Nobody Ever Told Me That Before

Nobody Ever Told Me That Before

After another two years Seibert was running his third district one of the most productive in the nation. He now worked out of Toledo. His visibility increased as several important new stores were opened in Ohio, with the New York brass continually dropping in.

One day Cece Wright called from New York. "Don, I have a special assignment for you. I want you to go out to Indianapolis and deal with Ted Allen."

"Allen?" repeated Seibert, immediately fearing this order.

"He's violating company policy. He's buying merchandise not authorized by the company and from some who are not even company vendors . I want you to get this straightened out."

"But Mr. Wright, are you sure I'm right for this?"


"I mean, does Ted Allen even know who I am?"

"Don, you're a hot young DM now running one of the most important districts. Ted Allen knows who you are. Get out there and call me when you're finished."

"Yes, sir." Seibert hung up with a heavy heart. Allen ran one of the company's six biggest stores, earning a very big comp check [2] every year. He was also of the Homer TorreyJack Maynard school, known for his maverick ways. Seibert was 36. Allen was 20 years older and a strong personality. The DM had no hopes for the assignment.

Seibert was in the manager's office a day later. "Well, I can't imagine why they sent you here," Allen said sarcastically in a gruff voice. "But I know where you've been, Don, and you've never been in a big store before."

"That's true."

"Furthermore, you have no idea what I'm up against here. Nobody seems to."

"Fine," said Seibert. "We need to understand it, so please . Tell me everything. Despite what you may think, I'm here to help, Mr. Allen."

There was some additional back-and-forth, and then the manager let loose, angrily at first, then reasonably and in a voice that belied the stress he was under.

Seibert then went down to look over the women's accessories area on the main floor. Next he shopped the downtown competition, noting that there were 30 or 40 accessory items at different prices compared to a mere 6 on the J. C. Penney price list. Allen had often tried Penney sources in hopes of finding items the company wasn't buying. Nothing. So, in order to compete , he was compelled to buy outside the company sphere.

Seibert shook Allen's hand late in the day and flew back to Toledo, where he outlined his report. First thing the next morning, he called Wright in New York.

"Hello, Don. How'd it go?"

"Pretty good, Mr. Wright."


"ButCeceI have a surprise. I'm about to type up a report that says, yes, Ted Allen is violating policy, but he's right and we're wrong."


"We are. The company needs to send a buyer out there and work with Allen to figure out a way to offer the stuff that he needs."

After a pause, Wright said, "Well, nobody ever told me that before." But Wright took the advice.

[2] Penneyese for profit sharing. For a store manager, profit sharing wasn't systemwide but related specifically to his store. Managers got a generous cut (based on a formula relating to store size , market, etc.); the better the store did, the better the manager did. If you ran one of the giant stores well, you got a giant check each year.

Celebration of Fools. An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
ISBN: 0814471595
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 177
Authors: Bill Hare © 2008-2017.
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