The next morning, Astrid was back at Plymouth Road. The first part of the tour was the factory floor where huge robotic arms, overseen by workers wearing white lab coats and yellow safety goggles, were assembling Hoverbikes. These flying scooters were still the original models.
“We’re keeping the art-deco outside, but in here, it’s all twenty-first century,” said Carl Maxxim proudly.
“How many hoverbikes come out of here?” wondered Astrid, seeing a mountain of crates being loaded onto railroad flat cars.
“Right now we’re running two shifts, and we’re averaging about one hoverbike every twenty seconds.”
“Amazing,” said the girl inventor. “But November sales were 92,000.”
“That’s right. The Rochester plant is up and running and making up the difference. Between the two of them, they can conceivably produce more than 250,000 per month, if we go to 24-hour production. If we need more, we could build them at the Lansing plant. It will be ready to go by February, though right now, I think we’ll be producing our cars there.”
“We have twenty-six facilities, right?”
“Yes, but some of them are fairly small. The Indianapolis plant just produces glass and the Toronto plant was the car battery factory. And before you say anything, it’s already being converted to produce LED lights.”
“I’m pretty impressed so far,” said Astrid.
“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” said Uncle Carl. “It’s time to hit the Auto R&D department. Ready for a ride to Toledo?”
“I didn’t know we had a plant in Toledo.”
“It’s not a plant; just a property that through a long series of purchases, foreclosures, and mergers came to be owned by National. Now we own it.”
“Speaking of properties,” said Astrid, on the way to Uncle Carl’s limousine. “What about this neighborhood?”
“We purchased the parking lot across the street. We sign the papers next week. We’ll make it look nice. Our own lot needs some tender loving care too. We’re going to completely redo that park, and since the city can’t really afford to keep it up, we’ll do it. I’m trying to buy out all the houses for three blocks in any direction. That’s slow going. Some of the owners are trying to gouge us, not that I blame them. Property values have been plummeting and along comes a big corporation willing to buy them out. The ones we do get, we’ll fix them up and lease them to our employees, with an option to buy.”
“Uncle Carl, I’m sorry.”
“About what, sweetie?”
“I’m sorry I never realized what a capable manager you are,” said Astrid. “How do you juggle all of this?”
“Easy. I hire very good people and when they bring me a good idea, I say ‘yes’.”