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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NATALIE WOOD, E. GLAZER, G. BUSH, EMIDIO GASPARI

Before I accepted the publisher's post at GAM, I was a " professional" manager of Little League teams. It was a passion that I pursued for more than 10 years.  I loved working with 10 to 12 year-old kids and the job taught me a great deal. You didn't need all-stars, not that couple of MVPs wouldn't hurt, but the key to winning was teamwork. Every one had to play their position and fill the role the manager asked them to fill. We applied those same principles at Graphic Arts Monthly, and we all did our fair share. The score card in baseball was replaced by general ledgers, profit and loss statements, market share reports and the letters, which I urged the sales people to write to their clients. I had discovered early on that sales call reports were mostly fiction, but copies of follow-up letters covering what discussed in visits to advertisers revealed reality.

In August I began to notice a downward shift in market share in Emidio Gaspari's territory in the Chicago office. I also noticed some very large expenditures in his expense reports. I called a number of times to discuss the two  situations. Either he was avoiding my calls or he was working his ass off. I expected it was the first of the two, so I phoned Mike O'Hara, the other salesman in the Midwest. Mike made some excuses for him, but I finally uncovered that Emidio's second wife had left him, and Emidio wasn't handling it very well. (His first wife had passed away seven years earlier and he had married her best friend.) He was an unusual guy, well built, stocky and carried a knife in his belt buckle. He made for an a-typical sales person though he gave a great presentation without much knowledge of the industry.

I began corresponding with Emidio, sending him a barrage of memos. They included ideas and  instructions on improving the areas that needed work...  market share, better sales letters and greater knowledge of of the  printing. industry. And we kept a red folder with all of that correspondence.   Most of my memos were ignored and none were answered. Shortly thereafter, one of his expense reports appeared on my desk. It was unforgettable because of a $700 lunch at the  Palm  Restaurant in Chicago. His guests were Shelly Khan of Mandabach and Simms,  an ad agency with several accounts, and a couple of others, whose names I didn't recognize. I phoned Shelly on the pretense of checking future advertising schedules. In passing, I asked, "Have you seen Emedio lately?" He answered, "Not for a few weeks." And I knew I had a problem.

As I've previously noted, I urged sales people to have dinner dates with clients at industry exhibits. During Graph Expo, Emedio, Paul Holder from our Cleveland office and Ron Andriani, one of our NYC stars, arranged a family dinner, each bringing a guest who was a customer. The restaurant they had  chosen was The Palm in Chicago.. It was more entertainment than selling  but being with advertisers is what counted..  They  invited me to join them. I was seated facing the wall with caricatures of celebrities that frequented the eatery. Looking right back at me were Natalie Wood, George H.W. Bush, and Ernest Glazer, all of them surrounding our very own Emidio Gaspari. What no one else knew was that I had met three of the four. Though I had never run into Natalie Wood, I had met George Bush several times and  "Pudgy" Glazer, as he was known in college, not only graduated from Ohio State, but he was also a fraternity brother.  Our check exceeded $1400, which was split three ways among the sales people.

At the time Pudgy was a pharmaceutical executive with Pfizer. I called to say hello, told him I had seen his puss on the wall of the Palm. I asked how often he ate there and how much he had spent in the last year. He asked if I was working with the IRS and I explained the reason for of my question. He said he was there about once a week, and estimated he had spent $10,000 during the past year. When I returned to my office, the accounting department sent me, copies  of Emidio's expense reports. His Palm receipts were nearly $12,000. Another memo went to Chicago banning Emidio from future visits to the palm. (Tomorrow the saga continues and it gets worse.)