You’ve heard it here first folks. Warren Buffett has decided to fire the Benjamin Moore CEO once again.
This is a surprising move to say the least, but the billionaire businessman has chosen to oust the current CEO just one year later after hiring the former restaurant exec.
On Friday afternoon, Benjamin Moore employees learned that Buffett’s longtime lieutenant Bob Merritt – the guy who actually rehabilitated the Outback steakhouse chain – has left his employment with Benjamin Moore.
The Berkshire Hathaway executives also called a conference call on Friday to discuss Merritt’s departure from the ailing paint company, but they did not provide any reason for his leaving.
They also made a statement on Friday saying that they are currently looking for a new CEO and plan to announce the replacement within the next few weeks.
This is a rare move for Warren Buffett because he typically allows the companies within the Berkshire Hathaway umbrella to operate on their own, but it’s becoming less rare since he did the same thing just 15 months ago when he let go of the former CEO Denis Abrams.
The New York Post had previously reported that Abrams was blasted by critics because he undermined the century-old network of Benjamin Moore and took advantage of their local dealers as a way to maximize near-term profits.
“This is, without doubt, [Buffett’s] Achilles’ heel and an ongoing embarrassment,” mentions a source that is very close to the current situation. “They’re on the hunt for yet another CEO, the third in less than a year and a half.”
Employees of the company were surprised that Merritt was ousted, since he typically was looked upon as the guy that did a great job of cleaning up Abrams previous messes, a source mentions.
Particularly, Merritt was brought in to help repair Benjamin Moore’s relationships with the local dealers. The dealers have said in recent years that the giant paint distributor strong-armed them into distributing to them exclusively while milking them for lots of cash.
Additionally, other than dramatically tightening terms on inventory financing, the Benjamin Moore dealers were also complaining that the company was looking for payments for marketing services that they never actually provided.