Lately, the general public has been fascinated with all the megamergers, takeovers, and the dramatic turnarounds of big companies that might have fallen on hard times.

It could be that this fascination is because of the complexity of these deals and the huge amount of money involved. However, I believe that more than likely what really grabs the public's interest is the people involved. This is because the media likes to glamorize one or two persons - usually financial types - and portray them as the masterminds behind these deals; geniuses, with the golden touch that can take hopeless situations and make them whole again and can take big companies and create huge empires.

Megamergers, takeovers, turnarounds, etc., take megabucks. These people rarely risk their own money but have good connections with big banks and institutions and have the knack to borrow the required funding. If everything works out, all these people make a lot of money, but nothing is created. There was a 15-year reunion of the Chrysler bailout held recently in New York. Most of the people invited were the bankers and other financial people involved at the time. The real people - the unsung heroes - the people that made the bailout possible, were not there. These are the people in any company that create a marketable product, produce it and sell it.

I know you need money for plants and equipment or to make capital improvements, but if you don't produce and sell a product, there's no return. A cost-cutter can come into a company and lay off 10,000 and he looks like a big hero. But the real magicians are the people who have to keep the company running while it's going through this upheaval. The company still has to create products, produce them and sell them. Managers still have to be concerned with budgets and controlling costs. People have to be motivated to increase their productivity, maintain a high level of quality control, and at the same time keep the sales effort on track. That's quite a task under normal circumstances, I'm sure you'll agree, let alone having to worry whether you still have a job the next day or not.

Don't be misled: people involved in takeovers are not interested in companies that are dysfunctional. They want companies that work, that have an organization capable of producing and selling products. It's like sports - the players determine the worth of a club. No one is going to buy a club for its general manager. It's the same in industry. The players are the design engineers, the stylists, the manufacturing engineers, the production people, the sales people, et. al. This is what determines the real worth of a company.

Stylists, designers and manufacturing engineers working together must come up with products four or five years in advance with features they think the public will accept, that are competitive, and that can be produced within the resources of the company. After this has all been decided, it then becomes the job of the production plant managers to put these plans into production. Not an easy task if you consider that plant managers could have a melting pot of 2,000 to 3,000 people made up of union people, hourly and salaried people, engineers, skilled trades, people in quality control, accounting etc. He has to be a jack of all trades, a motivator. He's responsible for launching the product on time, making production commitments, maintaining a high level of product quality, keeping all costs within budget or below. He must keep the plant running under all kinds of different conditions. If he fails, nothing goes out the door, and more importantly, no money comes in. Because of his place in the hierarchy, you'll never hear of him unless there's a strike or some other catastrophe involving his plant.

Then comes the sales people. They are on the front lines as far as the public and the dealers are concerned. The sales types have to get the message out to as many people as possible and yet stay within their advertising budget. They're the ones who have to deal with the dealers, who are always looking for more incentives, more advertising and more new products.

I've just talked about some of the main players; there are many more who determine the true value of a company. This is what the entrepreneurs look for in takeovers, mergers, and buyouts, and not the corporate managers or the financial whiz kids. As a matter of fact, usually when a company is purchased these are the people who are first to go.

Because of all the hoopla associated with takeovers, people become fascinated with money manipulators and lose sight of the unsung heroes: the people in the trenches who produce and sell the products.