Re: Harbeth new recruits (April 2006)
We have a step by step solution to increasing productivity, shortening leadtimes and moving our company forward to meet the new business environment challenges. Thank you to those of you who have recognised the painful path that any small business must follow as it grows up: conversely, those who have seen our incremental approach as a sign of our dissinterest, deliberate strangulation of the market or whatever - you are so extremely wrong. Wrong in fact, wrong in interpretation and wrong to believe that such comments are in any positive sense motivational.
What never ceases to amaze me is the vague preception that the audio industry is flush with cash and that somehow wafting dollars around will solve all problems. That's the thinking of twenty years ago: the golden days. There are now definite limits in the capacity of manufacturers right through to retailers to make big, bold and expensive investments in their businesses. We all have to think smarter - much smarter to survive and thrive. Reckless expansion is not sustainable - not that it ever has been in this industry - and for that reason there really is no alternative to a calculated, incremental, financially prudent, internally funded growth. But first you have to resolve the fundamentals - the limits to efficiency, throughput etc. - the nitty grity. That we have addressed and yes, Production did work through the four-day Easter break to make more RADIAL drivers to permit maximum system production this week.
Our new staff member will work primarily in the drive unit (RADIAL) production area. That will remove the bottleneck that's become apparent, perhaps increasing efficiency by 15-20% which can all be put towards system production.
The end of the current sales pipeline is now at the begining of November 2006, a considerable time away in what we are advised is a fickle audio market with customers that 'absolutely must have this instant' regardless of the fact that we are and have always been a craft business. Self evidently, there are customers who have taken this situation on board, got orders into the pipeline and will get deliveries: they have confidence in the Harbeth brand. We now all know where we are going.
As to increasing our storage on or off site, our long experience is that the more man handling of cabinets, the more prone to damage they are. That is not a solution, it just creates a different sort of problem: the paperwork to reject cabinets that fall below standard back to the supplier is extremely time consuming and frustrating: added costs for no benefit whatsoever.
One thing I can absolutely guarantee: faced with the many constraints on the industry and our tiny niche within it, it is only possible to meaningfully criticise when appraised of all the facts. To do that, you have to spend time here with your sleeves rolled up.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK