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Steve Jobs' Failure Helped 3Com's Success

Today’s New York Times covered Steve Jobs’ desire to manufacture in Fremont, California. Ultimately the Macintosh factory was closed in 1992, due to production volumes that didn’t come soon enough. Jobs had already left Apple in 1985 to found NeXT computer and started on a state of the art manufacturing facility in 1990. He attracted Hewlett Packard heavy weight manufacturing executives and managers such as Randy Heffner, Kevin Canty and many more. Similar to the fate of the Macintosh factory, the $10 million NexT factory also didn’t reach scale and was shut down in 1993.

Enter 3Com. Randy, Kevin and many other NeXT manufacturing experts ended up at 3Com. and replicated some of the NeXT leading edge manufacturing ideas. We cover Randy’s story of dealing with Steve Jobs and Ross Perot, an early investor at NeXt prior to Randy's move to 3Com, and how Doug Spreng, the adapter division's leader had to wait for Steve Jobs to release Randy to come to 3Com. Randy and his team built world class 3Com manufacturing plants around the globe that helped create the secret sauce for 3Com’s dominance in the Ethernet adapter market during the 1990s.

Sitting in coffee shops with 3Com alumn - Left to Right - Randy Heffner,, 3Com's SVP Manufacturing Operations, Kevin Canty, VP Manufacturing.

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