The Dead Company Club

The Company is Gone But We Live On.

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The Recession is Over, Right?

April 4th, 2011 · Company profiles, New members

liquidation sale signIncredible, isn’t it? I went to update the Memorial Garden, the list of dead companies, today. I expected a quick stop to record the demise of a few more companies. After all, the recession is over, isn’t it?

More than 100 tombstones later, I’m defeated. Companies continue to close, although the rate is slowing. Almost 1.5 million businesses closed in 2009 (2010 data not yet available, the statisticians must have closed shop). California, Florida, and New York were the net losers, with over 400,000 company closures.

Behind these failed companies are real stories of lives affected, some suffering far worse than others, Circuit City’s bankruptcy being one I’m close to.

But from this corporate rubble, two stories grabbed my attention. The first is Dolcis Shoes, a UK company that started in 1863. The company had been steadily losing money while expanding, right up to the financial meltdown and credit crunch. It closed in early 2008.

The Dolcis story – although quite a bit more upscale – reminded me of the movie, “Kinky Boots,” about a UK shoe company that has been hiding its losses by stashing unsold inventory in warehouse closets. When the founder’s son inherits the business, it is about to go under. However, along comes a savior of a most unexpected sort. Unfortunately, Dolcis didn’t find their good samaritan.

The other business failure is a common one, a European soccer club. HFC Haarlem was a Dutch club, started in 1889. They were declared bankrupt in 2010. I imagine a lot of sweat, muddy uniforms and curses haunt their playing fields after all those years. Many “football clubs” have filed for bankruptcy in recent years. I don’t know why – if you do, please let us know by adding a comment below.

Football – the kind with the round ball – is big business. According to Forbes’, Manchester United is the most valuable football club in the world, with an estimated value of $1.83 billion, followed by Real Madrid at $1.32 billion and Arsenal at $1.18 billion. Big expenses, big revenues. It makes sense that a world-wide recession would reduce ticket sales, advertising revenue and sportswear sales.

In the headlines, there are several notable business failures in recent months. BlockBuster and Hollywood Video, the storefront video rental companies, lasted much longer than I expected. With online services like NetFlix serving movies over the Internet to your TV or computer, and on-demand movies from the broadband carriers, I don’t know how they managed to hang around. Ironically, while BlockBuster cratered, I watched more and more Redbox kiosks appear. Redbox offers $1 overnight rentals of DVDs, with a limited selection of popular movies and recent releases.

I couldn’t ignore one final story, if only for the cheap shot taken in the reporting of the bankruptcy. In the Atlanta Bankruptcy Law News, Stephen Tanner reports:

“Anyone who has had the displeasure of dealing with debt collection firms will relish in the news that debt collector Hudson & Keyse LLC has gone bankrupt…”

I suspect that anyone who had been on Hudson & Keyse’s call list was relieved that the calls have ended. They might have felt like the company got what they deserved. But let’s face it: the people who worked for Hudson & Keyse probably didn’t enjoy being hated by the people they had to call. They worked for Hudson & Keyse because they needed a job, and that’s what they could get. Their former employees are welcome to The Dead Company Club too.

What are the latest stories about the “non-recession” from the field?

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Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

July 15th, 2010 · Motivation, Uncategorized

Steve Jobs keynote address to Stanford University theme is to do what you love.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”                                           — Steve Jobs

If you’re wondering what your next job should be, or suspect/know you’ve settled for a job that’s  “good enough,” watch this video. It’s a short speech. Then tell us if you:

  1. Agree and are already following this advice
  2. Agree but have responsibilities that demand you put your calling on hold, so to speak
  3. Are too worried/anxious/repressed/traumatized to let yourself even listen to the entire message
  4. Disagree and wish to tell him where he’s wrong
  5. Think he’s a fool

Laurie Phillips writes for and about businesses. She spends too much time ricocheting around the Internet.

chilly photo courtesy of flikr.com/fhisa

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Ready to Resume Your Career?

July 8th, 2010 · Coping, Finding a job, Solutions

Help for finding a new job is here

“Help is on the way, Dear. Help is on the WAYYYYY!”                                                      — Mrs. Doubtfire

Here at The Dead Company Club, we mourn the passing of your former company, be it Land of Leather or Lehman Brothers. If you’ve rebounded and can be philosophical about the experience, that’s awesome. If you think I’m full of it for even suggesting such a state of mind is possible, read on.

Being out of work involuntarily isn’t fun, even if there are lots of others in your ‘hood mowing the grass mid-morning. So stop refreshing your inbox, click over to ILostMyJob.com and let them help. They are there to stabilize, restore and ready you to resume your career or start a new one.

ILostMyJob.com offers suggestions, directions, consultations and useful advice.  “Our mission is to do good for people who have lost their jobs, are involuntarily unemployed, and/or are taking steps to getting back to productive employment.”

Their content is a must-bookmark if you’re working on a full-time job search (Is there any other kind?).  For instance, if you’re timid about salary negotiations, you might want to read their article first before you follow our example of a job counteroffer.

Have you found other job-seeker sites that are worthy of mention?


Laurie Phillips writes for and about businesses. She specializes in all kinds of stuff.

Thanks to our fun foto provider, gruntzooki at flikr.com.

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Interview Tips for Club Members

June 17th, 2010 · Finding a job, War stories

Confessions of a recruiter and how to respond

Insiders’ Interview Tips



Going for an interview? Then “True Confessions of a Recruiter,” by Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio is a must-read. Connie, a former Fortune 500 recruiter, confesses how she weeds out candidates starting the first second she sees them.

No Debby Downers

As a Dead Company Club member you have unique experiences that can be booby traps in an interview.  Watch out for the invitation to complain about how your company failed, how employees got screwed and how bad your life got.  Even though you may have a strong opinion about who is to blame, hold that thought. According to Connie, “anything negative will immediately shift me to the next candidate.”

Do you know your strengths?

Rolling your eyes isn’t an answer to the question, “Tell me about your strengths.” Recruiters expect a thoughtful, serious answer, and you have something unique to offer.

Remember: you’ve been through the fire. When your company died, your assumptions and plans blew up. You had to start over, maybe reeducate, possibly relocate.  You discovered you can march through dramatic changes. You’re more aware of risks and appreciate contingency planning now. Your expectations of an employer have changed. Non-members can’t offer these strengths.

Seeing the good in your hard-won experience — and not whining — might be what wins the job.

Laurie Phillips writes for and about businesses. She is a multi-time member of The Dead Company Club.

cool photo courtesy of flikr.com/emilio_labrador

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Surprise! Companies Are Still Closing!

May 12th, 2010 · Losing a job, New members

“History is merely a list of surprises.”                 –Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

This March, The Wall Street Journal Blog, “Laid Off and Looking” ended. They had followed out-of-work professionals and their struggles to move on. Their readers, a fraternity of survivors, were bummed. “Do not shut this sucker down” was one response. “Pls do not shut this blog down. I need it.” What’s the WSJ missing?

Then a couple of weeks ago, The Vault discontinued their blog, Pink Slipped, which gave job leads and tips for Pink Slippers.  They stated:

“The economic conditions that served as the founding raison d’etre … increasingly seem to be waning.”

I tentatively agreed. The headlines didn’t blare business obituaries like last year. Sure, there are substantial companies like Goldman and Ernst & Young that are facing the big bad wolf, but collapse seems unlikely.

So I was surprised when I started updating The Memorial Garden, our list of dead companies. The number of newly closed companies is mind boggling.

Have corporate failures become second page news? If you’re among the 2010 company bankruptcies, liquidations or flat out busts, what is your story?

Laurie Phillips writes for and about businesses. She is a multi-time member of The Dead Company Club.

cool and creative photo courtesy of flikr.com/bensonkua

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