So here I am once more…
The first time I became “redundant” from Axell Wireless or Cobham Wireless as it was then, a mere 14 months ago; I accepted it; that is to say they offered me money to go away so I took the money.
There were several months of lead-up to that decision, several months in which I had plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons of the situation, which would have meant me working from home, full time, and as I reasoned that working from home would be a bit weird and possibly unpleasant and that, as I have written elsewhere, I had no faith in the Cobham-led management, or the intentions of Cobham’s new owners, so I decided to accept the offer of redundancy.
Then in at the end of March this year Axell contacted me and asked if I’d like to “go back” and do some work for them. Having been quietly enjoying the life of Riley since I departed Axell and having been quite unbothered by matters corporate, I thought about it and eventually said “yes” but that I’d only work part time and from home. I was still in two minds about the “at home” bit but thought I’d give it a try, the extra money would be, I had no problem in conceding, useful to have.
Then nothing happened, not until about mid-way through July at least when the corporate machine sprang into life and I was officially offered a position (as they say). In the interim, Cobham’s new owners had reneged on their promise not to break-up the “set” and sold Axell to some people called “Rcapital” who said: “Rcapital will work closely with the management team to further invest in products and people to turnaround the global business, headquartered in Buckinghamshire.”
So, anyway, I “went back”, part time, from home, and got stuck into re-branding documents from Cobham Wireless back to Axell Wireless. It soon became apparent that the few hours a week that I’d said that I’d be happy to work and which were subsequently enshrined in my contract of employment, were not nearly enough. I spoke to my boss’s boss (a hangover from previous corporate times, you can never have too many layers of bosses) and we agreed that I would work more hours and keep a time sheet and the “overtime” would be paid accordingly, which it was. So far so good. There was a slight hiccup before I started when the initial offer of employment was received, I was being offered slightly less (pro rata) than I was getting before I left, so I suggested that as they had asked me to come back, they might want to reconsider their offer, which they did.
And everything was rosy, I was working through a whole pile of documents, specification sheets, handbooks, many of which I had some years previously re-branded from Axell to Cobham and was now reversing the process. Money, from our new Rcapital overlords, was not a problem it seemed, when I asked for a couple of Adobe programs (Acrobat Pro and InDesign), the entire Adobe suite was procured, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and many more which I was never going to use but, it was pointed out that the entire suite was only “so much” more that the standalone licences, so the entire suite it was.
The company was though in trouble. We weren’t selling enough stuff, we had orders, but not enough.
The management team was on the cusp of meetings to discuss just which direction the company should go, what we should concentrate on.
The management team, the team of people assembled piecemeal and ad hoc by various regimes to guide the company, not because they know anything about the wireless coverage industry but because they are “managers”. Does it strike anyone else that this is surely a recipe for mismanagement?
Does it seem odd that the people “in charge” of a company whose roots go back to 1972 and which was at one time, arguably, the foremost wireless coverage company in the world, should be agonising over what they need to do to stay afloat?
Seduced by technology and the overarching need to make more and more money, Axell was set along a course some time ago which negated its ability to easily make the core products that had so long been its bread-and-butter revenue earners. The future was digital, CPRI based and subcontracted. Had those in charge had a grounding in the wireless coverage industry then maybe, just maybe they would have seen that while there certainly is a digital future, at the moment there is still a large market for old-style, analogue coverage solutions. Maybe.
Well, that’s just my opinion and I’m well aware that my opinion doesn’t really count for much.
And so, whatever the reason, Rcapital, in spite of their fine words, suddenly decided that Axell wasn’t worth the trouble and the investment.
On Monday 30th November we were informed that all overtime was cancelled, no exceptions.
On Tuesday 1st December there was an all-hands meeting, an audio conference, in which we were told that the company was now in administration but that everything was being done to find a buyer and it was busines as usual, with the exception of overtime.
I didn’t really mind this, I could work with a period of what would be reduced pay, for a while, until things got sorted. Keep calm and… you know.
On Monday 7th December we had another audio conference meeting during which we were told that with immediate effect all bets were off, all avenues had been exhausted, no buyers could be found and would the last one out please turn out the lights.
They gave it their all then, a whole week of searching. Perhaps it’s just that nobody wanted to buy the house with sitting tenants. Maybe there was a lucrative deal for the order book; who knows?
Back in June, Russ Haworth, the then CEO of Axell Wireless and one of a string of CEOs to grace Axell with his presence, said of the Rcapital acquisition:
“We believe that our partnership with Rcapital will bring strategic funding and operational support to deliver sustainable growth. We are confident that Rcapital shares in our vision and the potential that this business has to offer.”
Rcapital it seems had other ideas.
And I haven’t come here to moan on and on about it, what’s happened has happened, a company has to make money to stay in business; I just wonder why when there seems to be so much coverage business about, the Axell management team couldn’t find any.
I left Axell after almost 31 years with the company in its varied guises, then I was invited back, and I have to say that I was happy to be back. I’d worked with these people, some of them, for three decades and a jolly fine bunch of people they are and no doubt most of them are out there now actively looking for new roles and I wish them the best of luck.
I’m too young to retire, just yet a while. Another four or five years, assuming that HM Government doesn’t move the goal posts again, but I suppose I’d be foolish to say that I’m not open to suggestions, civil ones that is.