The headline is no exaggeration. George Zimmer has definitely been portrayed as the villain in the curious case of the Men's Wearhouse founder getting fired by the company's executive board last week.
Zimmer, who opened the first Men's Wearhouse in Houston in 1973, "refused to support management" and wanted the type of veto power that would essentially make him more powerful than current CEO Doug Ewert, according to a statement released by the board today. And they were having none of it.
According to them, Zimmer was simply the bitter former CEO.
"After selecting our CEO, Doug Ewert, and several of the key management team members that have effectively been running the company for many years with great success, Mr. Zimmer eventually refused to support the team unless they acquiesced to his demands," the board said.
Zimmer, for what it's worth, had a chance to tell his side of the story, a point at which he described the Men's Warehouse board as ignorant to the legitimate problems that he has questioned.
"Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the board about the direction the company is currently heading," Zimmer is quoted by CNBC as saying. "Instead of fostering the kind of dialogue in the boardroom that has in part contributed to our success, the board has inappropriately chosen to silence my concerns through termination as an executive officer" suggests dissatisfaction with the company's growth."
Both sides will point fingers at the other, although the board has made Zimmer look pretty bad today. The bigger story, however, has to be that a man who built a business with his own two hands has essentially been tossed out of his own company.
According to this USA Today report, Zimmer is said to have started his business in a small store using a cigar box as his register. He has since made Men's Wearhouse into a billion-dollar enterprise with over 1,000 locations and an unmistakable slogan. But now the man who has promised us for years that we'll like the way we look has been guaranteed nothing but a 3.5 percent share in the enterprise he created.
According to a statement released by the board today, "Mr. Zimmer had difficulty accepting the fact that Men's Wearhouse is a public company with an independent Board of Directors and that he has not been the Chief Executive Officer for two years," the board said. "He advocated for significant changes that would enable him to regain control, but ultimately he was unable to convince any of the Board members or senior executives that his positions were in the best interests of employees, shareholders or the company's future."
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