I served under CEO Daniel E. Gill, first as a division vice-president for marketing and finally as a division president, leaving in 1985 when my division was divested ("Blind ambition," Cover Story, Oct. 23). The man had a simple focus: build market share and shareholder wealth. During my tenure, I was never assigned numbers to achieve.
Gill did push people to perform at higher levels than they may have believed possible. He would try to drive managers to their next level of competency, and some failed.
Gill's message was clear: He was paying us to think and rethink the problem and not throw our hands in the air and give up. His message about "don't do anything stupid" was just that--not to damage the name and reputation of the company or mortgage the future.
Those managers that confused Gill's efforts to get them to understand their business with the "pressure to achieve at all cost" probably did not deserve their positions in the first place. I never heard of someone being terminated for not achieving sales and earning targets.
Having lived in the environment, some of the nameless references and comments from former employees look like cheap shots for what they perceive as unfair treatment they may have received. However, if they understood their business in the first place they would still be with the organization.
W. Barry Gilbert
I was the international sales and marketing manager for the Bushnell division of Bausch & Lomb and maintained profit-and-loss responsibility for Precision Instruments Co., a Hong Kong subsidiary. During my tenure with the company in the early-to-mid-1980s, I reported to Harold O. Johnston and worked with Y.H. Chan in Hong Kong [two of the key figures mentioned in the story].
The quarterly emphasis on sales volumes was as your reporter, Mark Maremont, described it. On a charter flight to Panama, where a vice-president and I were evaluating a warehousing-and-distribution facility in Coln, I was told: "You're only as good as your last quarter." At a later meeting in Miami, where we evaluated the facility that was eventually to become Lamex, we had the same conversation with some other managers from Rochester. This philosophy was pervasive and incessant.
William J. Berdux
The strategic, operational, and moral tone for any organization is set by the CEO. In the long run, shareholder value is the direct result of customer value. CEO Gill forgot that the numbers are neither the results of operations nor the purpose of B&L's activities. They are the measurement of the results of those activities. Measurements mean nothing if the underlying determinants such as market position, product quality, and customer value are viewed as secondary. For long-run shareholder value, the board of directors should see that Gill's replacement understands this.
Kenneth W. Gorman
Manhattan Beach, Calif.