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Who’s to blame for the loss of Agilent, Itronix? Here’s one view

A few weeks back we ran a story on the impact felt locally when Agilent Technologies and General Dynamics Itronix closed down their Spokane plants. 

Thanks to those who offered some helpful comments there on the site.

For the sake of discussion, I'll drop in two comments. The first (from "Obewan")  is a bit lengthy:

Both companies' upper management made those decisions based on their own internal information as to what was best for their business. Yes, a poor economy and the latest recession played a very big part, but only because these local branches were not in a position to pull their weight when times got tough. .. In Agilent’s case, the progressive decisions to leave Spokane were driven by the consequences of poor management moves in the preceding years: millions of R&D funding were spent developing the wrong product at the wrong time, making it unviable in the marketplace....

   As for Itronix, its upper management did not understand what General Dynamics wanted of it when they bought it, and/or did not communicate those directives to the next level of management and product design. GD over-reacted by scraping out a good vehicle that just needed some tune ups and new tires, but that was their choice. If Itronix had been making the money that GD expected, you can be assured GD would have not disturbed the production of golden eggs. In both cases, local management let their Spokane workforce down and the employees suffered the consequences.

PHOTO credit: (I don't know who shot it. But ex-Agilent guy Tim Plass forwarded it to the SR.)

READ the next comment on the continuation of this post, below: 

Reader "TPlass" had to agree with "Obewan":

That’s right, these events are not from the manipulation of the WTO or a Wall Street “terror campaign.” When the recession hit, the Spokane divisions of these companies did not have the products to make in rough times. 

Take a look at this video from a news story about Insitu, the company I went to work for after beign laid off from Agilent and then Itronix. Insitu grew from about 25 employees in 2004 to over 725 by the time I left in June 2010 … and this was during a recession near Portland where unemployment was well over 10%.

Insitu has the innovative products and has shown that a small company can make it just fine in a recession. Their corporate buyer (Boeing) really likes what they are doing and won’t dare to disturb Insitu’s success.

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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.