Herman Cain’s performance as CEO was rather dismal

John beat me to the sexual harassment story, but while I was poking into it, I discovered something rather odd about Cain’s previous CEO gig, the one at Godfather’s Pizza his career is based on.

According to Wikipedia, when Cain took over as CEO in 1986 the chain had revenues of $272 million which were cut to $242 million after cost cutting measures reducing the number of stores to 563. At the end of his tenure as CEO, revenues were $265 million for 540 stores. That is revenue growth of 1%/year and same store sales growth of 1.6%. He didn’t even keep pace with inflation. (For more information see here.)

A CEO who starts from nothing and builds a quarter billion business is definitely a big deal other executives want to learn from. A CEO who starts and ends in the same place after a decade in the job is not.

A quarter billion dollars a year in revenue is not exactly negligible, but it isn’t major league in the business world or in government. It is on the small size for a division in a Fortune 500 company. It is on the small size for a government agency budget.

Again, building a company that size from scratch is quite the achievement. Merely running the show for eight years without growth is not. During Cain’s tenure managing Godfather’s for Pilsbury, the chain slipped from fourth place nationally to sixth. During his tenure as CEO of the private company it slipped to eighth.

In effect Cain merely moved sideways from his position as a mid level manager at Pilsbury running the Godfather’s brand to essentially the same job in a private company. The rank CEO is totally meaningless, what matters is what you are CEO of.

If someone is running for President based on their skills and experience as a CEO, shouldn’t they be one of the thousand or so ex-CEOs who ran a large company successfully?

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