Benjamin Moore Facing Internal Turmoil

When Warren Buffett fired Denis Abrams, he chose to make Tracy Britt chairwoman of Benjamin Moore. It turns out that making Britt the chairperson turned out to be a very disastrous move.

Truthfully, Benjamin Moore, Berkshire Hathaway’s paint company, looks like it’s going to be getting into deeper and deeper trouble. Just last month, the company fired Bob Merritt, CEO and did not share the reason. Tracy Britt announced last week that Michael Searles would be taking over as the new chief executive officer. He is the third Benjamin Moore CEO in less than two years.

Unexpected Moves from Warren Buffett’s Confidant

There were alleged allegations to James Covert of the New York Post stating that Bob Merritt was fired because he was sexually harassing the female employees. Things get a lot trickier because Bob Merritt is married to Jill Dilosa, who happens to be a close friend of Tracy Britt. Merritt’s wife is a Wall Street investor, and in 2006 she also appeared on the TV series “Wall Street Warriors.”

Some people speculate that Tracy Britt will succeed Warren Buffett once he finally retires. As a matter of fact, the graduate from Harvard actually occupies the office right next door to Buffett at Berkshire HQ. Even more convincingly, Warren Buffett actually walked her down the aisle when Tracy Britt got married last month. He stood in for her father who has passed on from this world.

Putting Britt in place as the chairperson of Benjamin Moore could just be a move. Oddly enough, Bob Merritt was hired to replace Denis Abrams almost immediately once Tracy Britt was in place. This surprise many people because an inside source at the New York Post tells us that this decision took place instantly. Some believe that it had something to do with the fact that she is close friends of Merritt’s wife. Britt didn’t hire a search firm. She didn’t interview any other candidates. These things typically take place during a deliberate process.

As a matter of fact, a number of the executives at Benjamin Moore criticized the Bob Merritt hiring. He had no real experience within the paint industry, and he was in semi retirement at the time. But Merritt did impress the employees of the company with his management style as time went on.

Challenges Faced by Warren Buffett

This situation is not typical for Berkshire Hathaway. They are not normally embroiled in scandalous allegations of female employee harassment or constant hiring and firing. Typical Berkshire Hathaway CEOs last for many, many years, usually up until they retire. Warren Buffett now faces a big challenge when it comes to figuring out how to handle Benjamin Moore. And when all is said and done, is Tracy Britt still looked at as the most worthy Warren Buffett successor at Berkshire Hathaway?