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My introduction to Allis Chalmers was as the North American Manager for Lancer Boss. Allis Chalmers Lift Truck division marketed Lancer Boss sideloaders. Jumping ship I joined Allis Chalmers in 1974 and became responsible for lift truck sales in Europe Africa Asia & the Pacific. Thought was being given to the possibility of building trucks in Australia and my past working experience in that country as well as Asia may have been a reason AC took me on. In hindsight an early indication of inherent problems was reaction to a report summarizing an initial trip made to Asia . . . that Japan should be a concern . . . Ports like Singapore had proved Japanese trucks met their needs competitively in price and performance. We should be looking at Japan as the major future competitor, perhaps Toyota, rather than argue over was it Clark or Hyster . . . This was ill received and the consensus of the meeting was although Japanese Lift Trucks had achieved some penetration on the West Coast they would not be acceptable to Allis Chalmers users. After a couple of years at Matteson I was transferred to Canada, Guelph Ontario Plant, first as Marketing Manger, then as Acting General Manager with the responsibility of closing out the Lift truck operation then handing the plant over to another Allis Chalmers Division. Canadian labor requirements, not as protective as France, but greater than USA, at least gave employees more time to find employment. After two years and plant closure I returned to Matteson and took over as International Marketing Manager. Returning from a meeting in Milwaukee I remember puzzling why is it that West Allis has this conviction its Allis Chalmers way, it’s the right way. I wished I could be so certain, again in hindsight, it was the attitude that helped to continue sinking the ship. My next assignment was as the French Court registered - Le Liquidator to close out the Dieppe lift truck manufacturing plant, as well as the German and French local marketing companies. At one time the French plant had 600 employees and was descended from a French engine and tractor maker older than Allis Chalmers. It had 130 employees when I took over and being located in a small fishing town on the Normandy Coast alternative employment opportunities were not good. This was an interesting and challenging task but personally most disturbing. It really hurt when I had to make the last long service awards presentation, handing pins too virtually every employee, many who had 20, 25 and some 30 years. The hypocrisy of saying thanks, well done, “out you go,” to people who had joined the company with the tradition that if you did your job well, kept your nose clean, the company would look after you. I was greatly impressed as not once was hostility expressed toward the foreigner from the States, although I know they felt let down and betrayed. Finally I moved over with a handful of others from Matteson to Columbus Ohio when the Lift truck operation was sold. After a couple more changes in ownership I joined those let go in 1989 and retired. I had many interesting assignments and challenge at AC traveled the world on a regular basis. Met many wonderful people, and associates, seemed to change duties about every couple of years. Most exciting projects licence agreements in Korea and Venezuela. AC was a good company to work for but things did go down hill and I am not over happy about the way pension and benefits worked out although they could have been much worse. If this recalls a memory, drop me an e-mail. Fred Owen
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