Is Your Company the Next Hudson Hornet?
“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”.
We have all seen this warning on our car’s side-view mirror. Unfortunately, we don’t always take it as seriously as we should, which can have some rather nasty consequences.
Bringing this analogy to our businesses can be a healthy exercise. But before we go there, let’s examine the history of the Hudson Motor Company which, for several decades, was one of the leader automobile manufacturers in North America. Hudson was an American car company that was founded in 1909 by Joseph Hudson, a Detroit department store entrepreneur. They manufactured cars until the late 1950’s.
Hudson was very innovative. They introduced dual brakes, dashboard oil-pressure gauges, as well as the transmission oil bath design for durability and a smoother ride. They we also the first to build a “step-down ride, where the car’s frame was below the axle, thus allowing you to step down into the car rather than the need to always step up. This lowered the center of gravity, providing better handling and making them very fast. They were an old NASCAR favorite for many years, winning a lot of races.
In particular, the Hudson Hornet was awesome car. Smooth, sleek, and quick. It had a trunk light AND a light under the hood. It was a mean, green machine. In its day, everyone wanted one.
So, what happened to Hudson – where are they now? Well, Hudson was ahead of their competition – until they weren’t. The Hudson ran on a straight six. A great engine that they had perfected. It was easy to work on and lasted nearly forever.
But it wasn’t an 8 cylinder. In the fifties, Detroit’s other automakers were cranking out 8 cylinder engines and people were lining up for them. Sure, they were more difficult to work on and unproven, but, hey, they were 8 cylinders! And 8 is better than 6, right? Oh, and this was the beginning of the Detroit horse race. AS IN HORSE POWER.
Hudson, with their reliance on the strait and safe straight six never saw them coming. As they say in racing circles, they got their doors blown off.