1984 – MDE and Policy

Editor’s Comment:
Back in 1984 I started my second consulting firm in my life. This is a snippet and I will fill in more later.


I opened an office in Torrance CA because I didn’t want to work out of my home as I did with Production Data Systems in the late 60’s. Using an extra bedroom as an office proved to lead towards more distraction than work.

I also hired my secretary from the Hughes Tool Company days, Barbara. She had been working as an office manager for the past fifteen or so years at a medical office. I found her, offered her a job and she immediately gave two week’s notice to join me. That’s loyalty and trust.

She had faith in me.

Besides her outstanding work ethic and job knowledge I hired her so I would have to make a payroll. Even if was only one person. That in turn would force me to get going.

So I hit the ground running and in the first 9 months grossed $385,000 in IBM hardware and software sales commissions, GMD software sales commissions and consulting fees as a one man consulting firm.

Before hiring any new help, I was the lead consultant implementing MAPICS MRP systems in 16 companies in the Los Angeles area at the same time. By 1986 MDE was under contract with IBM Los Angeles and IBM San Diego under a contract called the Marketing Assistant Program, (MAP).

The MAP contract with IBM acknowledged my expertise in manufacturing systems and the first time I signed a contract with IBM I was on top of the world.  Think of it, “ME,” Chuck Diaz, with no degree, with no programming ability, is recognized by IBM! Wow! Life was good!

What I did have was a ton of real life experience actually responsible for shipping everything from Shillelagh Missiles to Hughes helicopters, from F-4 electronics to Mercury and Apollo environmental systems, from aircraft actuators to ram air turbines, I had done it all.  I thought I had finally received my due recognition in the form of a contract with IBM..

When I hired my first employee consultant, I had to offer him a $120,000 bonus because he didn’t want to work for me.  I had met Frank when he was with GMD and he was a prior IBM’er.  Frank didn’t really like me, but money talks and he accepted my offer.  He was a talented individual and knew the inner workings of IBM, something I was not familiar with. When he joined MDE I had one office located in Torrance CA.

I knew he and I wouldn’t get along in the same office, his personality wouldn’t allow it.  I instead opened an office in San Diego and moved there with a fairly sizable account that allowed the move.  Most people who have worked for me usually come around to my way of thinking after a while   Frank became one of my most loyal employees over the next few years.

My method of operation, (MO), appeared radical to most people who didn’t know me, but I am who I am.  An example of my MO was the way I would interview a potential consultant.

I insisted that MDE consultants had to know their craft at a level ten of knowledge.  A level ten is when you can answer a question that someone asks after another question on the same subject, requiring a deeper level of knowledge.  The first question is level one knowledge.  Answering a second deeper question, on the same subject, is level two knowledge.  A third answer to a deeper question, on the same subject would then be level three knowledge and so on until you can answer ten questions, each deeper, on the same subject showing you truly are a master of that subject being discussed, a subject matter expert.

Of course a consultant would have to have that deep of knowledge on hundreds of subjects relating to manufacturing, accounting, purchasing, production and inventory control in a manufacturing or repair and overhaul environment. This knowledge must include manual systems as well as automated systems.  Today I doubt any manufacturing systems consultants could create a manual system to run a manufacturing plant that lost all its computer capability.  We could.

If the applicant had the qualifications, he also had to answer another question during the interview.  It became known as “The Question.”

“Let’s assume you’ve been working on an account for four months located outside of San Francisco.  At 11:00 AM you get a phone call from the account and they are ready to sign, but require you to fly to SF and be in a meeting at 4:00PM. The commission you will receive is over $30,000″

“You have the reservations made and are driving to the airport to catch the 1:00 PM flight to SF from LAX.”

“On the way there your next door neighbor calls and says they just took your wife to the hospital to have your first child.”

“Will you make that flight?”

Those who answered “No” didn’t get the job.

In my world it’s far more important to his life, his wife’s life and his new child’s life that he continue and make life as comfortable for them as possible.  It’s also important to my company’s life and my customer’s life.

After coming to work for me, and this included at Airesearch, Hughes Tool or any other job, an employee learned very quickly that I don’t accept failure.  I have a sign in my office that reads:

Good excuses are no longer accepted for not getting the job done.

I mean it and I hold myself to the same policy.

If you read Hughes Tool Company, Unions and Me you know what I’m talking about, but as a minor, minor example, on one occasion I had to get to San Diego from LAX. I had to be at a meeting with a potential customer. IBM was counting on me.

Due to traffic, I arrived at the airport late and the flight was full, but I had to be on that flight.  I ran all the way to the gate and tried to buy a ticket there.  No luck.  So I jumped on the ticket counter and yelled out to the crowd my plight and offered $200 for a $29 ticket.  I got my ticket and was on my way.

Do not fail, EVER!

In the manufacturing consulting environment there are hundreds of consultants who can tell you what is needed to improve a company’s performance. There are only a handful of us who can show a company how to improve their performance and make it happen. It’s a much more complicated environment and my catching a flight example was very simplistic, but it shows an attitude of not failing.

More about MDE next.