, much like the old Soviet Union collapsed. Dewar wanted to give people a long, hard look behind the walls of auto plants to show people how the cars were built that lost our largest and most important manufacturing industry. So he kept a daily journal. He made copies of telltale internal memos. He made an extensive collection of defective parts that were routinely assembled into Ford C-4 automatic transmissions. When Ford received the largest recall in auto history because of defective transmissions built at the Sharonville Transmission Plant, Dewar decided to write A Savage Factory.