Has the Republic Saga Had an Impact?
Survey Results for 09/16/2009:
Has the Republic saga had an impact on the industry?
Yes, but only minor.
Yes, it's had a fairly significant impact.
Looking at this week’s poll results, the industry isn’t too worried about the Republic Windows and Richard Gillman story having a big impact. The head of another regional window company wrote to say, “There are too many news sources and not enough news. This, the Republic story, would have been a local story or a regional story in the past.”
There is some concern, however. About one in five respondents think Republic might be having an impact. A few people also shared their concerns with me.
“If the allegations are true, it will simply underscore an appropriate distrust for leadership and partnership in an industry that has extreme variability in levels of manufacturing, distribution and leadership maturity,” writes an executive from a leading industry supplier. “If the reported behaviors are true, there will be no excuse for the manner in how the inevitable business dissolution occurred, and our industry will simply be more easily vilified by both the press and the hard working labor pool we all require. Of course there’s a ‘ton of talk’, with the usual ‘I knew this was going on’ as well as the ‘wow, I can’t believe it’ comments. Overall, it just makes it harder to maintain employee trust, especially when tough decisions need to be made regarding downsizing or other cost containment initiatives. If true, all of us in the fenestration industry just got painted a little less trustworthy.”
“What can the industry do to shake this suede shoe label when high profile happenings like Republic, Window Wizard, et al., dominate the news?” asks John Jervis of AWDI. “Richard Gillman isn’t the big story, it’s the industry that spawns so many of them to the detriment of all the honest players.”
A few other people addressed my surprise about the treatment Gillman received, notably a $10 million bond that he couldn’t pay, leaving him in jail even before he’s gone on trial. A sales representative for another window company wrote to say, “The man is getting exactly what he deserves…He has made our industry look bad for waaaaaaaaaaay too long!”
“This whole situation reminds me of the vilification of Martha Stewart during the Enron scandal,” writes an industry supplier who had some brief dealings with Gillman. “Compared to the Enron executives, poor Martha was a piker....but the people understood Martha in a way they didn't understand the Enron executives. The very public imprisonment of Martha Stewart was supposed to make the people feel like their government was protecting their interests.
“The reality is people don't understand the banking and insurance industries in the same way that they understand evil bosses who treat their employees like feudal peasants; stealing the fruits of their labors, and letting them starve in the streets. After all, we all cheered when Richard Gillman's peasants took up their pitchforks and shovels and won the initial battle with him, waged right on the public stage.”