Reply To: 25 Aniversery


(re: re: re: 25 Aniversery) Must be making you mad Ken, to see the company you worked so hard for be turned into the Sierra it is today… I know it’s making me mad! I don’t think they even realise Sierra is turning 25!
Here’s a story I may have already told on this board (hopefully not — I hate to bore people).
About three years ago, I went through the same process as I am now — I contacted the reigning hauncho at Sierra to ask if I could help. I had heard that things were going sideways, and wanted to help get the company on track. He was polite but clearly not interested.
That didn’t bother me – but, what did is that as we were walking to the elevator, after a nice lunch, he mentioned that his predecessor (or, him – I don’t remember which) had hired a consulting firm to help them decide what had gone wrong at Sierra. For those who have never hired consultants, here’s what happens: you give them $100-300,000 and they start a bunch of smart college graduates studying your business – and, then give you back a thick book telling you how to run your business better.
Here’s what angered and humiliated me: Sierra grew 30 to 50% every year for nearly 20 years under my leadership. I made more than my fair share of mistakes, but we always made money — typically bringing 20% or so to the bottom line. So – the pattern is that the company grew consistently and profitably for 18 years – then started shrinking and losing money during the years after the sale.
At the time, I lived about two miles from the corporate offices. Do you think the fancy, suit-wearing, high-priced, college-educated researchers thought to invest a dime in calling me to ask what changed. Nope. Could I have made a difference? Got me, I’d like to think so. I would have been happy to try, and how much worse could I have done?
-Ken W