Training & Development
Brad created and implemented employee training and development programs for three major corporations:
Brad began the retail management program for the Adult Education program in San Jose (a large program of over 40,000 students). He was doing this while managing a menswear store and then working for Macy's. Brad taught courses in retail management, supervision, buying, starting a small business, and nutrition. He'd become an self-educated expert in the field of nutrition and had been asked by the Director of Curriculum to teach the first class offered in modern nutrition. The complete story of this event and the shudders it caused in educational circles can be found in his book, One Shovel Full.
When Brad Fregger created the Mervyn's in-house training department in 1975, the chain had grown to 24 stores and 135 million in sales. By 1978 when Mervyn's was acquired by Dayton Hudson, it had grown to 51 stores and 500 million in sales. By the time Brad left Mervyn's in 1981, the chain had grown to over 80 stores and almost a billion in sales, they were destined to be a nationwide chain within a few years.
While at Mervyn's, Brad had full responsibility for all store and distribution center training, including senior store management, department managers, store policy and procedures, orientations, cash terminal training, distribution center orientations, supervisory training, and conflict resolution in both stores and the distribution center. This included training for all personnel for the fifty stores that opened during his tenure as Mervyn's Training Manager.
He also worked extensively with Zenger Miller during this time, licensing the core Zenger Miller Supervisory Training Program for Mervyn's and rewriting it completely to fit the retail environment. This involved redoing all of the video vignettes so that the scenes reflected the situations that would exist in the typical Mervyn's store.
In addition, Brad had full responsibility for the in-house video production facility. During his time with Mervyn's he produced over fifty videos on subjects as varied as supervisory training, Blanket Sale kickoff, company orientation, bra fitting, scarf tying, and corporate communications. Their video production facility became known as one of the best retail video production facilities in the nation. Other retailers (i.e. Sears) had greater technical capability, but none created a greater variety of outstanding programming.
Programs produced included supervisory training, corporate orientation, customer service, register training, point of sale, and the annual Christmas message given by Mervin Morris and Jack Kilmartin, President of Mervyn's.
While working in store management for Mervyn's, Brad's background in adult education became known and he was asked to begin the corporate Training and Development department for this extremely successful department store chain. At the time Mervyn's had 24 stores, all in Northern California, but they were just on the brink of an expansion program that would ultimately result with expansion throughout the Western United States and beyond.
Brad's experience in starting Training and Development departments caught the eye of the management of a new company, Atari, and they asked him to come and begin their Training and Development program. Concerning this experience, Brad says, "I spent 5 years at Atari, from May of 1981 to December of '82....It sure felt like 5 years."
Atari was the fastest growing company in the history of the United States. As the originator of the video game and one of the world's first personal computers, Atari grew from zero sales in 1972 to a two billion dollar empire in just ten years. At the height of its success, Atari employed over 12,000 people the majority in the "Silicon Valley" in Sunnyvale, California.
Brad joined Atari with the express responsibility of starting the in-house training department. At that time the company had 4,500 employees, with projections that that would double within the next year. Brad's initial responsibilities included:
1) Develop an Atari orientation for all new employees that would facilitate their incorporation into the Atari culture.
2) Develop, or acquire, a Supervisory Training Program that would take a large group of inexperienced supervisors and turn them into effective members of the Atari management team.
Within sixty days of Brad's arrival, the corporate orientation program was giving over one hundred employees a week an effective and efficient introduction to Atari, its life and culture. Plus, a significant percentage of the employees were attending a communications seminar management had requested to improve communications throughout the organization.
Within six months, all company supervisors had either attended, or were scheduled to attend, a two-day supervisors' training workshop Brad had acquired and licensed from Zenger Miller.
Within one year, he had complete responsibility for all Atari training. During this time he designed and developed massive training programs covering areas like, employee orientation, management skills, conflict resolution, sales, manufacturing, supervisory training, effective hiring practices, and creativity, including special educational programs with the local community college and the University of Santa Clara. He also acted as a Training and Development consultant to the other Warner Companies. In addition, and in his spare time, Brad wrote Atari's mission statement...but, that's another story.
By Fall 1982, Brad's training organization had trained over 5,000 employees and was considered one of the best in the nation. The only employees at Atari not involved in Brad's training programs we're members of top management. It turns out they needed it the most...it was decisions at the very top that killed Atari...they also hold the record as the fastest company at down-sizing, within a couple of years after Brad's leaving, Atari was back down to under 500 employees and had sold off most of its major divisions. Brad has said about this experience, "Atari had the best middle management I have ever had the pleasure to work with. But, the opposite is true of most of its top management, right up to the president, a former rag merchant, who was a stubborn, arrogant man who couldn't be reasoned with. He alone was probably responsible for the corporate strategy that destroyed the video game industry...only to be revived (three years later) because of the persistence of Nintendo.
The third Training and Development program that Brad started was with Activision, a new, exciting computer games publisher. Another fast growing company, Activision began to struggle shortly after Brad's arrival because of the Atari situation, a problem they had no control over, and yet impacted them dramatically.
At Activision, Brad continued honing the training and development programs that he had done at both Mervyn's and Atari...with one obvious addition...Out Placement. Activision's problems ultimately resulted in the elimination of much of its staff, but the way they went about this became a model for other companies in the Silicon Valley. Jobs were found for 95% of the employees who chose to take part in Out Placement...it was one of the most successful programs of it's kind in history.
Speaker, author, and much more ...
All content, except space images, copyright Brad Fregger. Space photos courtesy of NASA.