Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Upper Deck Closes Facility?

I got this email from an "Anonymous Upper Deck Employee" today, and Im not quite sure what to make of it. It seems like there may be some layoffs and/or closings, and there may also be problems in getting the company's workload distributed. I have a feeling that this particular person is angry that they have to be a part of the current atmosphere, and is sending this email to show their disappointment. Maybe I am reading too much into this, I have no idea. Here is what I received:

Hey Gellman,

Thought you might like to hear about this news for your blog:


February 17, 2009

To All U.S. Upper Deck employees:

As all of you are aware, the weakening economy and rising costs have produced sharp decreases in consumer spending, including for our products. We, therefore, must implement additional cost reduction measures in order to maintain our financial stability.

The following cost reduction initiatives will be implemented:

The Company will close the Nevada facility no later than September 30, 2009 and will relocate certain functions to Carlsbad. During the next several weeks the Company will finalize departmental transition plans. Some departments will be relocated prior to the facility closure. [...]

[...]
The decision to make cost reductions that directly affect our employees is a very difficult one. We value the commitment and hard work that each of you have dedicated to building this company; however, we believe that these cost reductions are crucial to our overall financial stability.
[...]

Thank you for your continued commitment and hard work.

Sincerely,
Richard McWilliam


It was announced yesterday afternoon. The memo has more to say about future initiatives; interesting yet weird & disapointing.

so if you thought things were bad before, you haven't seen anything yet! Good luck getting anything done while things are being transfered from one state to another and nobody cares in either state. The Nevada guys know they will be laid off and Carlsbad is already overworked and can't handle those new duties on top of it.

Gosh, and none of the 43 VPs are getting laid off, what a surprise! In Vegas, you had customer service, quality assurance, accounting, sales support and warehousing (for everything but cards). Lots of good people going for corporate greed and profit margin.

Sad day

Thank you for safeguarding my anonymity.


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I think this could be a sign of what may be to come, I know I am not surprised. I emailed Gregg for comment, I am sure I will be forced to take this down pretty soon, so be advised.

Still, pretty interesting, and hopefully the employees involved will have luck in finding a new position. Layoffs are always very tough to deal with, and I feel for the people who are affected. Regardless of your feelings for UD, people losing jobs is never something to celebrate.

34 comments:

  1. Eesh, though I guess not entirely surprising giving the economic climate.

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  2. So, does this mean that I will be waiting even longer to receive the 8 gazillion redemption cards that Upper Deck owes me?

    Awesome. And the crappy gets crappier.

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  3. True or fake, this is happening in pretty much every corporation in America. Lay off a bunch of people, overwork the ones who are left, and the 43 VPs get to keep their bonuses. Hell, they get a bigger bonus for making the quarterly report look good. Meanwhile the douchecunts in Congress are arguing over how much of our money to give to their pals from Harvard who now work in the Finance sector. So if it's true, I'm not surprised.

    Our company already did all this stuff over the last two years, capping it off with layoffs last October. I feel for anyone getting laid off right now when there's hundreds of thousands of other people in the exact same position. How the hell are people transferred from Nevada going to sell their houses when the housing market has collapsed over there? Ugh. Bummer. Hang in ther Upper Deck dudes...

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  4. No one can force you to take this down man. It's called freedom of the press.

    But anyway, I honestly feel that if Upper Deck went under it would be good for trading cards. People could again realize the important things in life and stop spending so much unnecessary money on products that never give their worth back. Trading cards have gotten too complicated, yet the companies wonder why they are losing money. For one, stop paying thousands of dollars for retired players' jerseys that no one cares about anymore. For two, stop buying expensive cut signatures because soon enough that isn't even going to be that exciting. And thirdly, start to think about quality again for Christ's sake.

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  5. No one said UD was going under, first of all.

    Secondly, if UD went down, none of the things you mention after would happen.

    "People could again realize the important things in life and stop spending so much unnecessary money on products that never give their worth back."

    If one is collecting just to get "worth back" they will end up disappointed. People collect what they like, and I for one, will continue to collect even if the hobby stops.

    Trading cards have gotten too complicated, yet the companies wonder why they are losing money.

    They are far from "complicated." Companies are losing money because people have less disposable income to spend, so dealers are buying less, etc. Also, players are charging more for autos, and people wont buy products without them, so a vicious circle has been born. It has nothing to do with complication of the sets.

    For one, stop paying thousands of dollars for retired players' jerseys that no one cares about anymore.

    Wrong. Believe it or not, this is the least of their problems. People do care, for one thing, and secondly, this is not as much of an issue due to the rising costs of autos. Jerseys last companies a longer time than I ever expected, and I dont think it contributes as much as you think. Besides, it will happen regardless of UD's place in the biz.

    For two, stop buying expensive cut signatures because soon enough that isn't even going to be that exciting.

    Cuts are relatively cheap to produce, if you look at the way they are purchased, and usually they are not that plentiful. Just because they are not interesting to you, does not mean that thousands of others clamor for them. Either way, it will continue with or without UD.

    And thirdly, start to think about quality again for Christ's sake.

    Agreed. 100%.

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  6. Anybody who has read "Card Sharks" or who follows the business side of the hobby knows that Upper Deck is managed incredibly poorly. I doubt anybody will be crying too hard if Richard McWilliam becomes destitute!

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  7. I love upperdeck for how quick they've filled my redemptions, I hope this wont affect the ones I just redeemed...

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  8. well this doesnt seem that surprising, considering that people arent buying as many cards as even last year. just look at ebay and see the prices for the top rookies compared to last year...its clear people just dont have the money to spend.

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  9. btw are we randoming teams for Exquisite today?

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  10. just look at ebay and see the prices for the top rookies compared to last year...its clear people just dont have the money to spend.

    ...or that this year's rookie crop doesn't have the same mystique and/or hype as last year's overall.

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  11. ...or that this year's rookie crop doesn't have the same mystique and/or hype as last year's overall.

    That is it 100%. Most of the top rookies werent at the top until late in the season. Couple that with generally bad economic situations and you have the situation as of now.

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  12. Look at what Upper Deck has lost in the last 30 days. YuGiOh was their biggest brand and biggest money maker. NBA is with Panini Oct 1st, 2009. MLB is back to normal with Topps being strong this year. NFL is luke warm anymore. NHL is a small community. Their entertainment titles are week. World of Warcraft hasn't grown to be the phenom it is on the web.

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  13. I think this years rookies are way way better than 2007s crop.

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  14. I think we're going to see consolidation everywhere from the number of products card companies produce to the number of magazines that Beckett will produce.

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  15. Upperdeck will be gone by year's end. They have made some nefarious deals, and are going to pay the piper so to speak. Pannini will buy Donruss, and get the Baseball license...

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  16. SO donruss, the company that just screwed the MLB up the pooper will get the baseball license by being taken over by a company that is internationally based? I doubt it.

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  17. haha pannini getting a baseball license?? I think they will be lucky to still in the basketball market in 3 years when they begin producing cards minus the big names that are upper deck exclusive...

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  18. That's why I said IF Upper Deck goes under...

    And to say trading cards aren't complicated is ridiculous. Can you name me every base set produced this year without looking? Doubt it. Can you explain all the different tiers in all those sets with multiple parallels without checking? Doubt it. Upper Deck's parallels are some of the complicated issues put out on a year to year basis. Just at all the nonsense in your Exquisite box break post. You pull a certain card, it could take five or so minutes to figure out what it is. Is this not complicated?

    I'm not saying Topps isn't to blame either because they have many issues themselves with complicated sets (Sterling, Triple Threads, etc.).

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  19. Let's face facts - card collecting is for fun, or at least it should be. So the impact that this will have on products or our choices in the hobby isn't the big issue.

    The big issue is those people who are losing their jobs - compared to this the number/quality of cards produced is unimportant. My heart goes out to those people whol will lose jobs.

    As the post notes, while ordinary employees are being laid off, the VPs and other executives haven't been affected. To stop this from happening, or at least to make it so that the executives feel some pain too, two things should be legislated (not just in the US, but other countries to - especially Australia. A bank over here, who has a projected profit this financial year of over $3 billion dollars laid off 1,000 workers before Christmas due to the impact the financial crisis was having on their business. I kid you not):

    1. When ordinary employees are laid off, executives should be laid off. If a company needs to cut costs, what better way than laying off the some of the highest paid people in the company. If less than 40% of the workforce is laid off, then double the number of executives should be. For example if 30% of the workforce is laid off, 60% of the executives should eb laid off. From 40% onwards there should be a sliding scale so that the number of executives laid off increases as the number of employees laid off increases.

    2. The same salary of those remaining executives should be drecreased by the same percentage of their workforce laid off. So again, if 30% of the workforce is laid off, the salary of the remianing executives should be cut by 30% - and this cut salary should be capped for a specific number of years, again on a sliding scale: 1% to 10% of the workforce, 3 year cap, 11% to 20% pf the workforce, 4 year cap, 21% to 30%, 5 year cap and so on. Again, if a company needs to cut costs to stay competitive, this should ahppen by cutting the salaries of the highest paid, who can also afford it most.

    Now I know that many might think this is stupid. But why is it that only ordinary employees should suffer? Why not the executives who, let's face it, are more likely to be responsible for business porblems due to poor decisions? There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that allows people with less responsibility for a companies poor performance and the least capacity to deal with financial loss to suffer, while those who are more responsible for a companies poor performance and can bear the financial loss get off scott free.

    Now some people may say that one can't (or shouldn't) legislate around how a business operates. But the fact is this already happens - legislation stops business from (legally) selling crack or using child labor. Why? Because it isn't in the public interest to have this done, in the same way it isn't in the public interest to have executives laying off staff while none of them are laid off and their salaries continue to increase.

    Secondly, some may argue that such legilsation would negatively impact upon the quality of exectives in companies. Howver look at the current financial crisis - it has been caused by these same executives who are still reaping huge salaries. The fact is that these executives don't have the interest of their companies (or the public) at heart, only their hip-pocket. The quality just isn't there anyway, so things can't get worse.

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  20. call me Karnack but I see it coming. The MLB suit was filed only because it had to be. Pannini can offer more money and a larger market share than US based companies. If you know the full story of Upper Deck, backdooring products, screwing over licenseies(?, etc. you could easily see this as a real possibility. The NBA took 50% more money from Pannini than Topps and Upper Deck offered combined, and, with a long history and strong market share, they (Pannini/Donruss) could be real players in the industry for years to come. Think of the WBC possibilities, for a Pannini owned Donruss baseball product.

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  21. "I think they will be lucky to still in the basketball market in 3 years when they begin producing cards minus the big names that are upper deck exclusive..."

    If Upper Deck stops doing basketball or goes out of business, those "big names" will no longer be "upper deck exclusive." Sorry Lebron.

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  22. Doesn't matter cause in 2012 the world will end and my cards will be the only thing that survives. LOL. Seriously though, the way the economy is.....well....we're all screwed.

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  23. From the perspective of a 2008 layoff victim, UD has the worst communicating managers I ever worked for. Speed is now valued over quality by management, which affects product. Recurring rookie mistakes from untrained newbies pissed off the NBA. Everyone is in a cubicle so no fresh ideas can be shared,if you speak to a fellow employee in some departments, you are slapped and thrown back in your cell. Millions of dollars have been wasted on moving employees and buying equipment that was sorely underused and phased out. All OLD Chiefs and fewer and fewer Indians.

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  24. Has anyone out there worked for a large corporation? Is anyone reading the newspapers? IF this cutback is true, it is a death throe. Beginning of the end. (BTW We just experienced a TERRIBLE instance of Upper Deck quality control problems for a 2009 product, and will post the specifics soon.) By 2012 the main card companies will be Topps and Panini.

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  25. Upper Deck has a Customer Service Department?

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  26. Alex,
    You have no clue. Take the smartest people in your company and cut them two times the amount of laborers? That company would not a single dime after that. We should all be thankful he isn't making these decisions.

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  27. RE: perspective of a 2008 layoff victim - speed over quality (...and it shows). you have obviously worked there!

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  28. I'm curious to know if this is in fact true. And if it is true, whoever posted this, i hope they are one of the people getting laid off.

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  29. So many bitter voices on this topic! You are all entitled to your opinions, weither or not they are based on facts, direct exposure, experience or pure emotions. But try not to get it twisted.

    We know the economy is struggling and many of us are sturggling with it. However nefarious you'd make out Upper Deck to be, one thing it isn't is uncaring or foolish. It is almost impossible to be objective about layoffs and "rightsizing" but try not to take it personally. The company is doing what it needs to surive the current and projected economic forcasts. Don't think for one moment that there is some secret VP club where money is no object - this is a business, not a day care center. So grow up.

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  30. The person who posted this memo and the other bashers obviously do not care about the people facing the daunting task of finding a job, but also those employees remaining who must find a way to keep going thru adversity. Good people have been lost from not only UD but I am sure Topps as well yet they will hopefully continue to provide great product. Who knows what will happen with an Italian Donruss. I for one do not like the idea of Panini Basketball and hope that MLB,NFL and NHL will understand that competition - American competition - will be good for all of us. NBA obviously missed that boat. We need them as much as they need us.

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  31. From experience and being in one of the layoff waves...two words fit...boiler room.

    We all witnessed this first hand...nothing is surprising anymore. I have never seen people let go so abruptly, even long before the new year. Plenty of double talk and deception, even before the financial crisis. Super agressive management style with a Three Stooges type of approach. Prison like mentality...inmates have no rights. It would be a comedy if it wasn't real.

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  32. Today -- March 11th 2010 -- Upper Deck laid off over half the (remaining) company...

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