May 12, 2003

The Lighthouse: Spring 2003
The Quarterly In-House Newsletter of IllDonk Industries

Note from the Chairman: A Look Back…and a Look Ahead

Spring is a time of change and growth, both of which have been much on my mind as we close out a fiscal 2002 which, as I’m sure all of you are aware, was nothing if not eventful for all of us here at IDI. The Finance and Accounting teams have just finished up the year-end figures, and while some might say that our inability to have met even our absolute-bare-minimum projections means that 2002 was an utter failure without even the slightest hint of a redeeming quality, I’d rather that we instead think of it as a jumping-off point, since things can only get better from here!

Certainly we’re hoping to avoid the sales rep mixup from this past Summer, and steps have been taken to ensure that each region is effectively covered, and that no region is ‘flooded’ as it were. It’s still a mystery how Chris Woolley, our former Sales Director, assigned all seven of his reps to the Southwest region, an oversight which not only left most of the country unrepped during the all-important holiday buying season, it also caused frayed relations with our most important Southwest region buyers, who were understandably annoyed at the multiple phone calls and meeting requests.

Back at home, perhaps the area of IDI where we’d all like to see the biggest changes in fiscal 2003 (besides sales, of course!) is Human Resources. As I hope you all realize, the work of the Human Resources can be extremely trying and difficult even during the best of times, which fiscal 2002 certainly wasn’t. This unsung group of IDI team members has to deal with so much the rest of us would rather just not think about, so with that in mind it seemed almost natural to assign them notification responsibility for the series of Summer and Winter layoffs that came as an increasingly diminishing shock to so many of you.

While what’s past is past and there’s no use crying about water under the bridge, it does appear that this decision may have been a mistake on my part. One thing I learned last year is that an employee skilled in filing legal paperwork and insurance forms might not necessarily have the temperament needed to downsize up to ten employees in an afternoon. The “Shreveport Situation” springs immediately to mind, and while I can understand how it might be easier to tell people that they’re being transferred to a new branch office rather than let go, it’s inevitable that these employees will soon realize that there simply is no Shreveport branch office. Be assured that any future layoffs (which, of course, we’re hoping there won’t be!) will be performed by fully trained and responsible staff members.

(And should any of you still be in contact with these ‘transferred’ former team members, please remind them that while we are legally obligated to pay their moving expenses down to Louisiana, we are under no such obligation to cover the return trip, as it were. If they have a problem with this, just tell them about the horrible winter they missed up here!)

But these events, like so many unfortunate others from last year, are finally behind us, giving us all a chance to build and grow anew in fiscal 2003. We have some great new products on the horizon, and with a little luck and a lot of hard work from all of us, a terrific future is within reach. Let's go get `em!

Herbert R. Appleby, Jr.
Chairman and CEO, IllDonk Industries

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Holiday Party Fun for Everyone!

Another year at IDI has come to an end, and with that comes another fun holiday party! Even though the unfortunate mid-December layoffs and the promise of reduced non-peak rates meant that this was the first IDI holiday party in my 22 years with the company to be held in March, we all put on our best outfits, sang a chorus of "We need a little Christmas, right this very minute!" and headed over to the surprisingly roomy Bud's Suds Hut for some good cheer.

It's no secret that this has been a rough year for IDI, and I couldn't have been the only one to look around the room and think of old team members no longer with us. But there was no time for sadness, not with the fine choice of chicken or beef (and again I offer my apologies to Patty in Sales; we were promised that there would be a vegetarian entree, and the appearance of the hearty and hidden pieces of pork in the garden salad were an unfortunate downnote on a fun day), as well as the musical stylings of Steve in Accounting! Steve's collection of CD's brought everybody out onto the dance floor for a touch of "IllDonk Funk." I'm still tapping my toes!

As always, Mr. Appleby did an excellent job "firing up" the team. While he wasn't able to perform his usual duty of dressing up like Santa and handing out the bonuses, for at least two obvious reasons, I think that everybody left Bud's Hut filled with the old IDI holiday spirit.

Let's all give another hearty congratulations to the big raffle winners, Heidi in the mailroom and Scott E. in Finance. I don't think any of us will forget the look of surprise on their faces when they opened the envelopes to find out that all of their food and drinks for the night would be free, though I know that many of you were showing your own looks of surprise as you realized that this meant that your food and drinks would not be. I think it would be good to remember the words of Mr. Appleby form that night, when he reminded us that "There's no I in 'team,' or in 'separate checks' for that matter." As for me, one of the many advantages to the noon-2 party time was that it wasn't long enough to work up too expensive a tab, anyway.

While it's unfortunate that nobody remembered to bring a camera, I know that my memories from that long lunchtime will live on in my head for years to come, and I look forward to dancing with most of you again at next year's bash. Yay team!

Ann Earley
Assistant to Mr. Appleby

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