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Requiem for the May Company

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Here was my Tweet: “After 85+ years, George S. May Company is no longer in business. Perhaps the consulting company should have hired outside consultants.” I could have left it at that, but in the last 10 years of its existence, this once great company churned and burned so many consultants and small companies, either you or someone you know has been touched by it. It touched me. Now it is no more.

George S. May identified business as a set of algorithms and began his management consulting business in 1925 with a project for a company that would become Sunbeam, the blender maker. His new Chicago-based company did so well that it opened offices in New York and San Francisco. Despite the Great Depression, May Company history includes its posting revenue of $1 million in 1937, more than $15 million today.overseeing the transition

May himself became best known for getting golf televised, among other things. Postwar America was good for his company, which advertised “Business Engineering” in leading business magazines and journals. He died in 1962 leaving the company stock to his family. In 1966 the May Company left downtown Chicago for the suburb of Park Ridge, where the 41,000-square-foot world headquarters is now closed and for sale, price $4 million. More about the “Ridge” in a moment.

In the ‘90s the May company hit the $100 million revenue mark and by 2000 it began operations in Mexico, under Donald J. Fletcher, its third president. In 2002, Israel Kushnir replaced Fletcher. However, according to one of the company’s last press releases, “The company’s former president Israel Kushnir has left his post to pursue his own ventures, but the company is in the best of hands as Mrs. Kerry Sam Jacobs, George S May’s granddaughter is overseeing the transition to ensure prosperity as the company moves forward.”

That expression, “…left his post to pursue his own ventures,” is usually a euphemistic way of saying, “You’re fired.” The company’s Managing Director, Paul Rouseau, a frequent Fox Business News personality, is also pursuing his own ventures as are many other former top executives who presided over the May Company’s financial collapse inherited by Jacobs and the May family lawyers in 2010.

As one of the replacement senior executives put it to me, in an email confirming the company’s demise, “I left at the beginning of the year, but it was a slow, painful end to a once great company. 2010 was like sitting on the deck of the Titanic watching people rearrange the deck chairs while the band played on.”

The Ridge building has a cornerstone: “1960.” Eisenhower, a golf enthusiast, was leaving office. Cadillacs were 22 feet long. Gasoline cost pennies. Business had boomed. Inside the conservative office building, a photo mural of golf’s greats inspired awe. I never knew whether to genuflect or salute when I entered and breathed in that 1960s air.

It has been said that the Kushnir-Rouseau regime monitored every phone call and every email. Yelling was the preferred mode of communication. The way they saw it, clients needed to be controlled by analysts and consultants. Intimidation meant control.

Israel Kushnir made an impression on me in an awkward moment at the Ridge, as I stood outside the training building on a cigarette break with a colleague during a conference. A dapper and bald gent strode across the parking lot and pointed at me.

“Stop smoking,” he declared, briskly.The Ridge

“Grow hair,” I exhaled.

He passed me, smiled, and entered the building. My colleague bit his lip, trying not to laugh. “Do you know who that is?” he choked. “That’s the president of the company.”

Paul Rouseau convinced me to pursue my own interests that Christmas.

There were others who worked alongside Kushnir and Rouseau who got sacked, albeit too late for new management to save May. Apart from a large headquarters staff of executives and support personnel, there is a telemarketing staff, a field sales staff, a field survey service [analyst] staff, a field consulting staff, and a smaller client service staff that is now looking for work around Park Ridge, Illinois.

The Better Business Bureau gave the George S. May International Company an F before the company shut down. The company had previously boasted the Bureau’s Excellence in Ethics Award. The BBB also gives an F to May company rival International Profit Associates and its alphabet-named clone companies. IPA is also the target of litigation by the Illinois State Attorney General’s Office, but that is another story for some other time.

Rippoff.com and many similar consumer rating sites have been on the May company’s case for years. At a client meeting in Sitka, Alaska, a May analyst, a consultant, and I, as Project Director, were met by police and given a cease-and-desist order and individual property restraining orders after our client had gone online and read Rippoff. The office in Park Ridge did not appreciate my report, I can assure you.

Evidently, what had been called “the May way” quit working. But you know that your business is in the wind when Wikipedia deletes your page. It is really kind of sad. Business Engineering failed. One can only wonder what the May family will do with 85+ years’ worth of project binders filled with meticulous documentation. It is a Titanic load of American small-business history.

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About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • An interesting and sad tale. I never understood the usefulness of management consultants. My personal experiences with them, as an employee at a number of companies that have hired them, have always been bad. They come in with no understanding of a company’s culture, and therefore their “fixes” end up intimidating and souring the longtime, productive employees, in the end leaving things worse off than when they came in. Maybe I just had bad luck…

  • You know what they say about management consultants. They come and borrow your watch, tell you what time it is and keep the watch.

  • Ray

    A well written article. Tom was one of a number of able people who performed legitimate consulting work for GSMIC. His abilities and the abilities of many others who worked for the company were not appreciated.

  • My personal email responding to the Requiem piece has been divided. An engineer client wrote that until we worked together he always thought that a consultant was “a salesman who lives 500 miles out of town.” That more accurately describes the consulting business. Billing hours and collecting payments is what the business does. They are separate activities altogether from actual consulting work.

    In my opinion the May company became more obsessed with collecting money than with consulting work.

    In my conclusion I used the term “small-business,” which drew this reply, “Hey, it ain’t just ‘small’ business,” he wrote, “the May company’s original model actually created household names [in addition to Sunbeam]. The company “did work early on in each Microsoft, in Harley-Davidson, in Starbucks, in Wal-Mart, in McDonalds, in United Parcel Service, in SouthWest Airlines & so many more that Americans use daily.”

    However, things changed.

    “I was always frustrated, during my tenure there, at how hard we had to work around the abusive culture, created by horrific management practices within GSM, in order to actually help the clients,” another colleague observed. “There were plenty of good and talented people at GSM who did [their] damnedest to help our clients despite the incredible odds that were fostered upon us by archaic, misguided and abusive management practices.”

    Another May executive wrote me, “There is a lot that most people DON’T know about what went on over the last 9-10 years but I’ll have to make that a part of my book.” He suggested that the book would read like a night time soap opera “because no one would believe what has gone on there. It is a regular Dynasty or Dallas.”

    I appreciate the feedback.


  • AG

    Very well written. It was a matter of time until they collapsed. You cannot mistreat most of your clients while “controlling” them. Some of us in our past incarnations surely did work of value, but generally speaking this was a powerful billing machine dedicated to producing boiler plate.

    There was only one cardinal sin to commit while working for the: not to collect on time. That alone speaks volume, and the chapter is now closed on GSMIC, as it will soon close on IPA and all its alphabetical soups of names.

  • It was the “Playhouse 90” on the phone that I always enjoyed. Secret code phrases like “had a very interesting conversation with the client” meant “the client is calling the cops” or “the client says they canceled” were common.

    As you point out, collecting was everything. For a Project Director to physically take a client to the bank to direct deposit funds for the first invoice did it for me in that role.

    Thanks for adding to this.


  • Chet Strader

    It was certainly an interesting piece and unfortunately spoke the truth about the “game”. The saddest part were the good consultants that wanted to bring benefit to thier clients and not kill them in the process who were prevented from doing so.


    Tommy, I left in 1997 along with a huge percentage of the Analysts and Staff/PD’s that were “Doing it right”. Management was actively driving us all out.
    My questions are:
    1. WHY did they actively dump the top 20%+ of their top performers in terms of revenue and quality in 1997? They had to be making money on us!

    2. How did they then hit $100 million? For at least 3 years,1994/5/6, the the core number of Analysts (HAM) was stuck at 50 +/-despite their infamous recruiting efforts.

    3. What convinced the BOD to throw away six years of achievements in quality? This emphasis on quality was a direct response to what the 2+ years of John Burgess had done to GSMIC’s reputation.

    4. When did GSMIC begin this “Race to the Bottom” with IPA?


  • Edward Sielsky

    Who is responsible for the demise of a once great company? The Board of Directors has no one to blame but themselves. Throughout the 90’s there was tremendous growth. At that time we put a lot of effort into quailty. Don Fletcher and I insisted on it. This is not to say we were successful 100% of the time, but we spent a lot on it. Then came Burgess. It soon became appearant who and what he was and I tried to get rid of him and minimize the damage he did. I constrained him a little but he really got rid of himself with his eposide in the board room. This was one step over the line that could not be overlooked by the president.

    After that we really started to grow, despite the huge drain on our time, mostly mine, the legal battles with Burgess became. At this time, quality and competent delivery of service was a priority. Profits soared. A lot of people made a lot of money.

    Around 2000, the board and Dottie Campbell and Sam Jacobs became so accustomed to profits and dividends the likes of which they had never seen before, I believed they came to believe that the company was invincible, profits were automatic and anybody could manage it. In other words, we (basically Fletcher and I) made it look easy. I reminded them every chance I got that it was really a very fragile ballance and any changes must be carefully considered.

    For some reason, they were drawn in and seduced by Kushnir. I believe this was mostly political, they were all of the same stripes and they put those affiliations ahead of sound business judgement. They were certainly warned repeatedly, but they obviously did not listen.

    The family and the board never, never understood the business. They never worked in it and they did not understand it. As a result, they were swayed to certain ways of thinking based on what sounded good with their opinion that the management didn’t really matter, that somehow success was assured just because it was the “May Company.”

    In September of 2001, when they decided that Kushnir was their new boy and put him in charge, is when the end began. Frankly, I was very surprised to see it take almost 10 years. How they could have been so blind, I will never understand. Any interest on quality just stopped. The underhanded tricks that Kushnir had always pulled became corporate culture. It became a big con job. It was say anything at the moment to get the client’s money and don’t worry about the consequences.

    Employees were simply treated in the same manner that Kushnir always thought of them, another pawn to be played.

    Everything this Kushnir/Roseau team did was easily anticipated unless you were a board member. Now just go and read the pleadings on both sides of their suit and counterclaim. Like I said, it’s amazing it lasted as long as it did.

    In the final analysis, they all deserved each other and the result that brings. When you lie down with dogs, don’t be surprised when you get flees.

  • They yanked me out of Alaska to come to Chicago for a weekend pow-wow of Project Directors. Those of us from the Las Vegas office were laid-back compared to the Home office bunch. We wore casual clothes and relaxed at dinner the first night, while the main-plant people wore suits and appeared tense. The main event, the next day at the World Headquarters, presented the Kushnir-Rouseau show that became a pissing contest to see who could berate the PDs more abusively.

    I found it professionally insulting. I remember thinking that those guys were a bunch of wanna-be thugs in suits. I had company desires and they were sitting in my seat. I was wrong. They were not wanna-be thugs.

    When IPA recruited me I was treated better, at first. But it did not take as long to realize that the that bunch of business thugs were just better game players than the ones at May, and certainly greedier. You can dress them up, but that’s all you can do. No class.

    Thanks for weighing in, Ed. I would like to know what Don Fletcher thinks.

    I am a Blogcritics editor and will be building a business feature starting in the culture section, where this article appears. The new feature will publish pieces, such as your comments, that tell the stories of business, as opposed to “sell” the business stories. How a successful company can lose itself is exactly the kind of article I mean. So thanks again for your comments, all of you, and let’s get those stories told.


    • Brent Pettit

      I work for gsmic from Feb 2005 to June 2007.I did very well there. I enjoyed working with clients that believed in what my staff was doing in helping improve their business. The problems came when the home office started to micro-manage what we were doing in the field. I met a lot of good people, some I am still to this day still communicate with them as business friends. When you really care about the client and yes, I buck the system (I was a thorn in the side my Senex) but so what …I felt that we (staff exec) TRULY help the client and thats why I left having a good relationship with a most of them.
      When Mike Habor call me in as a senex in the Vagas office. I did alot the Mike Habor way and we work together as a team. As for my overall experience with the gsmic…I enjoyed working there. I had very few negative or confrontational experiences with both the clients and my managing director. Sometimes i took my own initiative and did what i felt was right. 99 percent of the time I saved the project from closing and in some case pushed the project way beyond the 110 percent bill to sold hours. Some of you out may object to what Ive said here. I truly did my best to serve my clients best interest and usally paid a heavy cussing out price from my senex by doing so. But still, I would do it again if given the chance. Mike Habor always told me that we work for the clients best interest. After all its the clints money and they have right to expect excellent service from us. One other thing I learned from Mike Haber. Clients are people and deserve respect. They need our help but they are not stupid and do not need to be treated as such. We are there to find problems, come up with recommendations and solutions and have them implemented correctly. Then train the proper personel on maintainig those solutions that were recommended after the gsmic is gone. We also instructing the leadership to teach their own staff on an on going bases..
      One last thing, every time Chicago got involved in the Vegas affairs…we notice that in many cases the Vegas office began to fail.
      Intimidation by foul lauguage and name calling of both in-office personel and field personel to get the client to signing a contract that in some cases doesn’t really serve their best interest but are being sold that they really need ours services or their business will surely fail (the big gsmic lie) serving only gsmic financial interest and not their’s I felt was wrong. There were many times I almost walked of the project because of the lack of respect that upper management had toward the pd and staff execs. The only reason I didn’t was that we were there to help them if we could and I was not about to let them down. I was terminated by labach for not going along with something I felt was wrong so in turn I asked for a week of to cool down.when they refused, I gave them my two week notice in writing, within minutes the excelerated my resignation immediatly and told me to leave the project.
      I had six projects I was managing and three of them were way over the 110 percent bill to sold hours and I lost all bonuses that were due me. They cheated me out of my bonus money.
      Brent J Pettit

  • Michael L. Riebs

    Thank you for the well written article, and thank you Mr. Sielsky for the insight from the glamour years.

    As all things are, I guess I would be considered a “Johnny come lately” in the whole GSMIC game. Nonetheless, it was a proud day when I was on that plane for the first time, heading to my first client. THis was what I had been wanting to do for the past 10 years, and now I was finally doing it. I felt that I “had arrived”.

    Little did I know what was in store. Your descriptions of what went on in the offices at the Ridge are as accurate as I have heard them from others who worked there, and who also were friends.

    There were many of us – even in the mid ’00s – who were dedicated to the client, and to truly making a difference with good quality consulting work. Unfortunately that apparently was not what we had been hired to do.

    I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to transfer from HAM to WAM (the Ridge to Las Vegas), and am honored to have worked under Michael Haber. Mr. Haber ran a tidy and tight ship, always ready with the right advice, truly committed to the betterment of the client AND dedicated to improve GSMIC’s bottom line – but not by sending out survey analysts that would lie to the client, telling them that “this will only cost $5,000”, or “we’ll only be here for about 3 days.”

    Mr Haber monitored the majority of the traffic calls, and ensured that the shenanigans pulled off by survey in HQ were not permitted out west – and for some reason, honesty seemed to pay off with the clients.

    I had longer running jobs in WAM than I did at HAM, with clients that had a better understanding of what to expect, and rarely had situations where we would show up, only to close on day 2 or 3. The jobs ran longer as a combination of Haber’s efforts to ensure proper expectations and the fact that we were expected to spend more time providing quality work, than we were to spend on internal paperwork and collecting.

    We had a very good team assembled at WAM. Quite a few competent, quality consultants, most of whom had worked out of the Ridge, and wanted nothing more to do with it.

    When they closed las Vegas and pulled all those who remained back under the control and abuse of HAM, we knew it was only a matter of time before we too would need to find new jobs.

    I never was fired – nor did I quit. My “Chief”, LauBach, “resigned me.” Huh?

    I don’t know whether anyone is aware off this, but Mr. Fletcher owns a new consulting business, having come out of retirement, with the intent of restoring the good name of Consulting, the way it ought to be.

    The new business is: Legacy Analytics

    I am proud to have had the opportunity to work for Mr. Fletcher during the very early phase of his new venture.

  • ITKid

    I worked in the IT Shop at MAY until close to its end. Set up in accounting in the basement for the first few months, I always thought it was somewhat entertaining to have your day randomely broken up with banging and shouting at any given moment. But soon it became kind of awkward like when your parents fought upstairs — couldn’t quite make out the words but you could tell whose turn it was by the alternating high and low frequencies coming thru the ventilation and walls. Ooops…I digress…thought I was in therapy for a moment. Moving on…

    We had some good people in IT, but there was a lot of “looking the other way and doing your job”, even in the face of obvious abnormality. See, we had access to the mechanics behind the madness.

    You’re references to the 60’s culture of management was spot-on as well. This place was a bad imitation of Mad Men, however.

    I’ve moved on but I enjoyed this article, and I actually enjoyed my time at May. Still can’t get over how sad it is to see this once fine company completely crash and burn. If ever in Chicago I’ve love to break bread!

    • Noyabizness

      I worked IT and unless your Fosdick I can’t imagine who else you would be…

  • Kerry Sam Jacobs needs me to write her story. It must be the stuff of television and should be objectively told. The culture of George when she came in to help fly it into the ground is hardly the legacy her grandfather had in mind. I am told stories privately by other George folks, such as ITKid and Michael L. Riebs most recently here, of the blind-siding Kerry Sam got. It surprised me that Chuck Black returned after his being sacked by Israel, but it’s a Chicago tale.

    Thanks for updating it.


  • Jimmy Reves

    This company needed to go out of business. It became a scrouge to society, abused clients and employees and broke people and companies. I am truly sorry for the well meaning and descent employees who worked at the firm, and who wanted to do a good job, but the world is bigger than George is, so society’s interest was served very well with its demise. As for these ‘executives,’ Roseau, Black, Kushner, La Beau and Vaill were simply another type of lunatic parading with some level of legitimacy. Well written article, and I wait for the book.

    Jimmy Me.

  • MyGeorgeStories

    The one constant in every piece written about the once great and now late George S. May International Company is that it suffered from antiquated overbearing management practices. As an alum, who was there when these practices were introduced as “new and improved”, I can certainly attest to the veracity of this statement! By definition, this demands that the story be told from the bottom up and not the top down, sorry Ed. How many times did you say to yourself that we should write a book?!? [Personal contact info deleted] Please DO NOT write if your story is about “washing out” of training, the Internet is replete with your story. I am looking for those who “made it” and “know where the bodies are buried”! “The Rest of the Story” as it were, the absurdity and tragedy of it all. Those from the 1980’s, 1990’s, and 2000’s are encouraged to write. I look forward to hearing from you all to reconnect and collaborate on this effort. Perhaps “sun light” will “disinfect” and potentially resurrect the industry. I am hoping and expecting to hear from: Walter, Paul, Jack, Bruce, Matt, Patrice, Charles, John, Jack, Steve, Coz, Tony, Teresa, Jorge, Tommy, Tom, Max, Beadle, Chuck, Don, Ron, Jan, Bill, Mike, Ray, and the rest of the cast of thousands. In the spirit of fairness, submissions from Brian, Ed, Don, MJ, et al are encouraged as well. For those that fought the good fight alone, let us write the story together! Pass this message along to one and all.

  • Analyst

    My view of the GSM recipe of their own collapse:

    1) The final collapse of GSM is a typical case of what happens to a company when the sale of a service becomes more important than the ongoing relationships with their customers and employees.

    2) Too much greed combined with lack of professional ethics. The GSM senior executives pressured the analysts to convince every potential Client, that they needed the equivalent in medicine to open heart surgery, despite the symptoms were not there. At some point in time, it was clear for the Client that the recommended treatment to cure the sickness was worst than the disease. The project crashed because it was unsustainable before it began, and GSM blamed the Analyst for their inability to convinced the Client. In other words, a Catch 22.

    3) Lack of professional ethic from GSM to their employees. The Analyst had to finance GSM projects with their own credit cards. The GSM promise was to reimbursed their expenses. However, the Analysts had to comply with many hurdles that were fabricated by GSM as a tactic to delay payments and increase GSM cash level.

    Summary of the causes for the collapse:
    • Wrong selling strategy. Pressure every prospect Client to buy a service that is not right for him.
    • Treating Business Analysts as low paid salesmen.
    • High employee turnover.
    • Too much greed.
    • Lack of professional ethics.
    • Lack of vision.

  • gene retske

    I worked for them briefly in the early 2000’s. They were a rip-off then, both for employees and for clients. They said that they would get a dying company’s “last $50k.” I was a consultant, and the turn-over was amazing. I lasted exactly 2 weeks. A week of training in Park Ridge and a week in Mexico, ripping off an old family owned business. The saying was, “there is the right way, the wrong way, and the May way.”

  • Steve Steadman

    First, let me thank you, Tommy, as well as all the other contributors to this blog. For so long, I’ve felt like I was the “Lone Ranger” for feeling mistreated while working for GSMIC. Although the company is long dead, I’m glad I have an opportunity of sharing experiences from my brief tenure with them.

    The recruiter actually contacted me after I had made an inquiry about working for them. I had finished my MBA a couple years prior to this and felt that I had finally arrived to where I needed to be at this point in my career. I had a few problems during training but still managed to graduate. After a few assignments, I was finally starting to get the hang of this (except for a few problems which I was helped with by some very talented PDs). However, these problems probably didn’t earn me a lot of follow-on assignments.
    After six months, I had a restaurant assignment in Idaho with a fellow Staff Executive. We had a difficult time with the opening and the owner called the Ridge to launch a complaint. We were called in to meet with Mr. Rauseo. Apparently, one of the criteria for keeping your job is to maintain your annualized income for the company. My partner’s projection was $9 million while mine was only $4 million. So, I was convinced that I no longer needed to maintain a relationship with the company…much to my relief.

    I enjoyed my time at May. I loved the travel as well as working with our clients. However, the greediness of the company towards their clients and employees was over the top. I hope that many of those affected have been able to recover and move on with their lives.

    If it ever comes out, I’m looking forward to the book and the movie!

  • ExAnalyst

    Thank you for this article.

    I was a single woman in this nightmare being out on the road and at times given crappy direction from the home office. To this day however, I have met some great clients whom I have the honor of calling friends.

    In 2009 I had a client in D.C. who was a very prominent political figure in the Justice Department and his wife had a business we were going to do consulting with. Everything was going well until Rauseo became involved.

    They were bringing in so many people for the project, more than what was called for and on the 56…and none were qualified to accomplish what we were needing. They were bodies.

    When I returned to my hotel room and called my SENEX, Rauseo broke into the call and said, “Hold just a moment while I get the file…” He returned onto the line with 4 other people and started lambasting me and my ignorance. I quietly said I was finished with the phone call as it became more of a bullying session instead of a professional business call and please get my ticket home as I officially quit and would not become a part of the fraud.

    Kushnir then called my hotel room and started in. I didn’t back down one bit. He told me to “shut the f… up – your talking to the president of this company.” I calmly and quietly stated, “I was not aware a company President spoke so blue-collar to his employees and couldn’t he see where I would be confused – but if you will act like a President of a corporation I will be more than happy to treat you as such.”

    This project failed and I had the responsibility of responding to this client – and I assure you, their relationship to the political powers in DC were dinner quests weekly and personal friends. That was October 2009. I was not amazed regarding the downfall of this company under their leadership of Rauseo and Kushnir, along with the employees who supported their philosophy.

    With all this being said, I did enjoy the clients I was able to meet and strove to help. And yes, I kept contact during projects and after projects. When a person pours his/her soul out to you, places a gun in front of you and says this was my next solution to get out of the mess… let’s just say I became emotionally involved. I have no regrets of trying to help these people.

    My best wishes to those who were ethical and trying now to build a consulting company to continue to help those businesses who desperately need guidance. The need is there…we just can’t lose sight of the objective(s).

  • Anne Adcock

    I stumbled upon this article, as the date shows, and read it while just shaking my head. Those who can’t – teach or consult.

    I was a victim of GSMC in 2003. Working for a 3rd generation family owned business. I’d been with them for 5 years. Was in purchasing & inventory control. I answered only to CFO,VP & President. We had excellent communication & good report.

    They wanted to tweak things, bring the Co into 21st century etc. So along came GSMC. The consulting team knew nothing about the business i.e. the products, our customers or the fact that it was basically a mom & pop business built on years of customer service and personal follow-through by salespeople and word of mouth.

    The higher ups are somewhat to fault for that. At first there was just observation & questions: why this, why that? Then full company meeting with intended goals.

    Right after the 1st meeting I went to Pres. Told him my reservations. It didn’t matter to GSMC if we were Sunbeam or Stu’s Body Shop. They could print new policy & procedure handbooks and completely revise chain of command for more efficiency, we were still a tight group, like family. He told me to relax no worries, he was aware. Blah, blah.

    Long story short…… a month later morale very low, employees not happy at all with new”corporate ” rules & reg. The woman consultant did not like me from day one nor I her. She felt I had too much input and beyond my job description, decision powers. I didn’t even have a BA.

    On a vacation day, I was asked to come in for a meeting. I did and was promptly let go. Here’s your final check, pack up your things and was escorted to the door.

    In the room for my firing, the VP and GSMC woman consultant. Honestly, she had a smirk on her face. Highly unprofessional! I called the weasel President, who swore up & down that he was unaware of any of it because with the new chain of command I was directly under other weasel VP.

    The 3rd generation family owned business paid somewhere around $87,000 to GSMC to relieve themselves of me. Only me. 21 employees. I was just 1 too many. I left, GSMC left & all the BS that was implemented, went by the wayside within another month.

    Both GSMC & 3rd generation family business, out of business! Karma might be a real thing. I went back to school, got that BA & then my masters & then my doctorate in pastoral counseling – never looked back. Every cloud, silver lining.

    • Sharon Sullivan

      Amen. God is good! “He shuts doors that no man can open and opens doors that no man can shut” (Isaiah 22:22).

  • RL Barrett

    I am not surprised by what I have read here. I joined GSMay in December 2007, quit in January 2008. They professed themselves to be a “driven” company. What I discovered in a few weeks is that the leadership group for the analysts made the characters in Boiler Room look like the staff at World Vision.

    Money was the only concern. To them every company needed extensive consulting services. Their business model was demented and their methods nefarious. They wanted analyst to sell the services of people they would not allow us to meet (they did not want members from one division to talk to members of another (big RED FLAG for me). The worst part was making scripted phone calls in front of prospective clients (essentially for the client to overhear our discussion. When I said it was manipulative, they screamed at me. A treat I had missed since basic training in the service.) I said I could not sell something I did not believe in; and was not permitted to fully research. They did need an outside consultant. RLB

  • I had a brief encounter as an Analyst with GSMay Redwood City in 1991. Believe I worked for 3 months. During the 1 week training I made friends with some of the 23 that started with me. Unfortunately, 3 were let go without a return flight ticket, which was explained during the recruiting process. If you failed the training, you had to pay your own way home.
    After about 1 month I was the only person left from that class. Everyone else quit or was fired. I was successful, made some good money, but had one major problem: They sent me mainly into Candada (Alberta, British Columbia) and Utah or Colorado. Didn’t keep their promise to send me home (to La Jolla) for the weekend. Week after week I was out selling their services with that strange Executive Analyst business model, but instead of a flight home they gave me another assignment and kept me where I was. With 2 pairs of socks and 2 shirts. Dreadful. Finally I had it and quit. Never looked back.

  • Michael Otto

    Mr. Mack,
    I worked for GSM from 1978 to 1987 and again from late 2006 to 2008. A lot had changed. It was no longer the old GSM I enjoyed working for the first time. I do remember Mr. Sielsky very well.
    When is your book coming out?
    Michael Otto

  • Keith Szyperski

    I worked for GSM from September, 2008 until I was released on December 24, 2010. I later learned that my health insurance (for which I paid a portion of) had been cancelled October 1.
    The push during that time was to “Keep the Job Open at all costs” and those who were able to do that were richly rewarded. Those like myself who performed efficiently and taught the client how to manage their business on their own were shuffled from bad client to worse. Several times, I had 3 different new clients in a week – none of them with any money to pay us.
    The objective of the “analysts” was to sign up new clients, promising them anything that would get us in the door. Us consultants were then placed in an impossible position.
    When I started, the median longevity period for a consultant was 2 1/2 weeks. This was a nightmare.
    Aside from that, I met some wonderful clients and was able to help them turn their business around, tweak what worked or just get a better handle on what could have easily slipped away.
    I learned quite a bit along the way and say some beautiful parts of the country. I’d say “I love the work, but hate the job”.
    Between the Health Insurance, short paid commissions and non-paid expenses, they still owe me around $9,000.00.

  • Sharon Sullivan

    I worked there too, in March 2006, for ten whole days, after the training.

    My first clue that things were amiss came on Day 1. A small town contractor practically threw me and my collegue out the door after he heard who we represented.

    By the end of the week, I’d made my first “sale” (worth $900, to me). They got my faxed “contract,” duly signed by the victim but their team lost them on the phone, the next day (after she got on-line, I assume, and checked on their reputation).

    It was straight commission, of course. So when I never saw my $900, they never saw me again, either.

  • Jim Kelling

    Jim Kelling

  • Jim Kelling

    I started as a salesman with GSM in 1984 and stayed with them for a little over a year. The business card said Special Representative, Field Services Department. Training was one week and even before that was over internal politics broke out and it wasn’t pretty.

    The job was cold calling – door to door canvasing. Once in with a qualified prospect it was supposed to be hardcore selling. Don’t leave until you get a signature. If you need help call your Regional Sales Manager on the spot. Stay until you get a signature or get thrown out. First call sales were supposed to be the only option. They weren’t though.

    I had a pretty good go-ahead rate. That kept me going moneywise. The longer I was at it, the more frequently I ran into unhappy previous clients who enlightened me about the process and the fictious Execution Council. I also ran into some very happy previous clients and that helped keep me going. References were taboo and malarchy was thick. It finally became apparent the fit for me wasn’t there.

    I met some very good people at GSM and made some good friends there too. I
    still believe in the value and benefits that can come from external
    consultants who put their clients before the bucks.

  • Brian Ielts

    I Worked for GSMIC in Sales for about 7 yrs, from 1995 to 2002, as I recollect. The culture in Park Ridge seemed a bit different when I started, than the year I quit. I made many trips there as an ADM for reporting, training and some research.. Although the Sales Dept was strictly forbidden from returning to a client or from communicating with another dept, during the latter years I often did it anyway, because of my suspicions about why the Sales force who fed everyone up the line had no right to know what became of the clients.
    As time passed, it became apparent that a new mentality had taken control: “Get the money first, get as much as you can and to hell with the clients.” More and more former clients were encountered after 2000, who hated GSMIC with a passion and who threatened to call the police or to undertake physical force against us if we didn’t exit the premises immediately. In some cases, I was able to prevail upon the formers to tell me their stories and most of them either approached breaking down emotionally or actually came to tears when relating their “GSM consulting service” nightmare. These are strong people I’m talking about, mostly top managers, CEO’s and Presidents with years of experience running multi-million dollar companies.
    However, I don’t think the change at World HQ was as great as implied by Ed Sieklsky. The May Company MO was always to get the money first and even at the outset, it was clear to me that at least some of the management in Park Ridge approved of all sorts of deceit and dishonesty to get the client on the hook. I didn’t see that I was required to emulate such methods however and as long as I didn’t have to do that, I stayed, because frankly, the money was good until the last year, when the “Go Ahead” rate began to decline and sales were harder to come by.
    From what I learned, even at the outset, this company engaged in a range of questionable management practices and strategic errors, such as intimidation and exaggeration (both of employees and clients) long before Burgess came along and while Fletcher was still at the helm. I really think the reason this scam company existed as long as it did is because no one, except those at the top, really knew the extent of the deceit, the trail of destroyed lives and ruined businesses left behind by GSMIC
    Due to the obsession with secrecy about methods and operations, it was very difficult for clients and potential clients to discover the truth about what this company did. But the internet changed everything and it was the one thing that GSMIC could not figure out how to bamboozle and trick. With the advent of the internet, the days were numbered for this scourge on American business. I take nothing away from the many honest and professional people I met over the years in all departments, who did strive to deliver value for their clients. But when it came to the point that professional judgment and ethics had to go out the window to serve unbridled profit, the end was nigh and the internet finally delivered the truth to the world. When thugs get control of an entire organization, be it a government or a corporation, it is doomed.

  • At a business convention where I spoke a former McKenzie consultant who’d brought in some giant clients told for them told me a few of the war stories, then he shared with me that in his opinion the firm that was best at selling consulting was the George S May Company. Based on that and a little knowledge about them from a college research paper and a friend who was working there, I decided to try and get hired as a business analyst, the 2nd in their three part selling/consulting structure.

    I was hired and worked for about a year with two assignments a week in the western U.S. always being flown in, leaving Sunday evening and getting back late Friday evening or Saturday. It was the best sales training and experience I’ve ever had, I did well in the field, but just couldn’t take the grind of constant travel, intense work, long, long hours. And a job like that brings the defects of a marriage to the surface, there were real problems, and a few years later we divorced.

    But it very much seemed to me the company did good work. I had a couple of assignments where the father was bringing us in to help his son get a good start because that was what his father was done for him. They were trying to impliment a new system to provide more infomation to clients and ongoing revenue for the company, they interuped our training to show it to our class. They showed feature, said that had installations. I asked, “how’s that working out for the companies where it is installed,” a source of much glee from our instructor, and I wonder if that system might not have been the start of their demise.

    Seems like 3 women in the family had taken over control, but that could be wrong.

    I was with them was in late 80s, at that time they still had a proud history and saw themselves at that time as being the Marine Corp of business, and I think they did do a lot of good for a lot of small business owners, their target was private businesses with 10 to 100 employees. Since the 20s they were the largest and when I was with them the oldest consulting firm devoted exclusively to small business. Very sad the company came to such an unfortunate end, George S. May was a true American business hero, in my opinion.

  • Just another prime example of how companies and brands that seem like they’ll stick around forever…don’t!

  • ConservativeRep

    I went through analyst training in August 2001. I was given some pretty bad clients including a company that had an analyst come out once before. I took Monday Sep 10th off for my daughters birthday. They called and had a business I could drive to the next morning near San Diego. So I heard Sep 11 unfold on the radio and saw it at the customers neighborhood grocery store – they had a TV playing up on the wall so I was distracted. The “owner” was really just a manager – his uncle was the real owner. Anyway I was not happy with the sales method and with what was going on in NY I quit. I have since bought a cd from an independent consultant that used to work for GSM and he had added his own files and he was selling his files to people that wanted to become a consultant. The new holdings company I am a partner with is going to start a consulting division. We are going to do it a much better way. Check out Nash Holdings Inc.

  • TexasRay

    Great Piece of writing….thanks Tommy. The comment “Grow Hair” is really funny. Thanks again.

  • Bob

    I had an interesting experience with IPA. When my brother-in-law told me he was going to work for GSM, I was guarded, but I knew he was ethical. As a Christian who lives his faith in personal AND business relationships, I figured he would either stop before completing training or be successful.

    When he started he really enjoyed it. But the 2007/2008 recession hit hard in our area. He still enjoyed some success, but he took it hard when he would go re-visit earlier clients only to find some of them “shuttered”. When his boss came to my Mom’s place for dinner and drinks one night, I had a hard time believing my brother-in-law could respect him, let alone like him.

    When my brother-in-law told me they had cancelled everyone’s health insurance Christmas Eve (or maybe the day before) and he had almost zero time to find anything on the spot< I was not at all surprised when he said he quit. Not sure if they owed him money, but he also said that he heard through the grapevine that GSM was shutting down.

    I found it sad. Business owners may feel these consultants are pushy or hucksters (some probably are). But I harken back to something my father told me (Dad and I worked together for 20+ years) about sales reps/salespeople/cold-callers: they're just trying to make a living. How can you automatically "penalize" or mistreat someone for that?

    I was pretty rude to the IPA folks, but I regret it in the case of the gentleman who originally came to my office. He was kind and empathetic with the fact I had lost my father/business partner, and seemed genuinely interested in working with us. It was what I read in between that visit and the "free survey" that swayed me. Their "follow-up" only confirmed most of what I read. But..when the original rep called me, I was short with him and treated him the same way I treated the "home office" folks (who actually were lying and conning and conniving). He certainly didn't deserve that, I some times wonder if he stayed with IPA, and how things have gone for him.