Nicky Hartery, who had been leading the Limerick plant’s onward march since 2000, got a blank refusal when he tried to secure extra investment for the Raheen facility.
Mike Cannon, who was hired by Michael Dell to make his global organisation leaner and meaner, would hear none of it.
Cannon’s gaze was on Poland, where Dell had completed a huge plant in the city of Lodz. To sweeten things, the Polish government gave the company a handout of €52.7 million.
The EU is investigating the legality of that decision.
To put the size of that one-off payment in context, the IDA had given Dell grants of €55m in staged payments since it opened in Limerick in 1991.
Having been turned down by Cannon, Waterford-born Nicky Hartery decided to call it a day and move on.
Mike Cannon has been relentless in casting his cold eye on Dell’s nine plants worldwide and is concluding a new deal to sell its factories to outside manufacturers, which will supply the Dell brand requirements.
Rivals Hewlett-Packard and IBM have already embraced this concept, known as original design manufacturing. Most Hewlett-Packard and IBM computers are now made by Asian manufacturers.
Dell began to lag behind other key players when Michael Dell stepped down as chief executive in March 2004. He put his friend Kevin Rollins in charge.
Under Rollins’s watch, share prices took a sharp dive. Michael Dell, then chairman, watched from the sidelines with alarm as Hewlett-Packard overtook his company as No 1 in the personal computer market.
In January 2007, Michael Dell had enough and took over again as chief executive. One month later, he announced the appointment of Mike Cannon as president of global operations. He was given one mission — cut costs. Cannon brought on board a team that went through all nine plants forensically, including Limerick. Now its global grand plan is ready to be rolled out next month.
The prospect of what that plan contains has shaken Limerick and the mid-west to the ground.