Audio Recordings "We perceived we were working for the full factory, as opposed to having the factory do things for us."

Format Audio Recordings
Contributors McCarl, Robert
McLaughlin, Ian M. Watson
Dates 1994
Location New Jersey
United States
Language English
Subjects Ethnography
Family Run Businesses
Machinery Industry
Oral History
Sound Recordings
Watson Machine International
"We perceived we were working for the full factory, as opposed to having the factory do things for us."
Contributor Names
McLaughlin, Ian M. Watson (Narrator)
McCarl, Robert (Interviewer)
Created / Published
Subject Headings
-  Oral history
-  Interviews
-  Sound recordings
-  Family-run businesses
-  Watson Machine International
-  Machinery industry
-  Ethnography
-  United States -- New Jersey -- Paterson
-  Interview with Ian McLaughlin, CEO, Watson Machine International.
-  Summary of audio segment: McCarl question about changes in the company from an independent production shop to an assembler of sub-contracted parts from various international manufacturers. Ian says that the company is no longer vertically integrated. It used to be. "There definitely was a background of real craftsmanship here, I mean we make everything. We used to make our own hand tools down in the foundry. Literally all the wrenches and the screwdrivers and everything. [Pointing to a screwdriver on his desk] I think we made that screwdriver right there. Actually, I think that screwdriver was made in Germany. That was the way things were made. Well, the fact is, we sort of drew a line in the sand about flip, because there wasn't a real demand for our machinery, because we were in a cyclical business and we were going out and getting jobs when the cycle was down, to keep the factory busy. We perceived we were working for the full factory. As opposed to having the factory do things for us. And when we were able to get rid of the factory and find out now what do we really need and how can we rationalize it, we found that this thing was running on its own steam. And we came in and said, 'My god, this thing isn't working. In other words, you come into a garden and you find that you've got this kind of product and that product to sell, you say, okay, good, we'll keep going with that garden; but then demand goes up for another part of the garden, it's hard to water it over in the corner, you know, you change. And that's exactly what we've done. And the fact is, that was pretty scary. I was scared, I said 'Oh my god, will we really be able to find people?' I mean, we were building machinery, CNC machinery, it was start, it was stop; get a rpoduction job, do this, do that. I had a lot of advice and I was floundering. But we were able to stick it through and now the fact is that when the time comes we can rationalize buying production machinery, which is a discipline, and you can't find it elsewhere, and the mathematics are correct, then we'll do it. But we'll be in charge of that. And someday, down in the future, there will come a time when somebody else will come in here, unless the thing is well-managed and clear in its perception of where the it's going. They'll flounder around also."
Analog Audio Cassette
Call Number
AFC 1995/028: WIP-RM-A011
Source Collection
Working in Paterson Project Collection (AFC 1995/028)
American Folklife Center
Digital Id

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Credit line

Working in Paterson Project collection, 1993-2002 (AFC 1995/028), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

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