Saturdays in December are always busy and today was no different. I visited 23 countries today for various reasons. I also sat in a toy design review session late this afternoon after returning from the trip. We have a new toy that we were hoping to introduce this year but it has been running behind schedule all through the summer and autumn. Alot of conflicts between what the designer wants and what the developers can actually produce. In this case, the designer is Noel. Noel is (debateably) our best and most prolific designer. Her toys routinely become the hottest of the season. The problem is that she knows she is good... so she doesn't feel like she has to compromise. It has gotten where most of the developers don't want to work with her, except for the fact they enjoy the challenges she creates with her designs. Slowly the conflicts have been resolved... Noel finally made a few minor changes and the developers have found some creative ways for the toy to be manufactured. There is only one remaining hurdle. The session this afternoon... which ran into the evening... was about understanding our options for dealing with the one remaining obstacle and determining our path forward. Given that our option forward is going to require a new set of tooling be produced, we have decided to postpone Noel's toy until next Christmas. It was mixed feelings for most everyone. We are excited to know we can now actually produce & distribute the toy but are disappointed it will have to wait until next year. I know you are probably wondering about the toy but unfortunately I am not at liberty to share any details with you. That's our standard policy here at North Pole Inc.
After the session, I joined Mrs. Claus for dinner. We don't get to enjoy dinner together that often during the Christmas season, particularly on Saturdays, so it was nice. After dinner, Jingle, Candy, Bo, and I toured the North Pole production facility while Bo provided an update on production status. Here at the North Pole facility, we are running at capacity and have had virtually no unplanned downtime. The team has been exceeding the daily qouta by about 1%. All of our raw materials for the remainder of the season have been staged here at the North Pole.
After the production floor tour, we went to one of the conference rooms, where Bo gave us an update on production at our off-shore, 3rd party operated manufacturing facilities. The China facility is exceeding production goals... though the costs are coming in 3% higher than expected. The increased cost is primarily a result of my direction to not only perform 100% inspection on all of the toys coming out of the facility but to also apply a more robust set of testing & inspection critera. My concern is not only is it a new facility with a new vendor for us, but I am also concerned about the heightened public awareness of qaulity & safety issues with items manufactured in China. It we were to have any issues at all out of that facility, it could create some significant public relations damage. Quality is so high at our North Pole facility that we only do random sampling so the costs are much lower. At the India facility, Bo tells us that we have recovered from some of the earlier issues and are back on track. He was also able to confirm that work has begun on the Disaster Recovery plan there and that he expects it to be fully implemented within the week. Overall, we are on-track for Christmas Eve and I am feeling really good about the current status.
Ok... it's late - Mrs. Claus has already gone to bed - but I need to run down to HQ for a quick meeting regarding the long-range weather forecasts and potential impacts to our distribution & flight planning.