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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Envelope Corporate Doublespeak

Posted by Jerry Velona on Feb 21, 2012 11:56:00 AM

In a post from last fall I promised I would return to the hilarious letter we saw from one of America’s largest envelope companies. The company filed for bankruptcy protection and was purchased by a private equity company and has been downsizing ever since. Their most recent layoff and office closing (sorry, “restructuring”) was announced in the form of a press release/public letter in October of 2011.

I mentioned at the time that while big corporations serve a need in the economy, I’ve always preferred to work for small companies. Elite Envelope has grown considerably since our humble origins in 2003, but we have managed to keep in daily contact with all of our staff and many of our customers. This has been a big part of our success.  Another factor that helps small businesses maintain a proper perspective is that losing one customer or one employee is a big deal.   The paradox of big companies is they get big by providing value to many but then they value the many less as a result.

When speaking to a big audience rather than small groups or individuals, I guess the feeling is you can spin things anyway you want. After all; you’re a massive corporation! (Or government bureaucracy – don’t get me started there)  So, here are a few more chestnuts from the aforementioned letter as promised.  (Helpful translation and/or snarky comments in parenthesis mine).

These efforts(i.e.the layoffs and office closings) will allow us to build a stronger product, service, and quality value proposition for our customers.” (Corporations love to talk about “value propositions”; sounds so “MBA”)

“The next step in the evolution of our…strategy is to build on our value proposition (there they go again) to customers by maximizing customer focus, responsiveness, and value.” (Are they saying they are going to make their customers more focused, responsive and valuable? Sign me up!)

“The consolidation allows us to…leverage technology to enhance the customer experience, and align with key Business Unit requirements (jargon alert!). This will enable cross-training to ensure capability and knowledge share of customers, markets, and other important information.” (yes, but will key Business Unit requirements be knowledge-shared as well? Discuss amongst yourselves. )

“Although this is the right thing to do for our customers and our company, it doesn’t come without change for some of our dedicated employees. (ya’ think?).

The migration of select roles from current locations into our future-state design will take place over several months”. (Migrating to the future-state?  Did they get Ray Bradbury to write this?)

More information will be shared as we move through this next phase of improving our (wait, let’s all say it together) customer value proposition and transforming (sic) to the leader of our industry."

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the next letter!

Topics: elite envelope, elite envelope, envelope industry, corporate-speak

Pushing the Envelope in the Wrong Direction

Posted by Jerry Velona on Nov 1, 2011 11:42:00 AM

In my last post I mentioned a once proud, independent envelope company that declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago and is now owned and run by an equity company.  They have already closed numerous plants throughout the country and laid-off hundreds if not thousands.  As these things often go, the layoffs and consolidation continue for the purpose of restoring the financial health of the envelope firm thereby allowing the parent company to sell it for a handsome profit and move on to its next target.  So goes the creative destruction of the market system.

It’s easy to view this process with disdain. After all, many people’s lives are adversely affected while the cold calculus of business economics moves toward maximum efficiency.  I happen to think that it’s probably the best method for keeping a company going after poor management runs it into the ground.

What makes it worse though is the way that many companies will announce layoffs and plant closings and bad news in general.  Now, there’s nothing wrong with presenting yourself in the best possible light. We do it as individuals each day.  Sometimes it’s simple tact which causes us not to speak the whole truth to someone. There are ways of presenting facts where feelings are spared and reputations maintained while the point is made.  

However, it does a disservice to those involved both on the giving and the receiving end when corporations deliver news in the type of corporate-speak we saw in a recent announcement by the aforementioned equity company.  This is aside from the poor grammar, overuse of clichés and jargon and general lack of clarity.  I will quote a few lines and provide a reasonable translation: my comments in parentheses.

 carnival barker photo

“We are in the midst of transforming ourselves from a good company to positioning ourselves as a truly great company”.   (I guess being in the position of a truly great company is better than actually being a truly great company. This is the opening line; lots more good stuff to come. )

“A strong foundation has been created by you (who are they addressing here? The remaining employees, the public?)  that will allow us to bring innovation to our market, drive sustainable growth and create value for our customers”. (These days, no business can release a statement that doesn’t mention “sustainability” at least once.  How about this instead? “The recent layoffs and plant closings have restored the company to profitability.”)

“The foundation is our high performance culture, operating as  We must continue to build on this foundation by streamlining where it makes sense, (uh-oh),  sharing best practices ( because sharing is so nice), and driving consistency through-out (sic) the organization.”

To be continued folks. It gets worse/better depending on your point of view. As for me, I need to get back to taking care of our customers. Or should I say, “creating a sustainable growth and value proposition”?



Topics: envelope company, pushing the envelope, corporate-speak

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

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