In a tough economic climate, being a smart executive comes down to both dollars and (common) sense. That is, if you want to be careful about the messages you're sending with your actions.
Unfortunately for Denis Abrams, CEO of Benjamin Moore, a company owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, he had to learn that the hard way.
In a story first reported by The New York Post, the executive of the Montvale, N.J.-based paint company was fired by the Buffett after taking his corporate staff on a trip to Bermuda on the company dime.
The trip was intended to celebrate the company’s first quarterly sales increase in five years. But a lavish getaway that included a dinner cruise aboard a yacht believed to be owned by singer Jimmy Buffett wasn’t the best idea for the leader of a unit that has endured layoffs and salary freezes since 2007.
Good quarter or not, the trip didn’t sit well with the frugal billionaire Buffett.
The report reveals that top Berkshire executives let Abrams know of his fate last Tuesday, a decision that has sparked positive reaction following years of worker complaints and strategic mishaps. And now Benjamin Moore has to assure consumers, as well as its employees, that the leadership is working in the best interests of the company, and not vacationing and risking the success of the brand.
And while anyone losing a job is no cause for celebration, Buffett’s message to his senior leaders—and perhaps to his fellow billionaires—is that in tough times, the fruits of success should be shared by all instead of flaunted by the few.
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