A Shocking and Shameful Lack of Imagination

Help me out here. I'm baffled.

Is corporate America really unable -- or unwilling -- to even try to do better for the country?

On Dec. 14, Lincoln Electric (NASDAQ: LECO  ) , the Cleveland-based manufacturer of welding technologies and No. 1 in the world since the 1930s, announced the 2012 bonus for its roughly 3,000 American employees.

Read the following five lines slowly.

  1. The bonus has been paid for 79 uninterrupted years in a row.
  2. This year, Lincoln Electric shared $99.3 million of pre-tax profits with employees.
  3. The average 2012 bonus was $33,915 per worker.
  4. The average employee earned $82,300 (including the bonus).
  5. No one was laid off in 2012.

Do you find that impressive? How about this?

In 2011, the picture was essentially the same. Ditto for 2010, 2009, 2008... 1997... 1979... 1956... 1948...

The actual numbers were different, obviously. When the economy did well, the bonus and total earnings tended to rise; in tough times, they shrank. But two things haven't changed since the 1940s.

First, Lincoln Electric has remained the world leader in its field: profitable, innovative, and steadily expanding across the globe (now 46 factories in 20 countries).

Second, due to the firm's corporate policy of guaranteed employment, no American worker has been laid off since at least 1948.

Surely, if you're running a company in America and you have a functioning brain, you're now asking yourself (at least) two questions: How do they do that? and Can I learn something from Lincoln Electric?

Apparently, no!

Since February 2010, Lincoln Electric and its CEO/Chairman John Stropki have been profiled in many major American electronic, Web, and print media outlets: ABC TV's World News Tonight, The Wall Street Journal, PBS NewsHour, Fox TV, NPR, Fool.com, Harvard Business Review, MSNBC, and more.

Despite that exposure, Stropki told me a few days ago, no one at his elite level of American business (or lower, for that matter) has asked him a single question about Lincoln Electric's phenomenal track record.

No one.

(I picked February 2010 because that's when Spark, the book I wrote about no-layoff policies and Lincoln Electric, was published. I had complete editorial freedom to tell the story and never took a dime from the company.)

Why haven't CEOs besieged Stropki by phone or dropped by his Cleveland office? His matter-of-fact answer is that running a company with a no-layoff policy is hard and big firms would have a hard time changing their operating stripes. (So... they don't want to make money decade after decade?)

Maybe Lincoln Electric is such a unique company on Planet Earth that despite all the wisdom embodied in America's hundreds of thousands of MBAs, there is nothing to learn from its management system?

Maybe a near-century as No. 1 in welding worldwide is an accounting trick?

Maybe there's a dark underbelly to life inside Lincoln Electric? (Hard work is the norm, that's true.)

Maybe it's the water in Cleveland?

But after asking a dozen more maybe questions, you'll find yourself coming to the conclusion I did: Corporate America is suffering from a near-criminal lack of imagination.

Lincoln Electric presents convincing and reassuring evidence that it is possible to run a very profitable, very large multinational business in North America by respecting your customers, employees, investors, and society at large. All of them.

It need not be a zero-sum game, the delusion embraced by too many of the nation's business leaders, especially in recent years.

They owe it to America to do better.

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  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 11:58 AM, DrDeVito wrote:

    Awesome Article. I can't beleive I've never even heard of these guys. Pretty sickening how they get ignored by all the news outlets.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 4:35 PM, mdk0611 wrote:

    Their system, even with the no layoff policy, would never be accepted by any unionized shop. If a CEO has a union shop there's no point in asking questions.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 4:46 PM, AmcnFndrs wrote:

    Completely agree with you there - it's sad to watch at increasing speed as corporate america sells us out in partnership with the many consulting firms that are helping expedite cheap and unsustainable gains, expensive over the long term. Corporate America has become easily sedated by the fast returns of cashing in bodies through lay-offs or off-shoring at the expense of innovation, quality, service, and investing in the founding nation. Why, it's easy, doesn't require a lot of thought, and pays well - Fast! Even revered improvementinnovation programs and methods have sold out in an effort to achieve fast gains and prove themeselves by the speed at which they can find bodies to eliminate or off-shore. The faster the better with finance departments salivating along with their red pens.

    It's all about speed to greed, and selling out our nation right from under our feet. I can only hope we have learned something from these last five years and take the time to regroup, do the hard work and let LE become a model we can live by.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 4:54 PM, smartmuffin wrote:

    So... because this one company pays its employees a lot of money, every other company is "shameful"? The entire corporate culture is under indictment because some companies laid people off?

    Give me a break. You didn't do anything in this article to explain how this company is doing "better for the country" for anyone other than its employees. You mention that they "respect their customers, investors, and society at large" while providing no examples whatsoever.

    To a large extent, these are competing interests. A company that is so generous to its employees could likely potentially be paying them less, and giving their investors more money back in terms of dividends. If this company is so great to its shareholders, why don't you have a position? A lot of unanswered questions in this needlessly hostile puff piece...

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 5:45 PM, gskinner75006 wrote:

    I think most of corporate America is spending most of their waking time worrying about their share value for the traders and have forgotten what a company is really there to do.

    If you run a company with the values of a Lincoln Electric, the rest will take care of its self.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 6:08 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    It's definitely the drinking water in Cleveland.

    Sincerely,

    A Steelers fan

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 8:41 PM, Costanzawallet wrote:

    Many companies would consider that redistribution of wealth, not realizing that the workers are the ones creating that wealth. they just do not see that everyone can win. When everyone is happy and makes money, people tend to make even more money.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 9:28 PM, zymok wrote:

    Maybe Stropki has achieved management enlightenment and every other CEO is too stupid or lazy to follow suit. Or maybe the company has an insurmountable lead in intellectual property. Or maybe the company's success is a fluke. Or the large bonuses hide substandard base wages. Or the average salary and bonus statistics are skewed by compensation to high earners. Or the company finds ways to terminate employees for cause instead of laying them off. Or the company reduces work hours across the entire work force instead of having layoffs.

    There are so many ways to game the employment and compensation stats it's not even funny.

    On the other hand, you've caught my attention. I'll read your book in the near future for more in-depth info. If I like the analysis, I'll even buy a copy :)

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2012, at 10:42 PM, TMFJCar wrote:

    Frank,

    Great article. At times I feel actual companies are getting a "free pass" from the media on this issue because they are concerned with governmental policies. It is interesting in this "jobs crisis" environment, that the media is not focusing on companies that are hiring and compensating their employees accordingly.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 2:32 AM, hotpepperaddict wrote:

    Regardless whether Lincoln Electric is the golden child or not, corporate america is spitting on America. Most CEO's don't seem to care how well their company is run as long as thy get their multi million dollar bonus (which most seem to do even when they run their company in to the ground). And we have been footing the bill. Not only in the form of obscene paychecks for upper level management, but also in the form of all this hideous CRAP they keep pushing down our throats called "products from overseas". Can we please get back to quality?

    And, I am not sure "shareholders" is a relevant term anymore. All this cheapening of the products made available for purchase is done in the interest of a healthy bottom line which is what is demanded by shareholders. I believe it was here on TMF that I read the average time someone holds a stock is something like 7 months. "Sharetraders" have no loyalty to a company anymore, so why should companies have any loyalty back to us?

    I believe the new corporate mantra might sound something like " How CHEAP and FLIMSY can we make this and still get away with it?" And the new sharetrader mantra sounds like a child throwing a tantrum when their instant satisfaction meter isn't maxed to the max every second of the day.

    I will certainly be looking into Lincoln Electric a bit further after this article. If they are even 1/4 of the company this article makes them out to be, that will still be leaps and bounds beyond most other publicly traded companies.

    Thanks for my few moments on the soapbox...

    Mark

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 2:43 AM, OceanJackson wrote:

    Imagination is more important than knowledge.

    - Albert Einstein

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 3:56 AM, Stonewashed wrote:

    This appears to be a very respectable company, but one wonders, if their affiliates have the same policies (and there are a lot of them) http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/company/Pages/company-h...

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 4:56 AM, Stonewashed wrote:

    There was an article back in Oct at TMF in regard to this company's cash flow and whether or not it can be trusted. One way to do that, as that article pointed out, is to stiff suppliers or vendors who they are using as a bank. In these interesting times, it is actually the vendors who are acting as banks, I know only all too well, which is nothing new, but now the bigger they are, the more they and their shareholders feel emboldened to scew anyone that effects their imaginary bottom line and stock price. I notice a lot of acquitstions having taken place worldwide in places where wages are not all that good and human trafficking and forced labor, not all that uncommon. Tread carefully. What is touted as angelic behavior may just be a veneer. If their sales is effected due to a global recession, highly likely, they may be overvalued.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 1:14 PM, damilkman wrote:

    I really wished the author would have spent a few paragraphs describing the processes in place that make the so much more succesful. I suppose I can do my own research. But the author had an opportunity to give his spin. If the intent is just to bring visibility to LECO, I suppose the author is succesful. But I wish he had expanded on his opinion on what they are doing right.

    Regarding are CEO's and corporate teams overpayed you could not pay me enough money to enter that hell. We seem to be perfectly content when movie stars, sports stars and other entertainers get tens of millions for their services. But a CEO is carpet bagger. Those people's lives are not as fun as you think. They have to constantly travel to meet employees, customers, and peers all over the world. They get woken up at all hours of the day and night. If it is 9am in Frankfurt and one of your top five customers is pissed and wants to vent, he does not care if you are in LA. I have no clue how they get meaningful sleep. You move me six time zones over and I am toast for the next two days. And they have to do it over and over.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 1:30 PM, rstruyk wrote:

    True, there are many ways to skew the employment/wage stats. For starters, I am curious to know the median bonus as opposed to the average. Beyond that curiosity, I like what this article is trying to do. This writer has done a good job of exploiting truly bad employers (Walmart) by showing how good employers (LE) treat their workers. I would say this to readers; instead of finding the devil in the details, think of the big picture. I'm sure LE isn't Santa Claus by any means but it is a step in the right direction.

    Companies are created to make money, not as charity. However, many companies forget that their workers aren't servants either.

  • Report this Comment On December 28, 2012, at 2:55 PM, Dunmore56 wrote:

    Agreeing with some of the above comments, Lincoln Electric is a unique company and probably could never be duplicated anywhere else.

    Unions would despise the set up, many employers would simply refuse to let employees participate like they do at Lincoln.

    I think the founder, James F. Lincoln has a book, "Incentive Management" published in 1951.

    "The actual is limited, the possible is immense"

    Only in Cleveland, Ohio do these things happen

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 11:17 AM, GaryReber wrote:

    This is a perfect reason why it is imperative that we create an OWNERSHIP CLTURE whereby Americans understand and appreciate the benefits of owing productive capital assets and sharing in the earnings of capital.

    Please see my article "Democratic Capitalism And Binary Economics: Solutions For A Troubled Nation and Economy" at http://foreconomicjustice.org/11/economic-justice/

    Also please see my article "The Absent Conversation: Who Should Own America?" published by The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-reber/who-should-own-amer...

    Support the Capital Homestead Act at http://www.cesj.org/homestead/index.htm and http://www.cesj.org/homestead/summary-cha.htm

    Sign the Petition at http://signon.org/sign/reform-the-federal-reserve.fb23?sourc...

    Sign the WhiteHouse.gov petition at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/reform-federal-res...

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 12:13 PM, skigolfkayak wrote:

    it appears that Lincoln is a "lean Enterprise" that thrives through the concept of the customer, employee, and company prosper through providing the correct and ever improving product for the customer.

    this is not a harmonious process for unionized companies who regard the company an custosmer as disposable for the unions that are lead by "progrssives or communists" with the sole purpose of a universal society and bringing every one down to the lowest common denominator.

    skigolfandkayak

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 12:41 PM, caygey wrote:

    The CEOs of most companies prefer to take huge bonus checks for them selves even if they lose money. They also prefer to move operations to other countrieso that pay starvation wages. That's why we have unions in the first place. The workers at Lincoln Electric do not need a union. Theywould be crazy to even consider a union. Unions were started beause of the greedy corporate bosses who do not want to even about Lincoln Electric.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 12:54 PM, BigDaveBad wrote:

    The Lincoln Arc welding foundation used to publish lots of books for engineers, designers and detailers showing them how to use welded designs effectively. These were sold for only a little more than the cost of postage. I assume that they still publish them. On their list of publications was one called "The American Century of James F. Lincoln" or some such title. The listing said that it described Mr. Lincoln's theory of intelligent management. I googled "American Century" and lincoln and welding just now and found two of these books for sale for the princely sum of five dollars each. I did not check to see if that included shipment. By keeping salaries a little lower than their competitors they could survive tough times. By giving large annual bonuses they rewarded their employees when business was good. Because the bonuses were sometimes larger than the annual salary everyone worked much harder than they otherwise would. Nobody wastes time like occurs in many other companies, or government organizations. Turnover is almost zero and this saves a lot of training expense.

    This salary plus bonus system is, in Mr. Lincoln's opinion, far superior to any other system. I have to agree.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 12:55 PM, jm7700229 wrote:

    A good article and thought provoking. However, I would point out that attributing all of their success to a no-layoff policy is rather like saying that "it rained on Monday, so rain must cause Mondays." As an earlier poster stated, it would be impossible for a unionized company to create this kind of environment today, as it would be nearly impossible to create this company today without it getting unionized.

    I'm glad they share their success with employees, but I have used Lincoln's products for decades, and I believe that innovation, technological leadership and sound management have more to do with Lincoln's success than bonuses.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 1:02 PM, DavesHere wrote:

    I'll bet they have a "no whining" rule. That, in itself, would be enough to repel the "Everybody hates me; I only got a 7 million dollar bonus this year" management herd.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 1:10 PM, gkirkmf wrote:

    I see no mention of Hewlett Packard. HP was founded in 1936, and for as long as Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard owned and operated the company, it shared profits twice a year with employees, and implemented a no layoff policy by cutting all workers back to 4 days a week, INCLUDING themselves and every other manager in the company during hard times. Employee training and education was tops on the list. The company had a laboratory in each division, and one at headquarters, and used the inventions of these labs to grow the company. When they died, the company died too due to the greed of its new CEOs. 99.9% of today's corporations look at employees as nothing more than a resource, just like coal and gasoline (hence the change from Personnel Department to the much more cold Human Resources Department).

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 2:52 PM, jcarter2 wrote:

    There are a few companies that manage this. NPR did a story several years ago about an electric utility company, i think in the midwest, that managed to make a no layoff policy work well for everyone. I wish i could remember the company's name.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 4:00 PM, CdnNavSup wrote:

    I should note that there seems to be a lot of interest in this firm.

    While it is hardly a perfect source Wikipedia states...

    "Lincoln Electric's business model was listed as one of the most studied by the Harvard Business School and has been featured in many case studies by other business schools around the world. Since 1975, eight cases have been written about Lincoln Electric by the Harvard Business School alone."... fm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Electric

    Thus there appears to be a lot of interest in the business community.

    CdnNavSup

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 4:01 PM, thorw wrote:

    @skigolfkayak I wouldn't lump all unions into that category. Surely the unions that sprang from Britain and its laws do. When governments back corporations and legislation allows and promotes an adversarial relationship, then you get militant unions and stone-walled corps. It wasn't that long ago that big business used the security companies that exist today to kill off union organizers. The militant unions care little for their members, based on grandfathering clauses and when they do go on strike, the union leaders get paid nicely but the workers don't (lack of incentive and terms there).

    Compare that to say the textile union in Germany that could go on strike for years and pay their members full wages, that's a strong and powerful union. Legislation allows for better financial audits of corporate books by the unions, who have professionals (CMA, etc.) that can determine if the companies stance of lack of ability to give raises is reasonable (are they saving up to invest in new machinery, etc.). It helps build some trust and has even allowed wage reductions based on that trust. The unions there, handle enhanced healthcare and the pensions as well, keeping those out of gov't hands as well as corporate. In North America, Quebec has somewhat similar legislation and the pensions funds managed by their unions are well run and immune from corporate and government failures.

    The old saying goes, a good employer makes for weak union is a true one.

    I'm not sure either model is fully correct yet, but something in between might be worthwhile. A co-op based approach, staffed not completely by rank & file but includes accounting & business professionals that can offer pension and enhanced health care outside of gov't or corporate machinations might do better. I'm not sure if opening the books better would help too much with no GAAP accounting being used so often to help inflate CEO bonuses, which can bare little resemblance to the actual health of the company.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 5:29 PM, hostile12 wrote:

    Wow as a union electrian in the north east that last quote was on of the best I have heard in a while.....

    " A good employer makes for a week union." If any one has any experience with unions and powerful greedy companies you would compleatly agree.. I wish Wall Mart would let a union in just to one state to show how a union would be silly cause every one is so happy working for Wall Mart .. That union would just faid away cause it wouldn't be used or needed.. ya ok Wall Mart is absolutely the worst offender of workers rights and just common decen

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 5:29 PM, manleymike wrote:

    This is the kind of company I am putting in my portfolio. Surely we cannot indict all the other companies, but if this isn't a sterling example of what companies ought to be doing, I can't think of what is. The current attack on unions would be moot at best. There wouldn't be much of a need for them. And those companies, not treating workers with the respect they deserve, would get the the level of the workers they deserve. Way to go Emerson Electric. Indeed their are others who also are employee friendly. Some have been featured on the very website.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 5:56 PM, b4feder wrote:

    Smartmuffin is absolutely right. The company is wasting its money by spending it on its employees, who can easily leave if they're unhappy, or work less hard. After all it just their livelihoods, unlike the investors for whom smartmuffin is concerned. We know that investors are remarkably faithful and they wouldn't dream of leaving if they thought the company was wasting its money on its workers. We can't take the food off the table for the investors. Actually, the company could spend money lobbying or contributing to political campaigns as some companies have been rumored to do, instead of wasting it on the workers.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 6:39 PM, mikew12345 wrote:

    Unfortunately the numbers provided don't tell us anything. When all you give is averages, we have no idea how that money was distributed. Numbers like this also apply to the company I work for. However, the top managers got bonuses in the millions, while the rest of us got a whopping $200 bonus this year, with plenty of emails from the brass thanking us for all our hard work this year. The company president makes more in a week than I do in 5 years (I'm not kidding). But the averages for my company look similar to what's given in this article. The "average" bonus in my company looks terrific, but that doesn't tell you anything about how the company pays its workers.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 9:50 PM, suman1938 wrote:

    An enlightening article. I wish it gets more attention from the current CEOs. I do not know, but it is quite

    possible that Lincoln Electric does not put shareholders at the top of the list of people who

    should benefit from the company's profits in the order

    of Shareholders/Management, Customers, Employees. It is too tempting for successful companies to go in for increased capital, whether

    required or not, so as to benefit the management, who are primary shareholders. Once you accept the kiss of devil, you are done for good.

  • Report this Comment On December 29, 2012, at 11:20 PM, daodell33 wrote:

    Yep. Agree. But it may also be that large corporations yield to a Wall Street that want quarterly profits, not long term success in many cases.

    The work environment is probably quite tough at LE. . .but it's because of the tremendous peer pressure to perform and care about the quality and quantity of output . . .that said workers probably take ownership and accountability for their work to a different level . . . And love doing it.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2012, at 12:02 AM, snapperreef wrote:

    I first used a Lincoln welder in a farm shop in the 1960's. Back then I thought stock was what you fed hay to in the winter. I wish I had bought some LECO when I saw what a good product they made.

    I don't think it is too late though. Get out the old pencil and do some DD.

    thanks for a very informative article.

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2012, at 12:04 AM, porchguy wrote:

    Lincoln Electric is and always has been a sweat shop, only it is a good one.

    They work in teams of four and if someone is not holding there end they are fired by the team leader. At least that was the way it was about 10 years ago.

    It is very hard to get to work there because of the small amount of turnover. Everyone busts their butt because they want that big bonus at the end of the year. Can you blame them?

    As for a union, who would need one when you as an unskilled worker are making that kind of money.

    Before they assign you to a team, you are trained like no training you have ever gotten.

    My friends son worked there. It took him 2 years to get in. Then he went to night school and got his tool and die journeyman's card, quit Lincoln and is working for a lot less as a tool and die maker. He says he don't mind because he don't miss the intensive work habits.

    Hey for that kind of money I'll sweat for anyone!!!

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2012, at 12:30 AM, xetn wrote:

    GaryReber:

    What a lot of socialistic BS. What makes you think you have a right to capital, when you made no contribution? The capitalist that invested in LAND, LABOR, and other capital goods, did so at the risk of losing every thing they invested, if their forecasts were wrong. Capital goods are only created by people saving and investing their money in hopes of obtaining a return at some future date. (This constitutes a loan of their money to a bank or other investment and only if there is positive return on their investment.) Entrepreneurs borrow those funds and invest in productive processes that they believe will ultimately satisfy some consumer want.

    You somehow believe you have right superior to the private property right of the entrepreneur's right. You are mistaken. You have no concept of private property rights or any other rights. What if I decided that I have a right to walk into your house and take it over? Would that be ok with you? What if I met you on the street somewhere and stuck a gun in your face and demanded your money or your life? Would that be ok with you?

    I am guessing you would object to such actions of taking your private property. What is the difference between what you advocate and the theft of your private property? NONE!

  • Report this Comment On December 30, 2012, at 4:10 PM, Tonyhard wrote:

    Most of are corparete leaders feel they need to take home all the profits instead of looking for long term imployee .

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2012, at 9:41 AM, drilldeeper wrote:

    The CEO has reportedly sold 3+million shares in December. What does that mean to you?

  • Report this Comment On December 31, 2012, at 1:40 PM, ruffio88 wrote:

    @drilldeeper -- he's retiring, and probably preparing for a long, expensive vacation after 8 years of being CEO and 40 total years with the company (not including the summer work on the factory floor before being hired full-time). I'd say he's earned the right to sell some stock and enjoy it.

  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2013, at 4:35 PM, JackMack22 wrote:

    The reason other CEOs don't want to hear about LECO's 'share the wealth' policy is simple, it's GREED. Most corporations compensation plans are sturctured to concentrate wealth at the top. The executive teams are disproportiuonately rewarded for success (and not penalized for failure). IBM is a good example of a corporation that moved AWAY from a share the wealth and full employment policy to one that overly compensates Directors and above with bonuses stock options, and pay. The IBM culture (circa pre-1990) that most resembled LECO's was established by the founder Tom Watson and his son, Tom Watson Jr. It embraced full employment and more generous employee pay policies, but unfortuantely was killed by the mismanagement and greed of the IBM executive management teams of the 1980s. Tom Watson, Jr. laments this culture shift in his auto biography "Father Son and Co., My Life at IBM and Beyond." In the book, when he was at the end of his career, he admits his greatest regret was his failure to convince the Board and Executive management team to share his vision that IBM's future success was dependent on it's people. Watson believed implementing a profit sharing plan would leverage the abilities of each and every employee by giving them a stake in the success of IBM; instead of incenting a small number of priviledged executive managers.. Important innovations can come from all level in the business, Watson felt profit sharing would focus and channel the intellectual property generated by all IBM's employees toward IBM's competitive success in the marketplace. Mr. Watson was onto something but sadly, those getting rich didn't want to hear about sharing the wealth. The managment teams that almost bankrupted the company and those following under Gerstner and Palmisano are only too glad to keep the money at the top.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2013, at 12:05 PM, smacunalum wrote:

    About 20 years ago, a contingency from the company I worked for went to Lincoln Electric to learn how they did things. What I learned from my fellow employees was that individuals in all stations of work at the company were invested in the success of the company. All were focused on efficiency and positive outcomes. A great portion of their pay came from profits, not the imaginary big bowl of big corporate coffers. Problems were solved at the "lowest" levels in the company by people not even trusted at other companies.

    The attitudes of "higher" level workers were not us and them it was more of you and me.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2013, at 2:12 AM, smcauliffe wrote:

    Interesting how naysayers are so quick to question the validity of your assertions due to the lack of in-depth details, but without providing any specifics themselves. I suspect that you have done your homework, but they have not. Having been an employee of many corporations for over 20 years, I was subjected to the seemingly universal practice of squeezing every drop of blood, sweat and tears from employees, without giving back any discernible support. It was always higher and higher expectations with fewer and fewer resources. Ultimately, I could not sustain that level of spirit-crushing workload and when I was "re-organized" out of my last position, I made a choice to go into business for myself. If I am to have no life and work myself to death, I will no longer do it for the benefit of a soulless company. I'm sure Lincoln Electric is not perfect, but if any of my former employers had had even 20% of the care LE evidently shows their employees, I'd probably still be there. If LE's investors, employees or customers were not all equally happy with the company's performance on their behalf, I'm sure LE would not have anywhere near the level of success it does.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2013, at 10:05 PM, becauseby wrote:

    Sounds like you stepped on a few toes with that one.

    I have a Linclon Welder in my garage. I bought it about 15 years ago, one of the basic arc welders for general welding around the property. They still sell this same welder today. When I learned to weld in metal shop in high school, I learned to weld on this same type of welder, in the 1960s.

    The price for the welder I bought 15 years ago was about the same as the others, within about 5 to 10 percent. The welder is indestructable unless abused or naturally destroyed.

    Stability is one of their secrets I would guess, and solid products.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2013, at 12:25 PM, FoolsWeR wrote:

    Wow! this is fantastic. I have the belief that lack of imagination is pervasive in many ways in our culture (and all others), like in public schools, and discipline policies. Most of todays school learning theories and discipline (punishment) policies lead to most of todays companies! I also believe Motley Fool has been newly creative in many ways. Google has been creative in many ways as well- like mandatory time to play which helps foster creative product solutions. Cheers. Here's to a more creative year.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2013, at 2:57 PM, Citellus wrote:

    Capitalists provide the funds. It is a rare capitalist that has made the product. Workers make the products. It is a rare worker that provides the funds.

    It's a partnership, folks. It can work when one partner does not try to take advantage of the other. It can work even better when both partners are competent and trust and respect each other.

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