Undercover Boss Denny Slagle Wants to Bring Mack Back

Denny Slagle Mack trucks are about as American as baseball, apple pie and Harley Davidsons ... even if the truck manufacturer was bought out by Volvo of Sweden. Still, every Mack that runs on American roads is built right here in the U.S.A. -- and, right along with the rest of the trucking industry, Mack was hit hard by the recession.

But President and CEO Denny Slagle is intent on helping the company return to its former glory, and that's one of the main reasons that he agreed to go on an 'Undercover Boss' journey into the belly of his company -- he wanted to see if the spirit was still there among the employees, and if not, he intended to find out how he could bring it back.

"They approached us about doing it on April 1, April Fool's Day, and I thought it was a joke," says Slagle. "But the more we talked about it, everyone thought it would be a good idea."

It did turn out to be a good idea, from Slagle's perspective. He was able to address the rumor that Mack Trucks Inc. -- which has been building trucks in America for more than 100 years and has served the U.S. military since WWI -- would be moving to Mexico, as so many other truck manufacturers have done. "We are determined to stay in the U.S.A.," he asserts. "We've made a big investment in our plants here, and we believe that we'll make it pay off by working harder and smarter -- which is the American way."

Not enough elbow grease

Working harder and smarter didn't seem to be an option for Slagle, however, once he went undercover with a fake mustache, heavy glasses and dyed hair and beard. On his first assignment, at the Engine Assembly Plant in Hagersown, Md., he worked with Tracy, an engineer who is responsible for putting the front covers on the engines in two minutes and 34 seconds--she turns out 140 engines per day -- unless she was training someone like Slagle. Slagle found it impossible to scan each engine, grease it, add saline, put the cover on and clean the excess saline in that time. As a matter of fact, he screwed up so badly he stopped the entire assembly line.

Later, after Slagle had revealed his true indentity, he tried to make it up to the hard-working Tracy be giving her an innovation award for devising a way to project the engines as they're built, and, knowing how important her family is to her a he gave her and 15 family members,a family reunion in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Too fast for his own good

Next Slagle tried his hand in Baltimore, Md., at the Parts Distribution Center. Working with Mike, a material technician, he had a lead foot on the forklift, driving a little too fast and clipping some of the rows. "I had a lot of nervous energy," he confesses, "and I tried to do things too fast." Despite keeping the pedal to the metal behind the wheel of the forklift, Mike told him it was taking him too long to find and retrieve the parts, and that an employee like Slagle would drive him to drink.

Mike was like many of the Mack employees whose families have been with the company for generations. He had been there since 1977, when his brother was also hired. His father worked there too, starting in 1961. He was the one who told Slagle that company moral was down and that workers were troubled by rumors that Mack would be going across the border to Mexico.

In the end, Slagle not only did his best to let Mike know that Mack has every intention of staying in the US, but he promised to donate a $5,000 donation to local athletics in Mike's name, and arranged for him and his family to spend a weekend in Pittsburgh to see a Pirates game.

AOL Jobs Asks
Undercover Boss Denny Slagle
5 Quick Questions

1. What was your first job? Construction laborer. I worked for my dad building houses.

2. What inspires you? Family; I hope my tombstone says I was a great family man.

3. What is the most important trait needed to succeed? Hard work, determination, and the desire to never stop learning.

4. What is your biggest challenge? Bringing Mack back as a symbol of American might and know-how.

5. What is the best career advice you ever received? Hire good people.

The nuts and bolts of the business

In Macungie, Pa., Slagle worked with a technician named Allan who showed him how to build the steel frame for a diesel exhaust fluid tank. Although Allen had to tell Slagle how to hold a tool correctly, Slagle actually had a substantial amount of success in this job, although it was tricky.

During a break with Allan, Slagle found out that Allan's 7 and 4-year-old grand children have Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare genetic disease that is almost always terminal. It touched Slagle and his wife so deeply that she actually made a personal donation to Allan, in the end, and Allan said he would use it to help his grandchildren.

Slagle thought Allan was so joyful and positive that in addition, a $5,000 donation will be made in Allan's name to help fight the disease, and the whole extended family, including the two ailing granddaughters would be sent to Disney world.

Exhausted by bumpers

Finally, at the same plant, Slagle worked with Jeff, another technician, on an assembly line, where he assisted in putting bumpers and exhaust stacks on the trucks. Slagle was fascinated to discover that Jeff had been with Mack since 1998, is restoring 13 Mack trucks, and belongs to a chapter of the Bulldogs, a group of Mack truck owners. During lunch the two went to the employees' garage to check out his trucks, some of which are vintage.

After the big reveal, Jeff received $5,000 toward the restoration of his trucks, with the goal in mind of taking Mack trucks to big shows. A donation of $5,000 would also be made in Jeff's name to help veterans, a cause which is very dear to him.

Slagle was ecstatic to find that many of his employees are just as determined as he is to bring Mack back to the American icon status it was in its glory days, and to bring this country back as well. "I appreciate being an American," he affirms, adding that many of the foreign business people he comes in contact with do not appreciate their own countries. Speaking of both Mack and America, he says, "We have to bring it back. We can't lose it."


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herkdia

Mack Trucks have been an American icon for years. They are great trucks and worth their price. Only problem is the price workers are having to pay.....keeping the trucks running. One distribution center in particular is using a program called "The Gap" - a form of quotas....not that working hard and providing services for the customer isn't bad...what is bad is managment instilling this program and following employees constantly if their computer shows they are "in the gap" of a certain amount of time things should be pulled. Now it's not taken into consideration that a little washer can be pulled faster than a 100 pound part. People are going out with heart attacks, strokes, etc. because of this new quota method. People who have worked hard there for over 25-30 years are being treated terribly. And management doesn't care....because Dennis Slagle says he has to protect the shareholders....so just have an ambulance every night outside the doors....the shareholders are going to get their due.......

March 14 2011 at 4:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Milo

Man are Americans stupid.......Global Economy means exactly that GLOBAL..... There are no countries there are no borders...........You have multi national corperations who look at the world as one big country and the factories and jobs go where the largest profits are made...............

February 21 2011 at 7:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SMSgt_USAFR_Retired

I watched the show last night--was impressed with both the CEO and the employees he came into contact with.

To preface the rest of my comments I am a retired labor relations specialist who was on the management side of the table and was very management oriented. However, the thing that distresses me greatly in today's business environment is the absolutely obscene salaries/perks paid to CEOs. It distresses me greatly that these people will accept raises while sending jobs to other countries or outright releasing employees.

Although Mack is now owned by Volvo, I hope Mack will be allowed the independence to manufacture vehicles in the US.

Americans produce good products if they are given good products to work with.

February 21 2011 at 2:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alvin

MAny years ago i purchased Mack stock in the name of my son, believing that this company was" Americana" and as he grew so did Mack. I , we, were disappointed to sell the few shares we held to a foreigh entity.

Lets buy it back.

February 21 2011 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
terry

I just finished watching this program and do believe it was ALL 100% staged.
A tear or two to make it look like the boss cares, But you know the bottom line.....................$$$$$

February 21 2011 at 1:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George G.

Some of you are saying that foreign companies' products made here in the USA are still "foreign". Hey folks, they are paying Americans to produce these products! Would you buy a car made in Mexico? The tea baggers and Fox news have brain washed you ignorant asses! Watch something besides Fox news and learn to read!

February 20 2011 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1MACK69

I WORK FOR A MACK VOLVO DEALER AND HAVE FOR SOME TIME NOW AS A TECH, AFTER THE TAKE OVER FROM VOLVO IT WAS A LITTLE ROUGH, KINDA LIKE HARLEY WITH AMF, BUT MACK PRODUCT HAS CONTINUED TO IMPROVE AND AFTER THE RELEASE OF THE 2010 EMISIONS ENGINES I AM VERY IMPRESSED WITH THE PRODUCT, I HAVE SEEN THIS MP SERIES ENGINE PULL AWAY FROM EVERY ONE ELSE, THEY ARE FAR A HEAD OF EVERY ONE WITH PERFORMANCE OF THESE ENGINES, I DRIVE THESE DAILY ON TEST DRIVES AFTER HORSE POWER UPGRDES, THE BEST FUEL MILAGE OUT THERE, 13 LITER 505 HORSE GETTING 6.4 MILES PER GAL. IS OUTSTANDING, THESE TRUCKS BEING BUILT AND MANUFACTURED IN USA KEEPS ALOT OF AMERICANS WORKING,SALES OF NEW TRUCKS ARE PICKING UP, I AM PROUD TO WORK ON THE BULLDOG

February 20 2011 at 10:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TOP

The well said was not for your comment Kawieboy. It was for the Greedy business comment. It was mistakenly posted. My take on business keeping part of their money is misplaced ideology. As a business owner I would love not to pay taxes or pay less tax, but how does that help the country.The roads has to be tarred, the bridges has to be built,other infrastructures are needed.So for those of you who thinks that there is no place for government, you are lost in ideology. The businesses are milking the people enough for maximum profits and the greedy and un-informed partisan ones are still advocating more for the businesses. How do you explain a Governor pushing for 117 million dollar in business tax breaks pushing his states deficit up and asking his public employees to pay twice the amount for medical and cutting their retirement benefits to save 30 million if not for blind ideology. This is very sad for this country.

February 20 2011 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TOP's comment
b poz

You have said it all as good as anybody in this blog,thank you!!

February 21 2011 at 10:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TOP

Well said

February 20 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john

2-20-2011 @7:59PM
kawieboy said... Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki employ more Americans than Harley Davidson....and most of them are built right here in the USA!
==========================================================

That may be true kawieboy, however the profits go to japan and the decision making concerning the American workers are ultimately made by Japanese. So to say they "employ" American workers may be true but is not really saying much, just rationalizing thats all. Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, and Suzuki THEY ARE NOT AMERICAN OWNED and OPERATED COMPANYS....as Harley is.

February 20 2011 at 8:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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