This is a true story of egos and mismanagement. It's kind of long but, there's some lessons in it that have helped me throughout my career. In the early 80's I worked for a national controls company, who'll remain nameless, but their initials look identical to JC. This happened in Wyoming, a large state geographically, but with a total population of less 500,000 people.
The company dealt with the problem of long road miles between towns (it's almost 500 road miles between Cheyenne and Jackson) by having what they called resident mechanics scattered throughought the state. Each resident mechanic (there were 6 or 7) took care of the service contract customers in their area as well as any non-contract service calls.
Our service manager's ego (I'll call him Bill) was much larger than his IQ. He thought very highly of himself mostly because of his position with a national company.
One day our tech (John) who lived in Jackson, was working in Rock Springs when a contract maintenance manager for a large coal fired, electrical power plant saw his truck at a school, hunted John down and said. "I've been trying to contact your company for weeks and nobody has called me back. We're freezing to death. We have 20' long icicles hanging off of our railings above the turbine deck, all of our hot water coils in the airhandlers are frozen and busted, outside air dampers are wired open or closed and the pneumatic controls sytems are toast".
John immediately called the office and set up a meeting between Bill and the maintenance manager. On the day of the meeting, Bill drove the 200 miles to Rock Springs from Casper. His appointment was for 1:00 p.m. Bill was ontime and waited to be called in. At 1:15 Bill was told the maintenance manager was stuck in an emergency meeting with his boss, who had flown in from Portland Oregon.
At 1:45 Bill, tired of waiting and angry for being ignored, walked out. Obviously Pacific Power and Light didnt know they were wasting the time of Bill Smith, a representative of JC himself! The next week, John asked Bill how the meeting with the power plant went. Bill said he got tired of waiting and left. John said "since I'll be back in Rock Springs do you want me to go by the plant and see what they want?" Bill agreed to that...
Fast forward one year later.... we have a permanent crew of 4 pneumatic fitters and 3 electricians at that plant...not only did we replace over 80 chilled and hot water coils, rebuild all of their pneumatic control panels..but we took over almost all the HVAC repair and maintenance duties. In addition to the permanent crew, any mechanics from other areas of the state who found themselves with slack time would be sent their get 10 hours overtime for the travel as well as the plant paying for all meals and motels.
JC was selling them 40 horsepower motors, compressors, pumps
refrigerant ...you name it. The plants in-house instrumentation and millwrights were upset because we were doing it all ...because we could.
John the mechanic was our foreman there. He's the one that made all of this possible. He was a marginal tech skill wise, but a VERY good talker and a genius at getting to know the political workings of the plant. John's work put Bill on JC's map....a nobody in a backwater branch was now on the top 10 salemen's list. This contract was easily bringing in over 1.5 million a year.
The trouble was Bill wasn't smart enough to see or acknowledge that John was the one who put him on the top 10 list. But John was smart enough to know that Bill was getting the huge bonusses and John was getting a stinking 1 dollar more per hour than the crew he pushed. John saw and had to sign and verify every invoice that we submitted.
This contract lasted over 4 years and had no end in sight until the day John asked Bill for a dictionary. Bill's response "What the hell does a pipefitter need a dictionary for?" John replied "Because I can speak well ,doesn't mean I'm a good speller and since I have to write weekly work reports to the plant, I need one to keep us from looking dumb" Request denied.
That was the straw that broke John's back. Bill was too stupid to see that John had created the gold mine. In Bill's mind it was his superior leadership that had put himself on the golden JC top 10 salesmen's list.
John negotiated a "consultants" contract with the power
plant, quit JC and JC was gone within a week. 7-9 guys lost their gravy jobs. John's ego took himself down. He was a good organizer, a good talker, a great politician, but a marginal technician...he didn't have the technical skills. He lasted another year at the plant, tried to use local contract talent...that didn't know pneumatics and he couldn't teach them.
Was a lose ,lose situation for JC, John, The power plant and the JC crew who were there. Bill disappeared fromthe top 10 list ... had he only recognized and rewarded John's talents ...they could have mlked that golden cow indefinitely. Also there can be great worth in a man who's technical skills aren't the best. Who knew a dictionary could be worth millions?