Miscellaneous Rumbles

OK who here is going to apply for this job?

2

I'd give it a shot.

I've got some great ideas...

3

I'd give it a shot.

I've got some great ideas...

– crowbone

Like making a fez or luchador mask part of the standard work uniform?

4

No, I don't think so. I'd soon grow weary of having to tell Jusz to go to hell when he suggests anything.

5

Like making a fez or luchador mask part of the standard work uniform?

– Tartan Phantom

My first act would be banning the term "robot" from the premises.

6

I thought Bonamassa was going to pick up the ball?

8

The guy they need is already there, somewhere .He/she has stuck it out through thick and thin, sadly shaking their head at the utter cluelessness of the mucky mucks upstairs. This person has thought about it everyday for the decades they spent working the floor, knowing every in and out of every department. That's the person they need to bring in, one who's in house and well known by the worker bees.But not by themselves. You do need financial expertise to keep it grounded.People such as I described,not being the bean counter type,needs one to keep it real. A pairing of the two as co -chair or whatever they call it,would IMO be the way to go.

9

I emailed Mike Lewis about it a couple months ago. He'd be The Man...but I think he's a true Fender/Gretsch loyalist (and God love'im). He didn't respond.

If the bullet points are prioritized, they suggest a board which is slow to learn from experience.

• Prior experience in a major consumer products company required
• Prior experience in a recognized brand, including digital, social engagement & e-commerce required
• Experience in acquiring & integrating complementary businesses preferred
• Private equity experience including a successful “exit” preferred
• Music industry experience preferred
• Prior P&L experience with global premium brands preferred

For one, I'm sorry to see the word "consumer" in there at all - and can't help noticing that the word "guitar" appears nowhere. Not even "musical instrument." The Gibson company as it evolved from Orville through McCarty would barely recognize themselves in this brief.

And I'm wondering why "music industry" is practically at the bottom duh. Anyone remember how well the soda pop magnate worked out at Apple?

A company's CEO should live the industry his company is in. I'm sorry, but management experience - even at the very top - is not portable from one industry to another. I know the Hahvahd Business School and its smothering battalion of minions across the land believe widgets are all alike (and in fact that service is just another widget), but they're wrong.

If all the creativity and energy which has gone into "financial innovation" and making money from nothing (or, more accurately, by dismantling and recombining the remains of others' real work) had gone into actual product engagement and serious customer service, American business and industry would be much more sound than they are.

I know it flies high on the stock market now, and the lessons of the criminal banking scandals of not that long ago were either never learned or have been forgotten - and I hope it doesn't happen while my retirement is at stake, not to mention my childrens' financial security - but the house of cards is bound to collapse eventually.

Be THAT as it may, and apologies for the tangent.

I'm also disheartened to see "Experience in acquiring & integrating complementary businesses preferred." Because THAT worked out so well in the Henry Bored (with just guitars) era.

And this one's funny: "Private equity experience including a successful “exit” preferred."

Yeah, I bet. This exit's going so gracefully. Finally the board forthrightly makes their self-interest a hiring point.

What's wrong with a smaller, less ambitious, chastened Gibson, knuckling down with its unparalleled product heritage and getting back to the business of making great guitars at a fair price for the value received? The company's own Epiphone demonstrates someone there knows how to do it. For that matter, who runs Epiphone? Can they not promote from within?

10

"Complimentary Businesses" are what got Gibson and Henry J into trouble in the first place. Buying five nearly defunct piano companies was his first mistake. Buying high end stereo companies was another, especially when that industry was dying and the market was going towards Blue Tooth speakers and earbuds. They need to decide what they really want to accomplish other than taking over the personal music market by themselves. Diversification isn't always a good thing. Gibson did one thing originally, and they did it quite well. They need to pull back and cut their losses.

11

In 2005 I was the lead negotiator in search of a first contract with IBM for a unionized group of about 250 employees who had been sucked up as part of a government contract. Provincial law said they could keep their status if they chose to (and they did), so negotiations commenced. All of which is reallly not important. What went on during those negotiations was highly revealing of the "Big Business" mentality, which one senior manager from New York phrased with a very Gordon Gekko-esque turn- "grow or die".

Essentially, if you do not make your business grow, and not just grow, but grow in ever larger increments every year, you are a failure, and your position on or near the top of the ladder is officially called into question. No longer is simply making a profit enough, you must make a larger profit this year than last, or risk the wrath of the shareholders - most of which are actually computer programs operated by "capital management" companies.

Our Big Blue Bigwig was charged with making the investment in this particular contract more fruitful on an annual basis. It was all about the bottom line, and it was extremely important to his bosses that his own bottom line exceed their expectations or he would simply be out of a job. Once we wrapped our brains around that, we were able to devise a strategy and lay out a set of demands we knew he would agree to, without sacrificing a single hard-earned benefit that was already in the existing agreement. It worked. He called it a "win win", we called it "reasonable gains". But I am side-tracking myself.

My feeling is that Henry J subscribed to the same theory, and probably so did/does the Gibson Brands Board. The guitar maker was making a modest year-to-year profit, but this year's profit was not sufficiently more than last year, so buying up a smaller company, looting it (selling off assets) and adding the results to the bottom line allowed for a bigger profit.. and thus it began.

Take a look around at many of the big failures. A large percentage of them certainly came from failed attempts at "diversity". What drove them to diversify? In some cases, one word:

"Greed"

And no, I don't think Gibby's board ha figured it out, yet. To them, Gordon Gekko was a real figure, not a satire.

12

From the description, if I wasn't told it was a job opening for a CEO of Gibson, I would have no idea what the product was. From the looks of it, it's highly unlikely that Gibson will resurrect the brand in any way that will reflect its history or instill a passion among consumers to be connected with it. Lots of people can build great guitars and amps, but how many can build one that is legitimately connected to the birth of bebop up at Mintons in the hands of Charlie Christian, the birth of southern rock in the hands of Duane Allman, the bedrock of the Count Basie Orchestra in the hands of Freddie Green, Clapton in Cream, and on and on the list goes........

I think Cordoba, the company that now owns the Guild brand, got it right when just a year after acquisition, they issued the Newark Street line of electrics; reissues of the guitars made in the old Hoboken factory. They even went as far as recreating the old pickups that are so sought after, although they did seem to have messed up with the relative outputs of the neck and bridge. If I was a Jerry Garcia fan, I'd have one for sure. In fact, they are so cool that I might get one anyway.

13

In 2005 I was the lead negotiator in search of a first contract with IBM for a unionized group of about 250 employees who had been sucked up as part of a government contract. Provincial law said they could keep their status if they chose to (and they did), so negotiations commenced. All of which is reallly not important. What went on during those negotiations was highly revealing of the "Big Business" mentality, which one senior manager from New York phrased with a very Gordon Gekko-esque turn- "grow or die".

Essentially, if you do not make your business grow, and not just grow, but grow in ever larger increments every year, you are a failure, and your position on or near the top of the ladder is officially called into question. No longer is simply making a profit enough, you must make a larger profit this year than last, or risk the wrath of the shareholders - most of which are actually computer programs operated by "capital management" companies.

Our Big Blue Bigwig was charged with making the investment in this particular contract more fruitful on an annual basis. It was all about the bottom line, and it was extremely important to his bosses that his own bottom line exceed their expectations or he would simply be out of a job. Once we wrapped our brains around that, we were able to devise a strategy and lay out a set of demands we knew he would agree to, without sacrificing a single hard-earned benefit that was already in the existing agreement. It worked. He called it a "win win", we called it "reasonable gains". But I am side-tracking myself.

My feeling is that Henry J subscribed to the same theory, and probably so did/does the Gibson Brands Board. The guitar maker was making a modest year-to-year profit, but this year's profit was not sufficiently more than last year, so buying up a smaller company, looting it (selling off assets) and adding the results to the bottom line allowed for a bigger profit.. and thus it began.

Take a look around at many of the big failures. A large percentage of them certainly came from failed attempts at "diversity". What drove them to diversify? In some cases, one word:

"Greed"

And no, I don't think Gibby's board ha figured it out, yet. To them, Gordon Gekko was a real figure, not a satire.

– Kevin Frye

Yep, most folks just don't understand how "big" business really works, or how brutal the mentality of upper management and the boards really are.

To start a company takes desire, passion, hard work with long hours, direction, and common sense.

Once a company is established, and especially when it goes "public", the board of directors/stock holders only have one thing in mind, market share growth and larger bottom lines. Period.

Common sense is lost, or just not there anymore, and the answer for growth, overshadows real direction.

That's when the fun begins, and we have stories like todays Gibson situation.

As far the wanting to take a job like we're discussing, heck I'm retiring in three weeks, not really looking to grow or save a company or get scalped by not keeping the board happy.

I've got more common sense than money, and I'm fine with that.

14

I thought Bonamassa was going to pick up the ball?

– Suprdave

Hahahaaaa that cracked a rib..ya bonomasa...doo doo da doo doo

15

I think Cordoba, the company that now owns the Guild brand, got it right when just a year after acquisition, they issued the Newark Street line of electrics; reissues of the guitars made in the old Hoboken factory. They even went as far as recreating the old pickups that are so sought after

I agree the Guilds are right, but point of clarity: I believe Cordoba largely inherited the brand pretty much intact. Guild was actually an FMIC brand when the Newark Street series was introduced. Mike Lewis - who also headed Gretsch out of the chute when FMIC took over management, for a few years before Joey C ascended - was responsible for developing Newark Street. He also handled the initial Roots series models and introduction.

Mike is incredibly painstaking and thorough in projects like these, does in-depth hands-on research with the originals, truly respects and works enthusiastically with his Asian partners, attends to the most minute details, and flat nails it. He's one of my heroes.

16

I typed the long post and it vanished. Here's a deeply abridged version. The job, in the short term it’s a no win situation and more pressure than anyone would want to deal with. An inside person would have a ton of obstacles and an outsider would be an outsider.

Whomever it is I think they'd have to approach it as Steve Jobs did during his v2 but he had an advantage because he was v1.

Everything needs to be streamlined and the stupid products would have to go. The 80 / 20 rule would have to be considered. None of the questionable products that have risky breakeven points should be produced. Then there's distribution, what model do you decide on? Selling direct or three tier?

I wish them luck, they will survive but the next five years will be difficult.

17

Gibson never should've left Michigan.

They tried to get too big too fast. They didn't know the market as well as they thought. I'd also expect there are very few "old timers" in the head office. I wish Gibson luck.

18

Good point Protty made. The CEO should have the right background.

We had a Minister of Culture. He didn't know the painting I posted here. His reply: "You expect me to know every painting in the World". You might guess how devastating his plans were. Just terrible. He had to decide about TV budget and TV programs. He admitted never to watch TV. Only when a certain chick was on because he liked her.

This is just to plea for leaders who live their job. Not just anybody. We had our share of remarkable management statements over at the broadcast station where I work, so I know it's very important.

19

"Private equity experience including a successful “exit” preferred."

Finally the board forthrightly makes their self-interest a hiring point.

I expect this is a reference to a desire to see Henry J's shareholding withdrawn and/or the other shareholders in the company exiting once the company is out of chapter 11. The legal doctrine old as the hills is that a company exists for its shareholders, and the board members have fiduciary duties to these shareholders. So to the extent the board is "self-interested" here, it's because the law requires it.

It's not such a big deal that a CEO have specific personal experience in the underlying product. Even Ted McCarty as you mentioned came from a piano company and very nearly went to a sweets company instead of Gibson.

This is normal because many executive functions like accounting carry across all industries. For my own part, I had worked my entire career in financial services only to recently switch to a new industry. I do the same sort of work, the only main difference is I have a different regulator and had to become familiar with different regulations. But at the end of the day a contract is a contract and advocacy is advocacy.

20

I'd give it a shot.

I've got some great ideas...

– crowbone

Like cornering the kazoo market? Hey, who thought ukeles would be hot?

(Spellcheck wanted to change ukeles to useless...I somewhat agree)

21

I think Cordoba, the company that now owns the Guild brand, got it right when just a year after acquisition, they issued the Newark Street line of electrics; reissues of the guitars made in the old Hoboken factory. They even went as far as recreating the old pickups that are so sought after

I agree the Guilds are right, but point of clarity: I believe Cordoba largely inherited the brand pretty much intact. Guild was actually an FMIC brand when the Newark Street series was introduced. Mike Lewis - who also headed Gretsch out of the chute when FMIC took over management, for a few years before Joey C ascended - was responsible for developing Newark Street. He also handled the initial Roots series models and introduction.

Mike is incredibly painstaking and thorough in projects like these, does in-depth hands-on research with the originals, truly respects and works enthusiastically with his Asian partners, attends to the most minute details, and flat nails it. He's one of my heroes.

– Proteus

You are right Proteus; the Newark line was around in 2013, a year before Cordoba took over the reins from Fender. I had read that it was a new line introduced in 2015, but a little more digging turned up a display photo of the Newark guitars with the 2013 date. Thanks for pointing that out.

22

Hey, I actually appear to meet the required (sorta) and even some of the preferred criteria. Problem is, first day I'd tell them they have to change the knobs and switches around to get rid of that stupid 4-pot setup. And chamber the damn things. A lot.

So I'm probably not the guy

23

If there's a rotten apple in the barrel, the first thing you do is get rid of the rotten apple, and all of the other apples that may have been affected. That would include personnel and products/subsidiary companies. Wells Fargo is currently undergoing an image rebuilding. Gibson will need to do the same, but first order of business would have to be to right the ship fiscally.

The corporate culture and lifestyle has never appealed to me.

24

Hahahaaaa that cracked a rib..ya bonomasa...doo doo da doo doo

– SLICKFASTER

Well I saw it on the internet so it must be true.

25

The best book I ever read, and I don't read many, is Worst to First. Great book and it's a tool for managing people. I used it a lot in my former life and fortunately I don't need any of those skills anymore (says the happiest person on this planet).


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