The Benjamin Moore halls are being painted new shade of color these days, and the employees have labeled it “bloodbath.”
Under Warren Buffett’s ownership, many sources are telling us that the troubled business and will be firing 35 sales representatives – many of them being veterans of the company that have decades of experience with the brand – as it looks to conserve company cash.
Benjamin Moore is currently letting people go even though Buffett recently pledged publicly to rebuild the network of the 130 brand of mom-and-pop dealers, which he specifically touted as an American business triumph when he bought the company for $1 billion in the year 2000.
“This is the antithesis of rebuilding the network,” a former company executive told the New York Post, saying that the nationwide sales force of the company has been cut down to less than 200 people – which is down by 50% or more since the housing crisis first began.
“They’re cutting the heads who actually could facilitate the revival of those dealer networks.”
Benjamin Moore representatives, as well as the investment conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, chose not to comment when requested.
The Benjamin Moore turmoil has gotten much worse under Tracy Britt Cool. She is Warren Buffett’s 29 -year-old financial assistant who was put in place last year after the previous CEO, Denis Abrams, was fired.
In a tough ritual this past Tuesday, many of the traveling field reps were summoned to the Montvale, New Jersey company headquarters. They were abruptly handed pink slips and taken home and black limousines once their company-owned cars were confiscated, one source confirms.
“They take your phone right away, they take your car keys, and they empty everything you’ve got into a cardboard box,” a source said. “Then you get the limo ride to your own funeral.”
Tracy Britt Cool, who currently has an office in the Berkshire Hathaway company building right next to Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska, has not been able to stop the bleeding that began under Abrams. Abrams was trying to dismantle the dealer network so that he can put in distribution deals with Lowe’s and other big-box retailers.
Tracy’s first blunder was placing Bob Merritt as company CEO. He is a former restaurant executive that also happens to be the husband of Jill DiLosa, Cool’s close friend. She is a 36-year-old Wall Street investor.
Previously reported by the New York Post this past September, Benjamin Moore let go of Merritt due to allegations that he has been harassing the female employees at the company. Michael Searles immediately replaced Merritt. He is a veteran retailer.
Company insiders are speculating that Tracy Britt is giving an early retirement to dozens of sales reps. Many of these reps had six-figure salaries and pensions. The company plans to replace them with lower paid, younger workers.
The carnage has made the bitterness toward Buffett even worse, who has been blasted for taking large cash dividends from the business even as it cuts costs.
“Warren and Charlie get to work forever,” said one previous company employee, referring to longtime vice chairman Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, ages 89 and 83, respectively. “Meanwhile, they get rid of all the 50-year-olds.”