A few more comments about Samsonite Corp. in case that particular dead horse has not been sufficiently beaten (“Samsonite suitcases pack up for final trip,” March 12, Page 6).
Samsonite has reaped what it sowed. I believe its demise probably started when it adopted the automotive approach to supplier relations: slash and burn, lie, squeeze and squeeze until all quality is bled out of the product, and/or the supplier perishes or cuts off relationship to avoid it.
Their approach to customer relations was just as bad – they either were not there, or didn´t know anything, or just straight-out refused to back their low-quality product.
I spent six weeks in Eastern Europe monitoring a tooling program that my employer was having done there at Samsonite´s insistance. Samsonite had downsized everyone with technical knowledge of the program, and the product designs were incomplete and full of errors and contradictions. [The Samsonite workers] were not able to understand technical questions, much less answer them. Their problem-resolution tools were limited to sarcasm, personal insults and threats – more shades of automotive.
The program was somehow completed successfully and very nearly on time. Samsonite then reneged on the molding business and moved it offshore.
Every automotive supplier I have dealt with in the last five years has in one way or another expressed a desire to do something, anything, other than automotive work. The automakers have contempt for both their suppliers and their customers, and the same poison fruits that Samsonite planted and choked on are growing in the automakers´ gardens.