HANSOME ENERGY SYSTEMS INC.
November 14, 1995
Dean, Graduate School
Dear Dean Dunlap:
I was very happy to hear about the plans for the “Carey Center” at Hamline University. It has been a source of much frustration to me that business concepts which I have seen working and which I admire have so little visibility in academia.
Ray Carey was Chairman of the Board and CEO of ADT Security Systems Inc. when I joined their Engineering Department in 1973. My specialty was Microwave Transmission Systems, and my previous employers were Bendix Navigation & Control Division and IT&T Avionics Div. Working at ADT was very different from working at either Bendix or IT&T.
ADT had a charter which was taken seriously. We, the employee-associates, were entrusted with a business which we ran for the benefit of the stockholders. We were encouraged and helped to become stockholders through profit sharing. The needs of the employees were recognized as an important benefit to the stockholders, and a “relaxed and purposeful atmosphere” provision was in the charter. The organization was advancement was by merit. There was a real sense of togetherness and common purpose between senior management, mid level management, and associates. At ADT, I didn’t know at first who was union and who was not, which was absolutely incredible after Bendix, where we were not allowed to touch an instrument without being “covered” by a union technician sitting behind the working engineer. At ADT, the union members were part of the team.
My personal history might illustrate how Ray Carey’s management philosophy worked in practice. I started as a consulting engineer with ADT’s corporate headquarters that I was a woman was simply not a factor. Several months later my husband was offered a wonderful job in Chicago. In a two career family tough decisions come up and we decided that the move to Chicago was in the best interest of the family. I explained the situation to my boss at ADT and offered my resignation. Their response was incredible. Although all Engineering was in N.Y.C., I was encouraged to stay with ADT, and work out of a local field office on stand alone consulting projects with monthly debriefings at the Corporate office. I was delighted to accept that offer.
In early 1976, I was called to the Corporate office and offered a position as Regional General Manager for ADT’s field operation in Chicago. The responsibility involved sales, installation and service of alarm systems, a multimillion dollar operation with several hundred employees. Very different from Engineering. Ray Carey explained that he believed that management skills are universal and transferable. Needless to say again, the fact that I was a woman and that all the managers reporting to me would be men did not enter into the conversation.
I enjoyed my seven years as a field general manager. During those years, the “rust belt” that Chicago was in, went through tow major recessions. Mr. Carey instituted a no layoff policy. Yes, we did have an obligation to the stockholders and yes we needed to have the company succeed but not through layoffs. We needed inventive products and excellent service, and our associates were to be re-trained to work with the new products.
There was some concern among outside training consultants whether our very long time employees could be retrained to use the new computer systems, but Mr. Carey insisted they could. He was right. Many of our senior people became the best installers and operators of the new systems.
All through that bleak period of 1979 to 1982, investments in automation, and training continued and there was profit sharing. We did not have layoffs and profits held up.
In 1983 I was promoted to Corporate VP of Engineering at the NYC headquarters. We moved back east.
My experience at ADT was not unique. There were other senior women in management; the General Manager of Holland, a Regional Controller in St. Louis, a Branch manager in California, and others. We had an Afro-American woman selling security systems in Chicago. When she was hired, the prediction was that a woman, and a black woman at that, would have no credibility in this highly technical sales field. She did exceedingly well.
The ADT meritocracy did not serve only women and minorities. When I looked around the table at the Regional General Managers meetings, we were a mixed bunch. There were people with advanced degrees from MIT sitting next to some who did not graduate college. All were promoted purely on the merits of their work.
By 1987 the revenues of ADT had increased fivefold since I had joined the company in 1973. We had a very strong balance sheet and the takeover frenzy was at its height. As they say, the rest is history.
Still, I learned through my youngest son who works for ADT in Minneapolis/St. Paul that despite all the changes and pressures after the takeover, many of the basics installed at ADT remain.
During the years I was in the field at ADT my two older children were going through college. They were at Brown University and University of Michigan where they were given a very negative view of business, with no feeling at all for the contributions that sound business practices bring to a country. I hope that the “Carey Center” would be able to redress that situation, enable students to differentiate between the various business systems, and educate them in the canons of Democratic Capitalism, which worked so well for us.
My personal contribution to help in the “Carey Center” start-up is inclosed.