What's in that Pelco water?

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

CLOVIS, Calif.--Pelco president and chief executive officer David McDonald is a man with some serious gravitas. He thinks before he speaks, looks you in the eye, then delivers just enough to answer your question without offering anything that doesn't interest you. His shelves glisten behind him with Pelco's 11 straight Superstar Awards from integrator buying collective PSA Security Network and he drops his humble veneer just enough to let you know he's proud of them.
But that pride pales next to the pride he feels for his employees, who he says, "feel like part of a team that wins the Super Bowl every year" because of "thousands of correct decisions made when nobody was looking."
It might be hard to swallow if the evidence weren't so openly abundant. When you tour the Pelco campus, the jewel of Clovis, Calif., you're hard-pressed to find one of the 2,000 people who work there without a smile radiating brightly from a kind-looking face. The spacious assembly areas, office cubicles and warehousing spaces are clean and bright, welcoming and efficient. The Sept. 11, 2001, memorial that McDonald has erected is vibrant and living, a place for somber reflection but never downcast.
That's why you believe him when McDonald says that his Early Warning System has allowed only one item in the last year, among millions of shipments, to leave his company after a ship date promised to a customer.
That's why you believe him when McDonald says that Pelco hasn't had to replace a broken item sent back to the company in three years, because the maintenance department, as promised, has been able to repair every item sent to them within 24 hours. In fact, they once took in a mis-shipped item from another company, fixed it, and returned that in 24 hours, complete with a gear they had to fashion from scratch.
That's why you listen in rapt attention to the story of Vickie Garcia, the first EWS manager, who found herself one day, after a couple of power outages and faulty computer messages, with a package in her hands that hadn't been shipped by its allotted day, and all the shipping carriers gone. So she called up the customer and, despite his insistence that he really didn't need the part that badly, drove his multiplexer through the night to meet him at his place of business in Sacramento, just before the clock struck midnight.
"We had to create a carrier in our computer system," McDonald chuckles, "for Vickie. That's the only way management knew what she had done."
Industry professionals might tell you that the kind of shipping and maintenance record McDonald relates is impossible, not only for the organizational scheme but for the people. How can you get people to respond in such a way? Well, maybe there's something in the water out there. Or maybe it starts at the top.