Crane: Lost but not Forgotten
I am sure that most everybody has heard the European version of ethnic profiling:
The mechanics are German
The chefs are French
The police are British
The lovers are Italian
And everything is organised by the Swiss.
The mechanics are French
The police are German
The chefs are British
The lovers are Swiss
And everything is organised by the Italians.
Most people can still spare a chuckle unless of course you are a Crane dealer. As some of you may remember, the re-branded Crane & Co. has been making fine cotton paper for well over 200 years. Service quality has never been great because they were the Hertz of the industry and didn’t need to try harder to please anyone.
Last year, someone had the bright idea to “build the Crane brand” and hired an “outside consultant” to create efficiency in the Crane operation. While Crane was never anyone’s conception of paradise unless it happened to be a wayward hiker on the Appalachian Trail who had inadvertently stumbled into Dalton (MA), the advisory firm has now turned Crane into a virtual hell-hole for dealers and employees alike.
(Editor’s Note: I have always been suspicious of the benefit of outside consultants, but never more so than the deviousness of the person that hired them in the first place. It was a common joke within the banking industry, that one “always hired an outside consultant to rid the organization of competent managers” who might question the motives of an unscrupulous organization climber. The advisory firm’s recommendations were inevitably the views of the executive who hired the “outside” consultants and he (or she) would then use the consultant’s “findings” to get rid of real or imagined advisories whose views differed from his or her own. Essentially, it is like hiring a mercenary to do your dirty work so you can keep your hands clean and have a clear conscious by blaming the consultant.)
I suspect that someone – could it be ex-McKinsey alum Stephen DeFalco? - orchestrated the palace coup for reasons that are still not readily apparent. In any event, the deterioration in customer service is alarming as Crane begins to integrate the operations of William Arthur, which it acquired last year.
Many dealers now feel that Crane will be unable to process personalized holiday orders this Fall, which for many dealers would be a financial disaster.
From my vantage point – as a Crane dealer – Crane service quality is sinking faster than the Titanic. Should we all break out into chorus and sing “Nearer my God to Thee” or simply wait until the Grinch comes down from Mt. Crumpit to tell us what we can all do with the Crane Engraved Christmas Tree? I wish I had an answer, but sadly all of Crane’s Muppets are currently re-branding.
Crane, you are lost but not forgotten. There still is time to right the sinking ship, but PLEASE don’t hire another consultant. Your loyal dealers deserve better and it is a terrible tragedy to see a company with the traditions of Crane to be so terribly mismanaged. Even Paul Revere might send you a Paperless Post note of concern, but sadly communication between Heaven and Hell is not good.