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Lazy French, Stupid Americans?

Lazy French, Stupid Americans?

Our World | On 06, Mar 2013

Did you see the recent BBC news story, titled “French criticise ‘ignorant’ comments by US tyre boss”.

In a snapshot, the boss of Titan Tyres in the States was asked by the French government to support the modernisation of some Goodyear manufacturing facilities in France. The “Grizz “as he is affectionately called, replied in writing saying he’d been to the factory, and whilst they were paid for a 35 hour week they were lazy and only worked 3 hours a day. He also said he wasn’t stupid enough to invest in France.

As you can imagine, the French government were delighted by his caring and thoughtful response and in reply thanked him for his opinion and reminded him that it was Michelin, a French tyre company, that just happened to be 20 times bigger than his and that perhaps he was ignorant of the significant success many US companies had achieved by investing in France.

Sign of the times?

It’s not every day that governments and entrepreneurs have public slanging matches, but was this merely a cultural difference or was it perhaps a sign of the times that these things will become more open? Take Richard Branson and the West Coast Rail Franchise for example where Virgin Trains challenged the governments tender process and won.

Have we seen this openness transcend into the supply, discussion, negotiation and operation of events? Perhaps not yet, but with the ever increasing minutiae of tender RFI and RFP requests, how long before an agency takes a client to court over issues within the tender process? This might sound crazy, but indulge me for a moment and envisage a situation where the client has gone through a lengthy and highly detailed tender process only to award the business to a supplier who has not met the initial highly specified criteria. Can’t happen you say? Happens every day says I.

I have no doubt that business is awarded on a daily basis to a supplier who has not ticked every single box on the RFI, and if they have, they have potentially, shall we say, “stretched” reality. In this case a legal challenge could easily be mounted and the original supplier re-instated whilst a new process is engaged. All very messy and a bit far fetched, but it’s precisely what Virgin Trains did to the government and precedent has already been set, so watch this space.

Of course the big questions raised in the news story remain unanswered – are the French lazy and are Americans ignorant?

Nigel Cooper