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A Failure Of Good Intentions

By Art van Bodegraven | 02/14/2018 | 8:55 AM

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 Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future.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.


To those for whom design "comes naturally",  it is often thought that some people are hard-wired to perform miracles, even without loaves and fishes.  Only a few of us remember the Studebaker automobile.

World-famous designer Raymond Loewy knocked out a dream machine in three weeks, a modern miracle in itself.  The space-age land-locked rocket set the world, and not just in autos, on its ear, and put sickly Studebaker back on the path to financial health.

That was the plan, anyway, the vision of company president Sherwood Egbert.  But, throw in a great design, add poor planning, and gently mix in quality challenges, and you've got -  great design, until the financial types figure out that the scrap heap only pays pennies on the ton.

The company, a legend nearly as great as Notre Dame in hometown South Bend, Indiana, was okay, but set no records in the Ford/Chevy/Plymouth derby.  Loewy, laboring out of Palm Springs, was once again called on to salvage the sick man of the industry - but this time out, needed a knockout punch, the foundation for a "new" Studebaker, and a new standard for the industry.

That was 1961, with production cranking up a year later.

By 1963, the last models left the plant, and what was left went on a joyride to Canada.  The sick man had finally succumbed, and the last several years were spent in a rehab that never happened.

Great design; lousy quality, poor planning.  All this and a price tag that couldn't compete in the market.  There's a message in here for SCM.  Good intentions don't matter.  Lost sales, lost customers - they don't come back.  And, good intentions to go with the other challenges - they don't come back easily, either.



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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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