George Zimmer photo courtesy of the Milken Institute
I had to do a double-take when I found out that Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer had been terminated from his position as executive chairman.
The man has been selling suits for my entire life, dating back to 1973. That raspy voice, that full beard, those dapper-looking suits. "You're going to like the way you look; I guarantee it."
I guarantee that voice will be missed. He was the Men's Wearhouse for all those years beckoning patrons to suit up in the 1,143 stores across the country.
I don't know the ins and outs of what took place behind closed doors and I understand that some people can be hungry for change, but if it ain't broke don't fix it.
At the time of this writing, Men's Wearhouse stock sat at $36.69, which is close to the company's 52-week high of $38.59. That's about as high as the stock has been since hitting $52.18 in June 2007 and much better than the $10.64 low in 2008. In other words, the company seems to be doing pretty well.
Beyond that, I always appreciated the way Zimmer shunned background checks of his employees, which is unusual in retail. The company is also one of Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For this year. It seems to me Zimmer was hugely responsible for that.
It's not the first time that a founder has been ousted from a successful company. Steve Jobs alleged that he was fired from Apple in 1985, although that is disputed, only to return when the company acquired Jobs' startup company called NeXT. Earlier in the year, Andrew Mason got booted from Groupon, and even the late Carl Karcher was let go in the early '90s from fast-food chain Carl's Jr., a company he founded in the 1950s.
I'm going to guess this isn't the last we'll hear from Zimmer. In fact, I guarantee it.
The Men's Wearhouse finally released a clearer picture on why they say Zimmer was terminated from the company, saying Zimmer wanted to take the company private and that he did not support the current CEO. We have a guess where this is headed. In the meantime, here is the company's news release on the matter.