Anyone who grew up in Palo Alto during the mid-60’s to late 70’s, most likely had a family member or knew someone who worked at Hewlett-Packard. My father worked at HP for 20 years, and adored the company and people he worked with. I was exposed to all the HP philosophies: “The HP Way”, “Management by Walking Around”, to name just a few. I also attended the annual picnic every year in Big Basin, where as a 10 year old, I achieved my only moment of fame: the only person to make 5 out of 5 free-throws all day. So I was the “star” of that picnic.
Everyone in Palo Alto knows the story how Hewlett-Packard started in a garage, moved to what became an antique store known as “Polly & Jake’s” and is now an AT&T store on the corner of El Camino and Page Mill in Palo Alto. They then proceeded to take over most of the hill and expand throughout the Bay Area, United States and around the World. Back then they made Scientific Instruments, which most of us can’t even fathom how they worked, let alone understand the purpose for their existence.
Times changed. New businesses came and went. Hewlett Packard now makes products that any one of us can use. They also have gone through some rough patches & changed many of their business practices. But, through it all, they are still the same company at their core.
Just recently my father’s HP watch, rewarded to employees when they retired during his tenure, was stolen. My 91 year-old father was devastated. He wore that watch every day for the last 35+ years. The watch symbolized his younger days, his accomplishments, and was a sense of pride. I called Hewlett-Packard to inquire about purchasing a replacement. Not so easy. They no longer reward retirees or anyone with a HP watch, nor do they even have a vendor to purchase one from.
So what did they do? Exactly what anyone growing up in Palo Alto when I did would expect them to do. They found a company that could make a similar watch with the HP logo. But it didn’t end there. The Vice-President of Human Resources and HP labs presented my father with the watch at Corporate Headquarters and they threw a lunch in his honor. That is “The HP Way”. A multi-national company that recognizes that their success is due to their employees and treats their employees like family (a non-dysfunctional family that is).
I can’t even express how thrilled my dad was. He will be speaking of this event for the rest of his days, and as always, remains proud to be part of a truly great company.
Thank you Hewlett-Packard and everyone who made this possible. Special shout-out and recognition to Mallory in HR and Sara in Media Relations.
With much gratitude, Lisa Levine