“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
The above paraphrase from that master of American literature, Mark Twain, sums up our thoughts about Toby Royal's letter in the Sept. 29 Mailbag [“Coperion demise sad for once-strong firm,” Page 6] that began with her comment, “Another good company bites the dust!”
What appears to have inspired Ms. Royal's letter is the difficult fiscal issues Coperion Corp. and many of our customers have been experiencing over the past three years: a squeeze on sales and earnings and how Coperion has reacted to this squeeze. The present situation in the United States is nothing unusual as you review the industrial and economic history of our country. This particular phase has just gone on for a longer period of time than the majority of up-and-down cycles we have seen in the last few decades.
The typical consequence of many of these business cycles is high employment, high employee compensation and high company earnings during the good years and reductions in these factors during the bad years. The bad years are virtually always accompanied by layoffs and the sad human toll that these actions take. I am personally out there visiting our customers and I hear many of them say that they have taken the same reduction-in-force actions the economy has forced Coperion to take.
One of the major positives of all this, however, is the strategic planning and changes that companies are forced to undergo to remain healthy. The important news is that Coperion has in no way “bitten the dust” as our former employee Ms. Royal infers. In fact, by outsourcing a good deal of our engineering and manufacturing to our affiliates who are better able to handle the varying workload any capital equipment manufacturer faces, Coperion is emerging as a stronger and more efficient company.
We also empathize with Ms. Royal's viewpoint regarding the capable people who have lost their jobs, and we thoroughly resent her inference that somehow our current management takes a less than “humane” view of having to release these employees. Those of us who had to wrestle with the decisions regarding job reductions lost many a night's sleep in this difficult process.
The result of all this agonizing, however, is a leaner, more efficient, and stronger Coperion Corp., able to offer better service and to be more responsive to the needs of our customers.