3M CEO on Plant Closings

This is via Doug Henwood at lbo-talk, posted under the heading “Capitalist Thought.” He says he doesn’t know the origin of it, but that it’s from a reliable source.

In 3M Co.’s quarterly update this month, Chairman and CEO George Buckley talked about how the company had closed 16 plants over the last year and a half, has been drawing down inventory and cutting capital spending.

“Is this healthy?” he said on the call. “All of us acknowledge we’re collectively making the situation worse, but I think the first responsibility we have as leaders of companies is to make sure that we ensure the health and survival of our own companies first, not necessarily other people’s companies, or, for that matter, the whole U.S. economy.”

4 thoughts on “3M CEO on Plant Closings”

  1. So is Buckley being an unpatriotic greedy pig, or is he simply following the basic tenent of Free-Market Capitalism, that each of us should pursue our own self-interest and everyone will be better off because of it?

  2. Good question. Maybe these aren’t incompatible? What’s interesting about the quote is that he admits that what he’s doing is bad for people generally, but good for his company.

  3. It’s the basic tenant of free-market capitalism, in good times the pursuit of record eps, productivity and growth that outpaces the competition and peer companies is characterized as successful…protecting your company in a down market is the same thing, it’s not being an unpatriotic greedy pig. The difference is the environment in which one is operating and this creates different reactions from those impacted by the decisions. In an up market survival results in prosperity while in a down market prosperity IS survival.

  4. It is clear that Buckley is looking out for his company first and foremost. As a Twin City resident with close ties to the 3M community it is obvious that he and the previous CEO have destroyed the 3M culture that valued innovation and replaced it with a culture that values efficiency. The result has been a loss of jobs, which in turn has destroyed employee morale, loyalty,and commitment. On a different level most employees now share a perspective not unlike Buckley’s. Who cares about the company as a whole, I have to save my job.

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