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202 24 A Radical Change and a New CFO Historically and especially prior to 1965, administrative and truck maintenance personnel were typically drawn from the ranks of the partners working on the trucks. This was especially true of those who had developed physical limitations and could not continue with the labor-intensive job of collecting garbage on an open truck. When an administrative position opened up, a working partner who needed such a position because of a physical impairment would fill it, even if he had no knowledge or experience in the new assignment. The shareholders who still worked on the trucks would call the assignment a “gravy job,” adding, “the guy is a bum . . . , must be kissing some director’s ass . . . , there is nothing wrong with him,” and suchlike. Whether the guy was a bum was not the issue. It was the company ’s policy that when any position became available, it would first be offered to a shareholder. The reason for this policy was to maintain the tradition of taking care of the shareholders. This was one of the primary incentives to become a shareholder. Recalling the words of the former president: “Keep your nose clean and you will have a job the rest of your life.” The problem was that 90 percent of the time the shareholder was assigned to a position about which he had no knowledge or experience. He needed to be trained, often by someone who was qualified. This created a double-edged sword scenario. Most people with managerial skills who came from outside the company had no basic knowledge of the complexities of the waste-collection business; they would have to be educated about “garbage” as well. Regardless of who filled any position, retraining was always necessary. As we acquired other companies, we adopted this employment policy by placing the “men on the truck” (shareholders) in new positions that became available. We had some success with this policy, but only after some proper mentoring and support. However , the degree of sophistication needed to meet the demands of the future surely did not come off the garbage trucks, so another challenge that had to be dealt with was the need to offer these 203 A Radical Change and a New CFO new executives an attractive compensation package, more than what we gave the man on the truck. I had to explain and justify to my board—and to the shareholders—that not all positions can be filled by a man on the truck. To attract qualified people to fill certain positions, we had to compensate them more than the current wages earned by the Boss Scavengers. They claimed that this was a bitter pill for them to swallow. This protest was crazy because the company would pay whomever we hired more money than I was making as president. I real­ ized, though, that I had to live with that situation because payment levels were an issue back in 1965 when I became president. Now I had to take my own bitter pill, whether I liked it or not. Late in 1979, we hired a young CPA as our corporate comptroller . In the past, he had audited our books to prepare certified financial statements as required by law. His skills and knowledge of the company’s affairs seemed to make him a perfect fit, and his compensation package was within acceptable range of the Boss Scavengers. Nevertheless, I had to do some hard selling to the board because he had “never carried garbage. . .and he was not Italian”—yet another “old way” to deal with. The board eventually agreed to hire him. The new comptroller and I had some personality conflicts from the very beginning. I felt he had a superiority issue with me, suggesting that he was smarter than I was. That feeling came to reality in 1982 at a company Christmas party at Bimbo’s, when he, like many of us, had indulged in some alcoholic beverages. He asked to dance with my wife, and she agreed. When my wife came back, she said, “Where did you find this guy?” I asked why she’d said that, and she responded, “I’ll tell you on the way home.” Once in the car, she told me that as soon as they got on the dance floor, my corporate comptroller proceeded to tell her how intelligent and educated he was, how he was more qualified than I was to be president, and that if he...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780874175592
Related ISBN
9781943859399
MARC Record
OCLC
1001968451
Pages
244
Launched on MUSE
2017-09-27
Language
English
Open Access
No
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