John Bongard – thanks for nothing Fisher and Paykel Appliances

Good riddance, but little help to those he shafted. John Bongard comes from the same stable as John Key, the echelon who were influenced by the rise and rise of free-marketeerism. There was an older ethos out there at F&P, epitomised by the likes of Chris Staynes, and you can track it back all the way through Shacklocks, to our pioneering days, and the old ‘Number 1″ black ‘shacky’.

The sad thing is that there were a pool of smart – extremely smart – design engineers there. The Smart Drive was as pure an engineering statement, as I’ve seen in many a year. The new gas technology (and I kept up with that all the way) was ground-breaking – even if commercial decisions de-smarted it somewhat. And Bill Currie’s new approach to wind generation is pure genius.

At the end of the day, Bongard said it all about himself (and I mentioned it in another blog at the time) when he said of the recession “we (read ‘I’) never saw it coming”. Given that folk like me were predicting it to the decade 20 years out, and to the year (or 2) a decade out, that comment either denotes ignorance, or arrogance, or both. I say both.

There is the silly social/fiscal standoff, of course. Whether you nurture a loyal, supportive workforce, and unleash their potential in willing form, or whether you look to use slave labour, and look to the bottom line at the expense of all else.

The big-picture irony, of course, is that you are using the slave labour to build products for folk on greater incomes. Who were they again? Oh yes, they (in macro terms) are the folk you made redundant. Think about it. In macro terms, why be surprised if the market vanished? You made it do so, quite clearly – as much as anyone did, Mr Bongard.

Look at the prospectus, and you see that attitude in a slightly different form. Bongard had to record when he bought or sold shares, and got some as part of his package. Essentially, there is one day I remember, where he ‘made’ $300,000 in a day, by timing his ‘cashing in’. All legitimate of course, but in macro terms, he just syphoned 1/3 of a million out of the firm, the one he ran into the red, displaced from it’s base, and has now left (or was he shown the door, Gary?)

Bongard is the same as Key – both syphoned off wealth, although we can argue that Bongard was at least part of something useful – Key just creamed it off and the social usefulness was a negative figure – 50 mill by all accounts.

The real bancruptcy is in social conscience, both are guilty in that regard. Goodbye John Bongard – if you really have stress-induced health issues, I’m sure a lot of your laid-off workers can tell you what it’s like – from a lot closer to the breadline. I for one feel no sympathy.

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