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New Dimensions In Professional Dodgeball

By Art van Bodegraven | 08/13/2017 | 3:21 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.


In the day, when autos were outnumbered by wild-eyed horses, the Dodge brothers set new lows, or new highs, depending on one's level of gentility, in hard-drinking, high-living, in-your-face excellence.

They began as a dynamite tandem of business acumen and near-genius engineering, making legendarily reliable components for Ransom Olds, then for single-minded Henry Ford, becoming minor shareholders in Henry's emerging enterprise.  Ford was wary of taking performance-enhancing suggestions, finally refusing any improvements from the brothers for his game-changing Model T.  The stumbling and combative brothers had other plans, though, for all of their solutions to the T's several shortcomings.

Horace and John, full of hubris and whiskey, announced their entry into full-fledged auto manufacture in 1914, at a frightening booze-fueled dinner that made drunken brawls look like cotillions.  I suppose that named Horace, while parents had apparently favored the other son by naming him John, I might turn to drink and fisticuffs; as for John's motivations, I've no clue.

In three short years, the Dodge had become the #4 auto marque in the country, which was awash in competing small automakers.  But, both brothers soon died, certainly from influenza, whether or not abetted by failing livers.  Their widows, who did not know a wrench from a wench, sold for a middling fortune, and Dodge became part of the emerging BIg Three, a unit of Chrysler.

Over succeeding decades, Dodge suffered the ups (some) and downs (many) - and inglorious embarrassments of Chrysler, culminating in acquisition by a corporation that can't seem to transfer the quality of its wines and leather goods to machines, especially those of some complexity and expectations for roadworthiness.  But, it did escape the executioner' song that accompanied the passing of Plymouth and DeSoto.

The cautionary tale for supply chain professionals is not to partake of strong drink, and insult the neighbors' wives.  But it should be a strong reminder that failing to develop both plans and people to ensure business continuity, lest the accomplishments of a lifetime be swept away by unforeseen events.

Rich widows, after all, become prime candidates for acquisition by those whose motives may not be pure.



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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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