After his informative meeting with the executive director for military production, Ves became more aware of the KNG's importance in the Republic's war apparatus.
"Bentheim's industrial capacity is enormous." Charlie Rosen stated at the close of his presentation. "During our wars against the Vesians, every company has to do their part. While a mech manufacturer is already helping the Republic's economy by continuing their commercial activities, in many cases the state needs more direct assistance. The Kadar-Neyvis Group is proud to partner up with several military mech regiments and do our part in keeping them supplied with mechs and supplies!"
"That is a very admirable sentiment, Mr. Rosen." Ves nodded in apparent appreciation. "On behalf of the Mech Corps, we hope to continue our fruitful cooperation."
In the next couple of days, Jeff brought him to visit the KNG's design complex. Located in the outskirts of Dorum away from the hustle and bustle of the center of the city, the design complex exuded an academic mood. The mech designers who worked here all enjoyed the complex's rich greenery, peaceful parks and various recreational activities.
"Our bosses always state that designing mechs is a creative job." The relations manager told him as they calmly walked through a wooded area. Whoever designed the outdoor areas of the complex did a marvelous job, because Ves couldn't help but feel his stress levels decreasing amidst all of this peace and quiet. "Therefore, they specifically erected this design complex in order to provide a refreshing and uplifting environment for our mech designers."
"I can feel the remarkable design behind the layout and architecture here." Ves nodded in agreement. "Anyone who works here will probably feel as if they are in a paradise."
"That's the idea behind this design center. Here at the Kadar-Neyvis Group, we pay a lot of attention to the comfort and well-being of our employees. After all, how can we be one of those gauche companies where our upper management earns millions of credits while our backbone is barely making a pittance?"
"That's a very progressive attitude for the KNG to take." Ves commented without making too much of a judgement.
While Ves could see the appeal behind shaping the expansive complex into a peaceful, zen-like environment, he himself found it to be rather adverse to his own style of designing mechs.
Ves believed he designed the best mechs when fired up with passion. The higher the pressure, the more frantic he worked and the less he second-guessed himself. Even though he'd slip up from time to time, the creative solutions he formed under pressure made all of the shortcomings worth it in the end!
A calm and serene design environment like this may be able to lower a mech designer's stress level, but it would also douse their more excitable impulses! As a mech designer, Ves understood how deeply their profession depended on emotional outbursts to design original mechs.
Nonetheless, it also made sense for the KNG to offer this kind of relaxing environment to mech designers if they didn't contribute to anything substantial in the company's designs.
Flashes of inspiration and passion-fueled adrenaline rushes served the lead designers of a design project well, but their subordinate mech designers would never have a chance to introduce some of their own innovations to the design!
Mech designers who only did grunt work such as modeling and simulating mech designs in order to optimize them and expose any flaws did not depend too much on creativity. The tedious, mind-numbing work wore out any mech designer, so to offer this kind of placid environment to them was like injecting them with sedates and other mind-calming drugs.
This was perhaps the most nefarious aspect about this design complex! Anyone who worked here would be shaped by the environment into becoming an unthinking drone for the KNG. The subliminal messages suffused in the complex's design depressed all of their excitable aspects in order to reinforce a mood of numb compliance.
He didn't mention all of this Jeff. In fact, Ves thought it was a great example on how to treat lower-level mech designers. Such a well-designed complex for mech designers prolonged their usefulness and allowed them to last longer before burning out.
"I've seen enough of the periphery. Please bring me inside."
They entered the main entrance and went through a pretty thorough security check where Ves had been forced to leave behind his military comm.
"My apologies, Ves, but you will have to leave behind any electronic devices. The work we undertake here is of vital importance to the company. We cannot allow anything we do inside to fall in the hands of our competitors."
Once they passed the security check, they entered deep within the bowels of the main facility. The overwhelmingly white interior with round smooth shapes and lack of sharp angles only reinforced the impression that this entire environment had been shaped to reinforce a sense of peace and calm.
"Many concurrent design projects take place in this facility." Jeff started to explain. "The KNG offers over fifty different mech models, many of which are only the latest versions in their product lines. It is here that work on the Mark II's, Mark III's, Mark IV's of our existing models are constantly being refined."
"Do the lead designers of all of these projects solely consist of Mrs. Kadar and Mr. Neyvis?"
"For the most part, they do. Sometimes they invite their fellow Journeyman colleagues to collaborate on a special mech design, but in most cases they are good enough to set the tone for the projects by themselves."
"How can they juggle this many design projects at once?"
"Their approach to designing mechs is to lead the design projects through intermittent guidance. Mrs. Kadar or Mr. Neyvis only has to spend a day or three to set an overall design a specific aspect, whereupon the assisting mech designers flesh out the direction through careful study and examination."
Ves wasn't too unfamiliar with this approach to designing mechs. A mech designer like him always engaged in only one design project at a time. Each time he embarked on a major design project, he put down everything else and devoted his entire attention span on designing a mech at the cost of losing track of external concerns.
Kadar and Neyvis couldn't afford to be too engulfed by their own design projects. Not only did they hold many responsibilities such as meeting with stakeholders and spending time with their children, they also needed to keep all of those design projects moving forward!
Just going from one design project after another one at a time sounded extremely inefficient to Ves. Therefore, he saw the logic in this distant and more imperious style of designing mechs. It wasn't too dissimilar from Professor Velten's approach to designing the Inheritor, Hellcat and Akkara designs back at the Flagrant Vandals.
It put Ves to thought as they visited some of the project workplaces. The design methodologies he witnessed seemed much more suited to a large mech company that continuously developed many designs at a time.
With only two lead designers but so many design projects all calling out for their attention, it was impossible for them to dedicate their full time on each of them! Kadar and Neyvis would run themselves ragged if they spent as much time on each design as Ves did on his own.
Ves only designed two original mechs for the market, while the two older Journeymen designed more than fifty commercial designs!
As Ves visited several design teams, he noted that all of them consisted of Apprentices and Novices. Not a single Journeyman Mech Designer could be found in their midst, and even the Apprentices themselves didn't seem too bright.
"Are there any other Journeymen or talented mech designers working here?"
"How could we?" Jeff shook his head in an honest fashion. "Any mech designer that is good enough to run their own companies have already done so. A mech designer of your caliber is very hard to retain. The only way to realistically pull over a mech designer with promise is to offer them a substantial amount of shares in the company."
"Or you could partner up with them. That's the case with Mrs. Kadar and Mr. Neyvis, right?"
Jeff smiled brightly. "Exactly! A personal union between our two bosses is very rare, but the Kadar-Neyvis Group that formed as a merger between their two former companies is much more powerful than the sum of its parts. The combination of two Journeyman Mech Designers who share everything they have together has been an absolute boon to our company's rise!"
Overall, as they toured the different design teams, Ves didn't get too see too much of their work. It wouldn't do for Ves to press for greater access as none of the design work on the KNG's commercial mechs had any bearing with the military.
This visit alone was only just a courtesy to the new liaison.
Still, Ves picked up plenty of insights. For example, for all of Jeff and other people's claims that the KNG looked out for their employees, he could see that the KNG didn't particularly value their mech designers.
This overly placid environment and the company's overall treatment of their lower-ranked mech designers all served the interests of the company owners.
The mech designers all enjoyed stable positions in the design teams, but Ves figured they did not enjoy that many prospects for improvement and advancement. A mech designer who joined the KNG's design teams would be destined to stall in their careers.
However, this was how the mech industry worked. The lead designers captured most of the benefits that came with designing mechs by exercising their creativity and coming up with innovations.
As for the mech designers that came after to refine the initial concept and optimize it into a form ready for the market, they held no say in how the mech design would shape out.
All of the mech designs published by the KNG either came at the hand of Kadar or Neyvis! Besides the occasional guest designer, no other mech designer earned any credit for developing the company's many designs!
Ves fell into a slightly introspective mood at the end of his tour through the facility. Perhaps if he hadn't obtained the system, Ves might have aspired to work for the KNG in a similar fashion. Unlike all the other alternative jobs that desperate mech designers ended up with, working as an assisting mech designer for the KNG seemed like a wish come true, as at least he'd be able to exercise his design ability, although to a very minor extent.
As Ves ended the tour for the day and took a shuttle ride back to base, he wondered how he should shape the LMC's design teams in the future. Should he adopt the model used by the KNG?
"The important point is that it works."
He knew that many mech companies above a certain scale with robust design teams adopted the same design methodology as the KNG. It aimed to solve the problem of maintaining many design projects while having far too few design talents to go around.
For now, the LMC only offered two original mech models, but how long would that last? Any self-respecting mech company that did not specialize in a single type of mechs always offered a few varieties of mech types.
Ves himself dreamed of designing a dozen or so mechs belonging to the same product family. He wanted to design different mech models of different mech types but with several shared aspects and interchangeable parts.
A set of related mech models, each of which used several common parts and behaved in a similar fashion, was the dream of every mech designer! This was because many large customers often preferred to order large batches of mechs from the same seller. This not only simplified their logistical needs. Adopting mechs from the same product family also trained their mech pilots and mech technicians to excel in working with the same kinds of mechs!
Naturally, to develop an entire product family of mechs was easier said than done. However, Ves personally saw that the KNG made it work!
"The KNG maintains two product families, one for spaceborn mechs and one for frontline mechs. Some of them share the same engines, the same power reactors, the same energy cells, same performance profile and more!"