Blog: Idea for a TV sitcom
Dave Leggett | 22 March 2006
Culture clashes can be funny, especially when exaggerated. I was out with an industry guy last night and I think we stumbled on an idea for a TV sitcom. Imagine an old vehicle making firm in the manufacturing heartland of the English West Midlands, making specialist products mainly for local niche markets.
In some ways, the firm's very existence flies in the face of conventional auto industry wisdom and business logic. A volume producer without the volume and without the resources that the big OEMs have. It is definitely ‘old economy’ in style, but has showed commendable resilience over the years. There may even be something of a bunker mentality among the loyal workers who have stuck around, through thick and thin (mainly thin, of late). And there are some delightfully thick West Midlands accents around (Yow all-roight, mate?).
Enter the sharp suits from a US private equity firm. They smell money, but they take some time to get their heads around the product that the firm is making and its business model.
‘So let’s get this straight: you’re telling me that you are mainly making cargo vans for the British postal service? Definitely no minivans or sexy SUVs? Kinda Ford Econoline but without the grunt…And the vans don’t really work on global markets? Except there’s a ‘new’ one now that is only five years off the pace as opposed to the other lines you've been selling that are described as thirty years off the pace.
'Heck, it’s got legs buddy! There’s a whole lotta value to be unlocked in here somewhere; you just leave the numbers to us….oh, and, err, where’s the nearest Starbucks and what do you guys do for lunch around here? Shall we do Asian today? Local sushi bar maybe? I’ll drive.’
‘Mick’s gree-say spoon is just around the corner, loy-ke. Park yer ‘arris and I’ll fetch yow a nice mug o’ taay and a bacon roll. Brown sauce or red?’
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...