Conglomorous Technologies had risen rapidly from the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, starting as a small enterprise in 1976, formed by a few businessmen out to profit from the stream of military contracts being offered by the federal governments Department of Defense. As the government began pumping more money into the defense industry in the early 1980s the organization grew like an enormous vine in every direction and as far as possible. It was the product of a unique period of time that offered a mixture of politics, geopolitical tension, technology and investment money that blended like sunlight, water and good soil to a plant. The corporation sprawled everywhere, determined limbs suddenly producing fruit here or there as new buildings were bought and floor space became available. It was an entity with a simple mandate for profit and growth, and similar to other small defense contractors that came to prominence at about the same time, its success became the interest of much larger corporations. The larger corporations wanted the high profits of the small companies and the unlimited potential for more. And with expensive analysts advising them, the large corporations bought up the small defense contractors based on the military contracts available then, and those that the future promised.
The original investors of Conglomorous Technologies sold out with glee. They reaped huge profits in cash and stocks, and many also stayed on as executives in the newly formed subsidiary of the larger corporation that bought them. Like most subsidiaries, Conglomorous Technologies kept its name, and many in Baltimore never knew that it had been sold. And though it was certainly an organization of people, Conglomorous Technologies was a huge, complex system that functioned with an intense drive for profit, growth and self-preservation. The new subsidiary of a Fortune 500 company must grow. To increase the price of their stock it must grow, to compete for bigger government contracts it must grow, to lure skilled workers away from other companies it must grow, and for the existing managers and executives to make their bonuses the corporation must grow. It was, after all, competing with so many other corporate entities just like itself. The company grew by winning government contracts, and later, by also buying smaller companies.
The government loved companies like Conglomorous Technologies because they provided the high-tech weapons that protected the country and looked so good during political campaigns. And unlike entitlement programs and foreign aid, much of the money spent on defense contracts came right back to the government in the form of payroll taxes from employees and in taxes imposed on the profits of the corporation. It was a perfect win-win arrangement.
The Baltimore/Washington area particularly enjoyed the rise of the defense contractors that sprang up around the city beltways. The companies provided the good-paying jobs that were necessary to support the growth and prosperity of the local economies. Even political liberals, at the local level, were secretly thankful for Conglomorous Technologies in spite of their national slogans and idealistic philosophies. Parents and guidance counselors encouraged teenagers to take technology majors in college and pursue degrees that could get them jobs at places like Conglomorous Technologies. Moms and dads proudly told friends when their children got job offers from one of the high-tech defense contractors. The cities needed the jobs and the taxes to grow and compete with other cities. Young men and women with their entire lives ahead of them needed the stable jobs with good salaries and benefits to begin planning their futures. And the job types were across the board. Business managers were needed and all of the financial people any company would normally have. Shipping and Receiving departments packed and mailed, and received and distributed packages like any other company, welders welded submarine doors made of complex alloys and technicians used huge wrenches on hydraulic/mechanical devices that lifted missiles into Air Force bombers. There was something for everyone, especially in electronics, the technological centerpiece of the era. Former television technicians assembled radar units and electronic engineering graduates studied the principles of electronic warfare. Around water coolers they discussed politics and football before going back to work on classified weapons systems.
Religious leaders were thankful for the stability and prosperity that corporations like Conglomorous Technologies brought to the area. It gave the people employment, and with the specter of the evil communist empire scheming across the Atlantic, there was certainly an enemy out there. The local churches prospered as people moved in with nice paychecks and a clean slate. The wages of Conglomorous Technologies were a source of charity and surely a sign of success and blessing for all.
Like all large companies, Conglomorous Technologies became a place where the religious and non-religious worked side by side in a common environment that both needed to survive. The situation was as accepted as breathing the same air and drinking the same water. As the company grew to seven thousand employees, the banks and nightclubs, churches and liquor stores were all grateful for Conglomorous Technologies. It provided a necessary component required for the peoples life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And though industries and companies had boomed and busted before, the defense industry and Conglomorous Technologies were both thought to be recession-proof. Conglomorous Technologies had gone boldly through most of the eighties, stomping and swaggering as it went.
But this was May of 1989, and the past suddenly didnt matter.
At eleven oclock the managers came out of their offices and began walking between the cubicles and desks, talking to their respective subordinates. Charles Gorhart came into Donald Berrys cubicle and stood next to his desk. Gorharts face was serious, his presentation practiced after giving it twice in the last few minutes.
Hey, Don, I wanted to discuss what the company did today....as most everybody knows, we had a layoff. Its something that we had to do because we just havent been getting the contracts like we used to. Gorhart paused and crossed his arms in front of his chest. We lost Al Milton, Frankie, Tammy and Bobby....it was about 350 across the company - about five percent. Engineering was hit less than most. We have to be more competitive now, but we also dont want to loose good people because they get scared and go somewhere else. Just hang in there and keep doing a good job like you always do. We dont anticipate any more of this. With that Gorhart tightened his lips and left the cube for his next stop, and Donald realized that he hadnt said one word back to his boss.