Six-Months Turnaround
Chapter 1

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Slow,

Desc: Sex Story: Chapter 1 - He was hired for six months to turn the company around. Getting there he found more than just a company, he found a lifetime commitment and love.

Clifford Fitzpatrick eased his car into the parking lot at the headquarters of Murphy Manufacturing Company in the outskirts of Milwaukee. He saw a parking place immediately adjacent to the building entrance with a newly-painted sign reading President and immediately below the title, C J Fitzpatrick. He pulled into the spot and parked.

Cliff Fitzpatrick was a trim six feet two with sandy brown hair and blue eyes. He looked like an athlete and moved like one. As he got out of the car, he looked down the row of what were obviously executive parking spaces and saw that most were still empty. It was eight-fifteen on a Monday morning in early April but Cliff was not surprised. Although he had been told that working hours at Murphy Manufacturing began at eight o'clock, the late arrival of executives was just one more sign of a general slackness in the operation.

Normally an early starter, Cliff had waited a few extra minutes this morning, his first at Murphy and his first as its president. He wanted to give the other people a chance to arrive before him. He noticed there was a row of signs similar to his own running down the line of preferred parking spaces. Clearly, the sequence of names was the corporate pecking order presented for all the world to see.

Cliff entered the building and was greeted by name by the receptionist. Obviously, she had been told to expect him and had been watching for him. Going up to the second floor, which served as the executive offices of the company, he went around to the corner where he knew his new office was. He found his secretary, Sandra Donnell, sitting expectantly at her desk awaiting his arrival.

She rose from her chair and held out her hand. "Good morning, Mr. Fitzpatrick. Welcome to Murphy Manufacturing!"

Cliff was surprised at the firmness of her grip. "Good morning, Miss Donnell, could you arrange for someone else to cover our phones for a while? I want to talk with you and I don't want us to be disturbed." While the girl made arrangements Cliff entered his office and sat down in the big chair behind the desk.

Cliff Fitzpatrick was thirty-two years old, five years out of Harvard Business School and two days out of Cumings & Company, one of the world's preeminent management consulting firms. He had accepted the position of president of Murphy while recognizing the risks. He had agreed with Ezra Stiles, the trustee of the Murphy estate, on specific performance objectives to be achieved by September 30 ... just six months away. At the same time he recognized that, had he been unwilling to accept the very ambitious targets he would not have been offered the position.

Cliff was relying on being able to make dramatic improvements in operations, even if not quite up to the objectives he had agreed to. Privately, he believed them to be unattainable, but he thought he could get close enough to have his contract renewed anyway.

He thought about the decision he had made. Murphy was in the Fortune second 500 in size with sales of about $500 million a year. It was an old-line automotive supplier with a good reputation in the industry. However, Cliff's investigation before taking the position showed conclusively — to him at least — that the company was in trouble. It was a victim of dry rot on the inside. The numbers were all trending in unpleasant directions although the trends were not yet apparent to the outside.

He reminded himself that he had an appointment with a securities analyst from Chicago who was scheduled to visit him on Friday. Cliff suspected that the analyst who claimed to follow Murphy had noticed the trend in the numbers. He knew it would take some fast talking to avoid a very negative report which would be followed by a sharp drop in Murphy's stock price. Because of the ownership position of the Murphy estate — about 65 percent of the shares — the stock did not qualify for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange and so was traded on the American Stock Exchange instead.

Cliff was a man in a hurry. He recognized that the odds against a successful turnaround — achieving the promised operating results in just six months — were very high. Weighing against those odds, though, were two other factors. First, he had saved some money while he was with Cumings, and had received a big jump in salary — to $200,000 a year — when he joined Murphy. Second, there was Stephanie Simpson. Stephanie was the beautiful dark-haired daughter of George Simpson, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and largest individual shareholder of Ajax Industries, Inc.

When they were together in bed Saturday night, she again tried to get him to refuse the Murphy position and join Ajax instead. He was madly in love with Stephanie — or thought he was — so he could not really sort out his feelings. From the first time he mentioned to her that he was thinking of leaving Cumings and going into private industry, she had been after him to join Ajax as a staff vice president. He reflected that she had almost run through the full gamut of her emotions as she tried to persuade him, stopping just short of rage.

Cliff examined the relationship he enjoyed with this beautiful girl who had a successful career of her own in public relations, although, he admitted, she was working on the Ajax account. She was five feet six inches tall with dark hair and a voluptuous figure. He reflected that she was soft all over. Occasionally, as a great favor she would permit him to share her bed as she had on Saturday night.

Thinking about the offer from Ajax, Cliff decided that it was more a gift to a prospective son-in-law than a real job. He didn't like the idea of being a kept man, even though Stephanie had been introducing him to her friends as her fiancé.

Cliff wanted to make it on his own in a company he was running. He recognized that only the problems at Murphy, coupled with his performance objectives and the very short time horizon to reach them, had made this opportunity possible. He was objective enough about his position to know that the situation he faced was the only one in which an ex-consultant with no direct management experience would have possibly been considered. Well, Cliff thought, there was my time as Gunnery Officer on a destroyer. That was managing something. Murphy with its eight hundred employees was only his second shot.

Cliff looked at Sandra Donnell as she entered his office. She was a tall girl — about five feet eight, he thought — with a lovely face and a very trim figure. She was conservatively dressed in a tweed skirt and a loose fitting beige sweater worn with a single strand of pearls. The tan color set off her hair which was a lovely shade of auburn. He noticed that she did not have the very fair complexion that normally accompanied the hair color. In fact she had a tan suggesting she had vacationed in the sun recently. She had her stenographic notebook with her and took a seat next to his desk. Her pencil was poised for dictation.

"Do you go by Sandra, Sandy, or something else?"

Startled, she looked up and then smiled, "My friends call me Sandy."

"May I call you Sandy, then? And I would appreciate it if you would call me Cliff. I'm used to informality even though I gather it's not the style here at Murphy. In fact, I haven't encountered such formality since I worked on a consulting assignment for an old-line insurance company. There — if you can believe it — even in internal memos an executive was referred to as 'Assistant Secretary Smith'."

"Of course you may," she replied with a quick smile. "And you're right. Things have become rather formal around here lately. I haven't been here that long myself on a full-time basis, but I gather things were more informal when Mr. Murphy was still active in the company. I hope you don't mind, but I scheduled a staff meeting for you at ten in the board room to meet the senior executives. Do you have some dictation for me?"

"No, Sandy, I don't. I want to level with you. This is going to sound strange since we only really met a few minutes ago..." Then he remembered. "But you were present when I met with Mr. Stiles, weren't you?"

She smiled, and he noticed again how her smile lighted up her face. He also noticed laugh lines suggesting that she smiled often. "I was here hiding in the corner. I'm surprised you even noticed me. I never did learn why Mr. Stiles wanted me to be in the room, though."

"At any rate, I'm the stranger around here and I need all the help I can get. Sandy, let's be honest. If you don't like me, you can cut my throat ... or rather, just watch as I cut my own. I have several changes in mind, beginning right now. I would like to sound you out first and get your thoughts on the probable company reaction. Would you mind?"

Sandy looked a bit skeptical. "That wouldn't make me a spy, would it?" she asked.

"I certainly hope not!" he retorted. "I just want your opinion. I have the feeling that you know a lot about this place. Am I right? After all, you have been the president's secretary for quite a while, haven't you?"

"Yes, sir. I worked for poor Mr. MacDougal for three years after I got out of school. Is the staff meeting at ten o'clock okay?"

"That's fine. Now, some basics: First, where does a guy go for coffee around here?"

Sandy reddened. "I'm sorry, sir! I forgot to ask if you wanted any. Mr. MacDougal ended the coffee service on the executive floor over a year ago. I think someone spilled coffee on some business papers or something. But I could get some for you from the cafeteria if you would like?"

"Why don't we both just take a walk? I never did have much of a chance to look around." He smiled and added, "But you're going to have to lead. I don't have the foggiest idea where things are around here yet."

As they walked through the building, Sandy pointed out the executive dining room. They stopped and he looked inside. It was really quite elegant, paneled floor to ceiling in oak. There were a number of tables and what was obviously a head table placed across the end of the room.

"Your place is at the center of the head table as you probably guessed," she said blandly.

"Who operates the dining room? Company employees?"

"No, sir. There's an outside caterer who is supposed to be quite good. His people operate the whole thing. The company people who used to run it before the renovation — the ones who are left from Mr. Murphy's time — are now down in the employees' cafeteria. That's where we're headed."

They entered the cafeteria which was off the factory floor. The first thing Cliff noticed was all the noise from the plant floor spilling through the paper-thin walls. The second was how rundown everything looked. Some of the people were valiantly trying to clean but without great success. Sandy introduced him to Janet Simmons, the manager. Mrs. Simmons was a strikingly handsome woman who seemed out of place in the cafeteria. She shook hands and welcomed him to Murphy.

Sandy seemed a bit embarrassed to have Cliff with her. "I'm sorry, Janet, but Mr. Fitzpatrick insisted on coming with me. I didn't have a chance to warn you we were on our way."

Cliff didn't say anything but was puzzled by the comment. He bought four coffees and insisted on carrying them back upstairs while Sandy opened doors. When they returned to his office and closed the door, he looked at the girl and said, "I did something wrong, didn't I? I can see it in your eyes. What was it?"

"Cliff, that wasn't nice to Janet. You embarrassed her."

"I'm sorry. But what did I do?" he asked contritely.

Sandy smiled at him and grimaced. "You didn't do anything. I did something. I had promised that I would warn Janet if any executives headed towards the cafeteria. You see, she managed the executive dining room before the caterer came in. She's more than a little upset about meeting you under these conditions."

She looked at him steadily and then continued, "While we're on the subject, you have just seen a union grievance: The union doesn't think it's right for the executives to eat subsidized meals while the workers who make much less than they do have to pay full price."

"I don't think it's right either. Is it true?"

Her eyes were downcast, but he saw her briefly nod. Her head came up, she looked up at him and replied, "Actually, its truer than they know. The executives pay one dollar apiece for their lunches. I think the company's direct subsidy is about ten dollars apiece, and that doesn't cover the maintenance of the dining room or kitchen."

Cliff again noticed how tall she was. He was used to towering over women, but wearing her pumps she was only a few inches shorter than he. "Sandy, I said at the beginning I wanted to use you as a sounding board. Here comes the first idea: This company is in tough shape. But working here, I'm sure you already know that."

Sandy looked like she was about to protest, but then merely nodded. "Things are not too good," she reluctantly agreed.

"We're agreed on that, anyway. Now, if we're going to get this company turned around at all — let alone within the six-month period I agreed to in my contract — everybody has got to pull his weight. We can't afford grievances, and frankly, I can't afford prima donnas in the executive suite either. I gathered from your comment that executives are rare on the factory floor?"

"Rare?" she exclaimed. "I'm not sure how many of them could find the factory floor. As far as the cafeteria is concerned, forget-about-it! That's strictly for the peons."

"Do you eat there, Sandy?" he asked quietly.

Her chin came up and she looked right at him. "Yes, I do. I used to bring my lunch and most of the other secretaries on this floor still do. But when Janet was kicked out of the dining room and booted downstairs, I started eating there. The food's surprisingly good, by the way."

"Great! Tell Mrs. Simmons I'll be eating lunch there today."

"You're going to do what?"

"I'm eating in the cafeteria. What's the big deal? Since we're closing the executive dining room as soon as the contract can be canceled, there's no sense in getting used to the food. Who looks after the contract, by the way?"

"Mr. Purcell. That's Charles Purcell, the treasurer," she replied, trying vainly to choke off a giggle.

"What's so funny?" he asked, puzzled.

"I was just wondering what he is going to do all day without his dining room to fuss over. The secretaries joke about him living on the phone with the caterer planning menus. The joke among the girls is the reason we're charged so much for the executive meals is Purcell takes so much of the caterer's time, the poor man can't get any other work done." She stopped giggling, and tried to look repentant. "I'm sorry. That was a very nasty thing to say."

"Probably true, though." He grinned at her and she smiled back. "Now, the second thing: Who takes care of the parking lot and space assignments?"

"Plant operations, I think." She suddenly looked horrified. "Is there a problem with your space? They didn't misspell your name, did they? I typed it in all capital letters so they would be sure to get it right!"

"They got it absolutely right. That's not the problem. I want you to write a memo for my signature. You can bring copies to the staff meeting. Effective at midnight tonight, there will be no assigned spaces for anyone. I want all of the executive signs removed by the end of the day today. There will be a number of handicapped spaces, but all the rest will be regular spaces. If an executive feels the need to have a space close to the entrance, he can arrive early enough to get one. It seems that the parking lot is far larger than the number of cars in it. There is no space shortage, is there?"

She looked at him quizzically. "You're serious, aren't you? You are really going to eliminate the reserved executive spaces? Except yours, of course." Sandy almost jumped at his reaction. She instantly saw steely overtones in his blue eyes. He's mad! she thought. Oops! I really put my foot in it.

"There are no exceptions! Particularly not me. Now, what do you think?"

"How important are the executives to making your plans work?" she asked, avoiding a direct answer to his question.

"Very important. Vital, in fact! However, I'm assuming that the guys who are focused on making the business work don't give a damn about parking spaces. The guys who do care have to be question marks ... at best."

He reflected for a moment and then continued, "I met the chairman of a Fortune 100 corporation at his headquarters in New York. His office was up high — about the fortieth floor — with a view across to New Jersey and up to the George Washington Bridge. He said his problem was 'there are too damned many people in this organization looking inside, and not nearly enough looking outside.'

"To him, the inside-outside metaphor was simple: 'Outside' included the customers, competitors, and markets. 'Inside' was the zingy memo, the pithy comment in the staff meeting ... that sort of thing. Inside activities cost money, they don't make money. You don't make money inside. Did I answer your question? The damned dining room and reserved parking spaces are inside activities at their worst."

She smiled at him and pretended to size him up. Although she was playacting, she knew she liked what she saw and had from the first time she had seen him. Finally she said, "I guess you're strong enough. Do you want me to see if I can borrow a hardhat for you to wear? There are going to be a few guys coming in here screaming with blood in their eyes. Do you want me to get rid of them for you?"

Now it was his turn to regard her speculatively. "You would, wouldn't you? You would take all that heat? What in hell for?"

"Because," she replied quietly, "it's my job. A good executive secretary is supposed to take heat off her boss, not add to it."

"Thank you," he said, simply. "I'm sure you could and would, and I certainly appreciate the thought. This time, though, I want to see how the guys who scream operate. I'll see them myself. One more thing: our working relationship. What time do you arrive and what time do you leave at night? I did hear Miss Donnell, didn't I?"

"It's Miss" she confirmed. "I try to arrive before you do so I can get things organized, and I normally leave just a little after you. What hours do you plan on working, Mr. Fitzpatrick?"

"It's Cliff, and now you're creating a problem for me. I normally get in early and stay until all hours. It's my consulting background, I guess. We used to say we were paid to work, not to sleep. Besides, the joke among the associates was that if you didn't work at least eighty hours, the firm couldn't make any money. You worked eighty, but only charged forty to clients. That was to ensure clients got their money's worth."

He grinned and then continued, "Anyway, what are we going to do? Why don't you plan on leaving no later than five-thirty? How's that?"

"We'll see," she answered, smiling enigmatically. "Is there anything else?"

"Yes. Your steno pad," he said.

She looked at her pad, turned it over, looked puzzled and looked up at Cliff. "It's an ordinary steno pad. What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing at all if you like taking notes in it. But I have a problem with my dictation. Could we try some?"

Sandy's pencil was poised over the pad as Cliff started to dictate a series of notes and short letters to friends telling them about his new job. He watched her pencil fly across the pad. Since one of his consulting skills was his ability to read upside down, he could see that Sandy was using a form of self-developed speedwriting and was barely keeping up with him. When he stopped dictating abruptly, she blew a stray strand of hair out of her eye and looked at him. He could see a faint look of chagrin in her eyes ... and hurt.

"I apologize, Sandy. That was cruel and unkind. I think you're an outstanding secretary. How fast do you take shorthand? Honestly."

She grinned. "An apology is uncalled for. You caught me out. I guess I can manage 100 words a minute or so. I faked the test years ago at 140 or something stupid like that."

"Do you know why you function so brilliantly as a secretary?" he asked. She just shook her head. "First, I'll bet you handle the important parts of your job very well. As for dictation, it divides basically into three groups: letters that should never be dictated at all, those that can't be dictated, and junk. I was just dictating junk.

"The first category are really form letters. The person dictating is saying essentially the same thing over and over. A smart secretary just notes down the variables and sticks them in her standard letter. If her words aren't exactly what her boss dictated, he doesn't know the difference. And hers are probably better, anyway.

"The material that shouldn't be dictated would be something like a plan document. Since so much thought is required, the biggest problem the secretary faces is trying to stay awake between words. Shorthand? You could probably write that stuff in calligraphy, complete with curlicues. Do you, by the way?"

Her head was down, but he saw her nod vigorously while she went back through the pages of her steno pad. With her head still down, she held up a page of beautiful calligraphy.

"Finally, Sandy, there's the junk I just gave you. If I ever do send out such drivel, we'll either set up a form letter or I'll just give you a list of names and addresses and ask you to compose one. Dictating is a colossal waste of time! Does what I've been saying make any sense to you?"

Sandy raised her head, and Cliff laughed. It was obvious that she had been giggling and then laughing hard, while trying to control herself. "That was unfair!" she said with a grin. "It's absolutely true, but unfair. Bosses aren't supposed to know things like that!"

"Sandy, there are two people I would like to see quickly. The first is whoever runs our systems unit. Who is he, and is he any good?"

"His name is Kevin O'Rourke. He's young, but I think he's very good. He's one of the guys who isn't listened to much around here but I think he's got a real contribution to make. Why?"

"Can you get him in here? Now?"

"Just a moment. I'm sure I can."

She picked up the phone on Cliff's desk and dialed a number from memory. When it was answered, she told the other party that Mr. Fitzpatrick wanted to see Mr. O'Rourke in his office at once. A few moments later there was a knock on the door. Sandy opened it, intending to leave the two men alone, but Fitzpatrick called her back saying she was involved in the meeting.

"Hi, Kevin, I'm Cliff Fitzpatrick. I'm delighted to meet another Irishman. But then the place seems to be lousy with them. On the other hand, with the name, Murphy Manufacturing, I guess it comes with the territory."

They shook hands, and Cliff told Kevin he wanted one personal computer installed in his office and one for Sandy. If they shared a processor, it was okay, but not essential. He wanted a system in which they could each access and work on the same set of files.

"I do my own correspondence in my own inimitable style. With this system, when Miss Donnell reads what I wrote and tries to translate it into English, I won't have to listen to her laugh at me from across the desk. Can you get a big IBM system with lots of hard disk storage and RAM?"

Kevin nodded. "Can do. They have several very good systems. I assume you know how to use it from consulting days. But what about software?"

Cliff told him what he wanted, and then asked Sandy, "Do you have experience with computers, Miss Donnell?"

"Yes, and I need WordPerfect software for word processing, and I think we ought to have a laser printer if we're going for a powerful system. Can we do that, Mr. Fitzpatrick?"

The deal was set, and O'Rourke said he would try to have it installed in the afternoon. He would check with suppliers, but thought the units would be available from stock.

"Now, who else did you want to see?" Sandy asked. "You only have a few minutes until the staff meeting."

"Murphy is a union company. Who's the president of the union local, and how long would it take to get him up here? I would like to meet him before the staff meeting if it's possible."

The union president, Max Kaufman, appeared within a few minutes, still wiping his hands with a rag after coming up from the shop floor. Cliff introduced himself and told Kaufman about closing the executive dining room and eliminating assigned parking spaces. Finally, he said that he hoped they would be able to work together.

However, he indicated one concern: "Mr. Kaufman, the most important problem we may have to face is work rules. I don't care very much about the hourly wage rate, or some other things like hours, vacations and so forth. But I care a great deal about work rules. I need the flexibility to reassign and realign jobs if we're going to get this company moving again. I'll want to meet with you and your people to discuss ideas before any changes are made, of course. And with your knowledge of what really happens on the shop floor, I'm sure you and your people can improve on our ideas. Can we work together?"

Kaufman, a burly man who appeared to be in his middle fifties, looked at Fitzpatrick carefully. "Mr. Fitzpatrick, I certainly hope so. We had great relations with Mr. Murphy, but since he died things have really gone downhill." Then, changing the subject, he asked, "Do you have any plans for the cafeteria?"

"Yes, I do, Mr. Kaufman. Renovations will begin as soon as possible, possibly as soon as this afternoon. The first thing to do is to put sound insulation in so we're not eating in a machine shop. And could I meet you for lunch today, by the way? I can eat whenever it's convenient for you."

Kaufman stuck out his hand. "You sure can, Mr. Fitzpatrick! I eat at noon, if that's okay with you?" They agreed on the time, and Cliff looked at his watch. Kaufman went back to work, leaving Cliff and his secretary alone again.

"Sandy, there's one more thing. I hate to admit it, but I have the world's lousiest memory for names. It's a hell of a thing for an ex-consultant to say. I would like you to join me in the staff meeting and make a little chart for me with the names of the people matching where they're seated. Also, I would like you to keep your eyes open for reactions. Will you do that?"

She agreed with a little grin on her face and they walked together towards the board room.

Chapter 2 »

Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Consensual / Romantic / Heterosexual / Slow /