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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bobby Wesley Bush, Sr., June 19, 2000. Interview I-0086. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Corporate strategy to increase productivity and profits

Bush explains the strategy behind the rapid expansion of the number of plants under Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company in the early 1970s. According to Bush, it was best to have a greater number of small plants that were nearer to customers, rather than have just a few large plants. This strategy increased productivity and profits and it strengthened Hickory Springs's place in the industry.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bobby Wesley Bush, Sr., June 19, 2000. Interview I-0086. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

KATHLEEN KEARNS:
I did want to ask, because obviously there was a big burst of this. '72, there's five in a row. So was there more to the decision?
BOB BUSH:
I realized that we could service our customers better if the plants were small enough to recognize them as customers instead of as numbers. Our main plant, in foam in particular, had gotten too damn big to do that. So by finding these little locations where I could get at least a million dollars a year, which is eighty thousand a month, which doesn't sound very impressive, and keeping the cost down, we could move into the area, take business we didn't have, and supply them very, very well. And therefore drag along our other products that we had to offer. As so as I could find decent people to run the plant and decent people to sell in the territory, I just started to open them up, just one right after another, just as fast as I could find places to do it. And it worked out very well. And we closed a lot of them, don't get me wrong. But you know, the object is to make money, and we made money with most of them.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
OK, so the locations would be chosen because they'd be near customers.
BOB BUSH:
Near customers, or near labor if that's the case. Depends on if you needed it. Most of them were because of their location, because of customers.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Were there locations you wanted and couldn't get during that period? Were there places you thought, "Oh, that would be nice"?
BOB BUSH:
Not really, not really. In fact, I got to where I wouldn't even tell the board of directors what I was thinking about because the damn competition would get there before me.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
Did you have people on the board at that point from other companies?
BOB BUSH:
No.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
So how would it leak out?
BOB BUSH:
If I even mentioned it, it was gone. I'm not accusing anybody at all. I'm just saying my thinking had to be kept private.