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Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #140: In which the author buys a new vehicle, somehow

The so-called "supply chain crisis" wouldn't have bothered Henry Ford very much. His River Rouge plant took in raw materials at one end and delivered finished vehicles at the other. Ford's subsidiary enterprises made glass, dug coal, acquired wood. He was vertically integrated, as the kids say nowadays, and he made his own luck.

You sound like you believe in coincidence.
Pit Crew

New truck? I didn't know they still offered that.

My El Focusarino (some call it "Maverick") order MIGHT get filled as a 2022. Fortunately, I don't actually need it. Due to some long established business relationships and fleet pricing, I'll be into it for $750 under the mythical 'invoice' price and it'll just arrive when it arrives.

I'm not sure what I would do if actually had some urgency to buy a new anything RIGHT NOW. My presumption would be to settle for the first deal that seemed to violate my sense of value the least.

Congratulations on the new whip!

Did I tell you the one about the car maker that let literally thousands of years of institutional learning walk out the door because it didn’t want to pay high hourly independent contractor rates anymore and figured it could do their jobs with college grads (with no back up whatsoever) and now can’t get those same independent contractors to return because they’re too busy laughing their way to better jobs in Europe?
Advanced Driver

Sounds like what happened to a coal mine I used to work at that got bought out by a bunch of losers with MBA's. They decided their main goal in life was to not pay the union men what they were worth. I wonder what all the down time while they trained all the new people cost

The annoying thing is, this is the last vestiges of a proud car building nation’s industry (albeit foreign owned) that has been mismanaged for years. And this happened literally three years ago.

   What I'm about to say is not car-related, but so much more of this thread isn't either, so here goes.  I used to manage a facility that sourced, procured, warehoused and distributed essential operational items to a nationwide company (well, actually, I ran three facilities, strategically located to service the broad geographic base of our operations).  We included small production capabilities to produce some of the more critical items, so we had more control over availability and delivery.  We secured primary and back-up suppliers and maintained north of a 98.5% service level for the years that I was there (I had worked my way up from an apprentice position in the production area of the initial shop, and over time had created the systems, plus acquired and opened two of the facilities as the corporation grew to need them).

   Leadership of the company changed us to JIT requirements to cut inventory costs.  We worked with the suppliers (even had to change a few) to adapt to that.  Then upper management decided that outsourcing the entire deal was cheaper still, and tasked me with closing the three centers, laying off all the employees, and creating a system for sourcing and procuring all of the products we had done in-house.  Of course, overhead, inventory and insurance costs went down - but per unit costs of all of the products skyrocketed.  Outsourcing costs have a much different taxing and book-value than internal operations and inventory, so things looked okay on paper.  But.  Service levels plummeted like bowling balls dropped off buildings, and the confusion factor for our stores zoomed - they'd had ONE supplier (us) to work with for decades, and now they had to deal with many dozens of them.  The suppliers were overwhelmed - they'd had ONE customer (us) to work with for decades, and now they had thousands of them.  Negotiating and maintaining all of the contracts with the suppliers was the job of my small team.

   Then, the big guys in the corner offices decided to outsource even my team's responsibilities.  I was given a retirement package and my team was disbursed (basically phased out, and none of them are still there).  Service, product quality, and costs were now completely out of the hands of anyone within the company - left totally to someone else.

   I've now been gone for 10 years.  New ownership took over about 5 years ago, and things were so messy that they called me and asked if I'd like to come back and rebuild the internal systems and operations I'd once built 36 years prior.  As tempting as the challenge and promise of a reward was, I told them they should call the guy I'd been grooming as my replacement and give him a shot.  He told them "no thanks".  We'd both been down that road and knew it didn't lead to Nirvana.

   I shudder to think how the fiasco they created by wiping out my entire career's work is now affecting the stores and the expense line.  But even worse, I wonder if those stores can even get what they need right now (at any cost), as the suppliers and distribution systems required are closing down at an alarming rate.

   Be careful what you call progress, Mr. and Ms. CEOs of the world!


Very well said. Thank you for sharing a story that is based on expertise and reality.
Intermediate Driver

After waiting months for any of several dealers to find a Hyundai Santa Cruz AWD Turbo in any of three colors, one finally appeared for "only" a $5,000 "market adjustment". End of desire for the trucklet. A perusal of the local Mazda dealer's web site showed a Carbon Edition CX-5 Turbo AWD. Turned out it was still on the boat, arriving in 2 weeks. We agreed on a price, a couple thousand BELOW MSRP, and left a deposit. The car arrived right on schedule, couldn't be happier. There is always an option.
BTW, I bought a 25,000 mile MX-5 four years ago from Carvana. The price was fair, the car is great, and the buying experience was fantastic. Don't know about the current situation though.

I effing HATE Agile development. It seriously has me debating whether or not to leave the software development industry. Sure, at that point, I’d need to trade my X5 in for an XG350 (as in, the old Hyundai), but it might just be worth it.

Beyond that, yes, it would be interesting to see what it would look like if automakers started recentralizing their resources and suppliers. But it’s not likely to happen. For one thing, everything is going EV, and those raw materials don’t come from the US. They come from other countries with—incidentally—horrible human-rights records. But mostly, it’s down to money. Decentralizing worked up until now, and kept operating expenses lower, especially if an automaker relied upon JIT manufacturing rather than having to pay and store, say, a warehouse full of pricey computer modules.

Advanced Driver

Wow, all these commenters me-too-ing about the Big Bad Supply Chain. I hope you all realize it was invented by an American in the 1950's, perfected by the Japanese in the 1960's, and had been doing a perfectly fine job of supplying the world with stuff for the following 60 years? Until the, you know, C thing happened and started the pendulum swinging wildly. I guess you can fault the people who sustained if for those 60 years, but I can't agree with calling the whole thing some kind of huge mistake.

What we had was a unique event, that nobody has ever experienced, an event so large and impactful that it dwarfed normal emergency preparedness plans. Ran over them like a tsunami. And it is still wreaking havoc. What we *need* is Henry Ford types who have whatever gift it is that allows them to look straight through all of it and find a way past. I'm not that person for sure! But I do try to keep an ear to the ground.

"What we had was a unique event, that nobody has ever experienced, an event so large and impactful that it dwarfed normal emergency preparedness plans."

I think that's something you've been sold.

When all the data is shaken out, and the attention of the world has been fully diverted elsewhere, then I suspect we will see that COVID-19 killed one in a thousand people. At the MOST. The rest of it is window dressing and the old "never let a crisis go to waste".

My grandmother is listed as a COVID death, for perspective. She was ninety-six and had broken her hip.

You may have surpassed even yourself this time. Nobody else could expand an experience to a treatise as you have done, complete with two references to Douglas Adams (and provoked the usual numerous responses). But "immanentized the eschaton" may be a tad too much, especially if being used ironically. Have you copyrighted "midwit"?

"Midwit" belongs to Vox Day, aka Ted Beale, a science-fiction writer.
Pit Crew

Maybe I missed your reasoning (I went back and reread the article); if you just needed a basic truck to haul the race car around until the new Ford arrives, why not get a used beater off Craigslist instead of this costly and soul-sapping journey to buy new? A little ironic because Hagerty made a name for itself insuring used cars.

Have you priced "used beater" trucks on Craigslist lately? You're looking at twenty grand for anything that can pull a car with reasonable certainty. And anything you buy will have serious deferred maintenance and/or problems that won't show in casual use but will become immediately apparent the next time you try to pull 8,000 pounds up a hill in West Virginia.

Hagerty made its name insuring used cars that don't need to run, like my 1986 Grand Marquis or my 1995 Porsche 911. This is different. This is how I get my used cars (and race cars) from one place to another. I don't have any room in my garage for trucks that *might* make it to the track. Just one breakdown on a two-lane road with a truck towing a car hauler will make a very paranoid person out of you, trust me.

Now, if I had a time machine I'd go back and use this same forty-six grand to buy a loaded 5.7-liter Ram Laramie brand-new 🙂
Intermediate Driver And for several years in the early-90's I had G.S.Y.H.I.A.P. in large friendly letters across the top of my 85 CRX's plastic spoiler running in SOLO II CSP class. Also I just paid $2k over 2020 sticker for a sweet Corolla hatch at Carmax that books at $4k (!) over sticker. I, too, feel lucky. But what do I know? I'm just this guy, you know?

30 years ago a high school teacher taught us about zaibatsu (Japanese conglomerate vertical integration) and a detail stuck out to me:

"Each arm, branch, company is operated for profit and sells at market value to the related companies"

Was this true I don't know, but it sounded smart. Secure sources all the way up the chain but no false savings baked in.

"Just in time" has always sounded short-sighted to me, but hey I am not a business major.
Pit Crew

Love the coining of and definition of "midwit". As an engineer (infrastructure and heavy industrial) it hits home, and we've been fighting it for years. Not only does it stifle creativity, but it makes adapting on the fly nearly impossible. I've heard the same from friends in other engineering disciplines and careers, everything from automotive to healthcare. Beancounters, industrial engineer efficiency "experts", and MBA's with no life experiences are the bane of a vital and visionary market. While they by necessity have a place (hey, you've got to be profitable to be viable), they've enjoyed an outsize influence for too long. I worked construction, warehouse, and on a farm to put myself through college, which has provided a practical foundation for my designs and concepts. Too often these "midwit" experts are completely lacking in any practical life knowledge and regard everything as the same "building widgets" exercise. Our innovation and advances have suffered correspondingly, with the space program a shining example. Enjoyed the writing as always, congrats on the new Ford to come (have faith), and good luck racing this season.
Advanced Driver

There seemed to be some new cars available during the height of the pandemic but not now.
Seems strange to me.
The Toyota and Subaru dealers have cars, but not the Lincoln store I drive past.
I get calls from two Ford dealers telling meats are inbound.
Tesla says they will build a million cars this year.

BTW: How long does it take to build a chip factory?

We finally decided to replace my wife's 2011 Volvo with 110k.
Bad time to start shopping.
The Lexus dealer had us leave a $1000 deposit with the line, "We'll call you when we get one. Then it's take it or leave it".
So no choice of color or options on a $50,000 car. Bummer.

We have cash, I may just take it, in crisp unmarked bills, to a Ford or Toyota store and get a Escape or RAV4.
The heck with what Car and Driver thinks.