Prologue – The Unicorn Project


• Tuesday, September 2


Steve Masters (CEO, Parts Unlimited)


All Parts Unlimited Employees


Dick Landry (CFO, Parts Unlimited),
Laura Beck (VP Human Resources)


11:50 p.m., September 2


Payroll Failure

To fellow employees of Parts Unlimited,

Early this morning, several thousand timecards were corrupted due to a technical failure, mostly affecting employees and contractors in our manufacturing facilities and retail stores.

My goal is to ensure that everyone gets paid as soon as possible. Anyone who was underpaid should get a check in the next twenty-four hours.

As CEO, my job is to ensure that we fulfill our obligations to our employees, who make the daily work of this organization possible. Without you, we would not be able to serve our customers, who depend on us to keep their cars running to conduct their daily lives.

I apologize to you and everyone who depends on you for the problems and inconveniences this payroll issue causes. I commit to you that we will provide all necessary help, including communicating with any bill collectors, banks, etc.

At the bottom of this email you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions from HR and Business Operations. If you are not getting help quickly enough, please email me or call me on my office phone anytime.

In the meantime, our top priority is to understand what factors led to this failure, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Steve Masters,
CEO, Parts Unlimited


Chris Allers (VP Dev, Parts Unlimited)


All IT Employees


Bill Palmer (VP IT Ops), Steve Masters (CEO),
Dick Landry (CFO, Parts Unlimited)


12:30 a.m., September 3


Corrective actions for the payroll failure


Because of the high-profile nature of the payroll outage, we have conducted a thorough root-cause analysis. We have concluded that it was due to both human error and a technology failure. We have taken decisive actions to ensure that it will not happen again. The person responsible has been reassigned to a role where they can no longer affect production outcomes.

If you have any questions, please email me.



Elkhart Grove Herald Times

Parts Unlimited Flubs Paychecks, Local Union Leader Calls Failure ‘Unconscionable’

Automotive parts supplier Parts Unlimited has failed to issue correct paychecks to some of its hourly factory workers, and others haven’t received any compensation for their work, according to a Parts Unlimited internal memo. The company denies that the issue is connected to cash flow problems and instead attributes the error to a payroll system failure.

The once high-flying $4 billion company has been plagued by flagging revenue and growing losses in recent quarters. These financial woes, which some blame on a failure of upper management, have led to rampant job insecurity among local workers struggling to support their families.

According to the memo, whatever the cause of the pay roll failure, employees might have to wait days or weeks to be compensated.

“This is just the latest in a long string of management execution missteps by the company in recent years,” according to Nestor Meyers Chief Industry Analyst Kelly Lawrence.

Parts Unlimited CFO Dick Landry did not return phone calls from the Herald Times requesting comment on the payroll issue, accounting errors and questions of managerial competency.

In a statement issued on behalf of Parts Unlimited, Landry expressed regret at the “glitch,” and vowed that the mistake would not be repeated. The Herald Times will continue to post updates as the story progresses.