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A Savage Factory: An Eyewitness Account of the Auto Industry's Self-Destruction [Paperback]

Robert J. Dewar
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2009
A Savage Factory is a true memoir straight from the factory floor of an automotive giant losing the global auto war to smaller, weaker, less experienced foreign competitors that beat us at our own game on our own turf. It gives an inside look, up close, at incompetent management at war with the labor force that created a quality nightmare and caused the car buying public to lose trust and faith in American cars. It is a true story of the inner workings of Ford's largest automatic transmission plant: the people, the machines, and the never ending war between management and labor that produced low quality cars that opened the door for foreign competitors to come to our country and take our auto market. It gives real life examples of the battlefield like conditions in the auto plants that caused alcoholism, drug addition, sexual harassment, and family breakdown, while producing transmissions that received the largest recall in automotive history and would have caused Ford Motor Company to go bankrupt had the Federal Government not intervened.

Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (4 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438952937
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438952932
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 840,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Robert J. Dewar came from a working class family in the bituminous coal fields. He paid his own way through Penn State and receivied a full academic scholarship to earn an MBA at the University of Southern California. His first job was at Procter and Gamble, managing the Duncan Hines Cake Mix operation in Cincinnati. When he left P&G to take a supervisor's job at Ford, he was shocked at the incompetent management, the never ending war between management and labor, and the lack of real quality standards. He quickly concluded that at some future time the entire auto industry would simply collapse under its own weight, much like the old Soviet Union collapsed. Dewar wanted to give people a long, hard look behind the walls of auto plants to show people how the cars were built that lost our largest and most important manufacturing industry. So he kept a daily journal. He made copies of telltale internal memos. He made an extensive collection of defective parts that were routinely assembled into Ford C-4 automatic transmissions. When Ford received the largest recall in auto history because of defective transmissions built at the Sharonville Transmission Plant, Dewar decided to write A Savage Factory.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book has certainly lived up to expectations. It is a no nonsense first hand account of a foreman at the Ford Sharonsville transmission plant and describes the horrendous practices going on, not as a one sided tirade against one or the other party but from the perspective of a well educated and very perceptive observer.

The dance between the Ford factory floor management and the UAW is described in great detail, with the author lso making observations on the long term damage this caused. The management failed to grasp the long term distrust their managerial methods were creating, especially the molestation of the hourly worers when the need for production was low (economic crisis years), and then reverting back to turning a blind eye to what happened at the shop floor when sales were good and they needed to get high outputs from the plants.

The one aside on working and managerial practices going on in Procter and Gamble, another one of the author's previous employers is both highly amusing and rings very true, having observed several such companies from the inside myself. It is actually also surprisingly good at describing automotive management at the non-plant level (you might want to read On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors: John Z. De Lorean's Look Inside the Automotive Giant or The Decline and Fall of the American Automobile Industry for further corroboration of that).

I can only recommend the book as an essential reading for anyone interested in the automotive industry generally, as well as in some of the issues plaguing it today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Savage Factory 11 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought this as a present for my husband and he loved it. He had already read reviews so was looking forward to it. He said it was an excellent read (if you like American cars). My 21 year old son enjoyed it too.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  78 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buckle up for a raw, jaw-dropping story of Ford driving itself to the brink 4 April 2009
By Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Robert Dewar captures the essence of an American auto plant in his compelling book "A Savage Factory." It's "Dilbert" meets "Lord of the Flies."

Dewar's true life, eyewitness account walks you through from his dis-orientation to his self-termination. The stories are both hilarious and harrowing, showing the greasy underside of Ford Motor Company that will forever stain your impression of the auto industry because of the managers and union workers whose battle for control puts Ford on a collision course for self-destruction.

Dewar's raw, front row seat writing offers no sugar coating because the hardened characters who threatened his life with a loaded gun, intimidate him with operational sabotage, break him psycholoigcally that sent him to recoup and re-group with a shrink, and confound him with petty managerial games are not conjourned from his imagination but are people who lived and breathed down his neck every day he walked the factory floor of Ford.

If you think you have a bad day at the office or a boss who is intolerable, think again. Reading this account of how the Detroit Mafia plays God with people's careers while jeopardizing their health and family life will certainly make you grateful that you don't have to don a Foreman's jacket that doubled as a bulls-eye for unimaginable abuse and one unbeievable story.

"A Savage Factory" will grip you with disbelief from start to finish and make you appreciate that you never had to live the experiences that Robert Dewar endured in order to take home a paycheck.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Dewar, remembered 22 Jan 2010
By Barb D. - Published on Amazon.com
Bob Dewar passed away on Jan. 20, 2010.

Robert Joseph Dewar was born in McKeesport, PA on March 23, 1943 and spent much of his childhood working in coal mines alongside his father and brothers. Bob knew what it meant to pull himself up from his bootstraps and reach for the stars. Well-respected in the community, he embodied the entrepreneurial spirit.

Known for his wit, humor, and ideas always tinged with strong opinions, he was an animated storyteller who bristled with life when he wove tales. His lifelong dream was to write a book about his experiences.

A Navy veteran and graduate of Penn State University and University of Southern California, he was an avid gardener and lover of nature and wilderness. Bob had wanderlust and enjoyed camping and travel.

In 1986, he realized his dream of becoming a business owner and opened The Box Place on Colerain Ave.

Never one to sit on his laurels, Bob achieved another lifelong dream and became a published author in 2009. "A Savage Factory," which has received wide acclaim, details his true life experiences working as a foreman at Ford's Sharonville transmission plant. Recently, Bob toured the old plant with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal and saw first-hand the dramartic overhaul by Ford. The tour was arranged by the CEO of Ford Motor Company after receiving a copy of Bob's book.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; three children, Richard, Sharon and David. Grandchild, Ethan; and brothers, Jim, Herb, and Harry. He is preceded by brothers Charles, Bill, Alfred and sister Mary Ann. Memorials may be made to McKeesport Heritage Center (1832 Arboretum Drive, McKeesport, PA 15132), or buy Bob's book on Amazon.com.

(Obituary from The Cincinnati Enquirer 22 January 2010)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Book 28 Aug 2010
By JanetP - Published on Amazon.com
I read this book with tears in my eyes as my husband worked at Ford in Sharonville in the 1970's. He worked there from the time he was 17 until he was 60 because he wanted to save enough money so that his only son would never have to work in this type of environment but I didn't realize that until I read this book. In the 70's, I only knew of the long hours, drinking and the arguments we had and the financial worries we had when the oil embargo hit. I now know that the pressures of his job and conditions he had to work in were a huge factor in our divorce. You would have to be super people to survive what Ford dished out. My ex died soon after he retired from Ford from congestive heart failure. He was 62. He didn't get to see his only grandchild or enjoy his retirement - his body was just plain worn out. Most of his friends died even before retirement, mostly from cancer. While he told me some things about what went on at Ford, I had no idea the scope of the abuse. He was not the type to complain. He was a hard worker and a good father and husband but Ford just beat him into the ground. Mr. Dewar shines a much needed light on the subject of man's inhumanity to man. I was so sorry to hear of his passing. May his star shine bright in heaven. Thank you Bob.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing account of the inner workings of the American Auto Industries Leader 22 Aug 2009
By John D. Vandiver - Published on Amazon.com
Having worked in the auto industry, as a supplier to Ford Motor Company, and having had a 285+ pound Ford Assembly Plant Manager in my face, cussing me like a Sailor from 3" away, leaves me sympathizing with the author's attempt to maintain his sanity in the day-to-day environment that he accurately describes as "A Savage Factory"!

This book is a "MUST READ" if you have ever been a supplier, stock holder, relative of a Ford employee or the owner/victim of the poor quality produced by Ford Motor Company. This "Revealing and Shocking" account of the constant war between the UAW "Rank and File" and Ford middle and upper management leaves one wondering HOW Ford was able to avoid the bankruptcy that devoured its competitors.

The Author's account of the face-to-face meeting, with an employee that confessed to coming into the plant to "Kill" him and other "Honkies", provides a true picture of the stresses and pressures that Ford placed on the employees with its "Make the Numbers or Else" mentality! His account of his meeting with the Doctor at "Rollmans" is a turning point in Mr. Dewar's life and provides him the tools to continue to drive toward his ultimate dream of leaving corporate America.

One reviewer stated that Mr. Dewar "embellished" his witnessed/lived accounts of his experiences at Ford to sell his book! I am sure that his facility was much different than the Sharonville facility where the Author worked, and he should be thankful for that! Having worked for Mr. Dewar, during the "sanity" years at Signode, I can assure you of one thing: If he says it happened, It Happened!!!

If you purchase this book, Lock yourself in a room and read it cover to cover, OR hide it when you finish reading a short session. My copy was "Kidnapped" twice before I could complete reading it! Better yet, Buy multiple copies and share them with your co-workers when they start to complain about how bad "They" have it!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Jungle 15 July 2009
By Bryan F. Shaw - Published on Amazon.com
Do not open "A Savage Factory" unless you have a day or so to kill because you won't be able to put it down. My dad told me about this book and gave me his copy to read when I was home on vacation. "A Savage Factory" is an eye-witness expose of the corruption that went on during the manufacturing of Ford transmissions during the late 1970s (e.g., when quality was at its very lowest). The book reminded me (and I'm sure it will remind others) of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" that was published in 1906 and that exposed the shocking horrors and corruption of the meatpacking industry. The author, Dewar, gives a detailed and very scientific/analytical account of the entire process of manufacturing transmissions as well as of the psychology of the auto-worker and mid- and upper-level management. The chapter about the mental health hospital that dealt especially with burn-outs (or near burn-outs) from Ford was hilarious (but also enlightening for anyone working in a fast-pace, stressful environment). The sad thing about "A Savage Factory" is that everything that Dewar describes in the book--as shocking as it all seems at first--is probably not beneath the bozos that have been running the auto industry into the dirt for 30 years. WARNING: Do not buy this book if you have ever worked in management at Ford (and probably GM too)!
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