This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang, but a whimper.
Reading Perlemeister’s blurb on the death of Golay, it’s the same old story that surfaces in any industry, anywhere. Golay moved away from hiring and keeping eminently capable employees who knew the pearl trade inside and out to taking on Armani-clad “suits” who knew nothing about the core business other than sitting on their keesters in air-conditioned comfort before glowing computers, collecting data under the guise of being marketing geniuses destined to lead their company onward and upward.
People who had done business successfully for many years soon started to leave the sinking ship, and in a short time all the company had left were what are called “veranda pearlers” in the business: folks who had no earthly concept about the pearl business, who had never dirtied their hands in learning it from the ground up, who weren’t experienced buyers and sellers of anything except how to buff themselves and their flashy résumés so as impress one another while crawling up to increasingly undeserved executive-level heights (and perks).
As sales plummeted, these hotshots knew more and more about less and less until they knew everything about nothing consequential, leaving a cadre of totally incapable idiots at the top who brought the hundred year old company down in just a few years. Which just goes to prove that the pearl business is not done in suits, ties and glistening loafers by coiffed dudes sitting in front of a keyboard, but by those who toil in the trenches and know first-hand the grunt work it takes to become a success in pearling... and to maintain that success.
You name the industry, and I’ll spin you the same cautionary tale.
Many years ago a very dear pal of mine took over the reins of his father’s long-established printing firm, a company at the very top of the heap in a very competitive business in town. He had printer’s ink in his veins, and knew the printing business inside and out, from setting hard type to buying paper, from scheduling to running and servicing those thundering printing behemoth presses.
But he wasn’t a capable executive; he had been “peter principled” to be in control by his father’s death solely because he was the heir to the business. So he turned to a friend of his who convinced him to bring in a bunch of “suits” to expand the business. Soon they built a huge new facility on the outskirts of town, filled it with the most modern machinery, and moved away from their core of business– the commercial printing of high-volume jobs like telephone books and Yellow Pages– to fancier, more profitable four-color printing. Seemingly in the time it takes to snap one’s fingers, the business went broke, and my friend is hiding today in a Mexican seaside hovel, avoiding extradition and litigation from a horde of angry creditors.
As Perlemeister so rightly said: it takes one generation to build success and only one or two to bring it to its knees. Bringing in “Rudy Slicks” is a sure recipe for failure.