Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shitting the Bed

Love is hard.  Love is seldom rational, and love will often allow you to overlook certain shortcomings.   But sooner or later, love will not be enough to sustain a relationship that is going nowhere.  And sadly, that is the only conclusion I can draw from Eterna's most recent bungling of their company, direction and products.

"But James, YOU LOVE Eterna!"

Yes, but like all relationships, they have to be nurtured and supported.  The manner and method that Eterna has chosen to handle their people, their products - and ultimately their customers shows that the emperor is "butt-assed naked".

This didn't happen overnight, but it did happen.  Let's review some recent history -

Eterna makes the decision to promote someone with some actual experience, people skills and vision to run the company.  The word around the campfire is that this is good news.  The team seems excited, good things are coming, and then - Patrick Kury has left the building.  What had happened?  Lots of rumblings - but one key factor in all of this is that new owners came in and took over Eterna.
Some will say that the problem was that the owners were Chinese.  I want to state clearly that I completely disagree with that evaluation.  The simple fact is that the ownership while very successful in other sectors of their business, have set new standards for "not getting it" in their stewardship of Eterna.

Think that's unfair?  Another person is brought in and shown the door in record time.  Another person  is brought in and again, suddenly, there is hope.  Eterna starts to sharpen its focus, a fantastic campaign involving the Kontiki film is getting people's attention, and a new and exciting booth at BaselWorld all start to stir our hopes again...

And then in a move that underscores the current Eterna ownership's inability to sit still and allow things to grow, yet another CEO is brought in and announced at Eterna's cocktail party at BaselWorld this year - and it was without a doubt the most ham-fisted, poorly handled spectacle I've ever seen in the watch business - and I've seen some pretty "assed-up" stuff.  

As I wrote in this blog a few years ago, I visited Eterna's HQ back in 2013 and it was a pretty sad experience.  A magnificent building nearly empty, no real production to speak of, dozens of Chinese staff, and a handful of Swiss.  The only actual production I saw was not production at all, but rather a sad little space for restoration where 2 watchmakers labored away.  No actual watch assembly was happening there - apparently it was all farmed out elsewhere.  Not exactly what I think of when I think of a manufacturer.  I hope that maybe things have changed, but my sense is that in a mad dash to see that ever elusive "return on investment", the ownership of Eterna keep jumping from one wacky idea to the next and shitting the bed when they don't see an instant result.  Why invest in infrastructure, people or facilities when you can keep "jobbing it out"?

When it comes to Eterna, the present ownership seems to have a very bad case of the "fidgets".  They can't seem to understand that good things, sometimes, take time.

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