An American Success: The Man Who Did NOT Move the Factories Overseas
Harman International’s founder, and CEO Sidney Harman has proven that you CAN operate a highly successful American-based audio company without moving production facilities to low-wage countries overseas. Net sales were more than $1.4 billion last year for Harman, whose brand names include, Harman Kardon, JBL, and Infinity.
The reason for success, he says, is placing the focus on generating high levels of productivity, which makes the higher wage costs less important. The company invested in extensive worker training programs and began tapping the creativity of the assembly line. Workers were brought in to solve efficiency and cost-cutting challenges… and were given a share of the revenue generated by their own ideas.
Harmon, who has a doctorate in social psychology, also identified job security as crucial to increasing productivity: With so much invested in training, losing any worker would be wasteful. So, when a California plant needed to slow down their output, workers were given roles in maintenance, security, and landscaping the grounds, rather than using their outside contractors. Costs were offset and the work force maintained until the plant geared up again.
It is no wonder that Harman, 79, is regarded as a management pioneer. He has done what others thought could not be done and today sees his company as a “successful social experiment!”