The following is an issue brief I prepared in an attempt to correct huge errors in claims made against Mitt Romney regarding what happened with American Pad & Paper (Ampad) and Bain Capital. Many don’t care about the gross factual errors on this issue. I do. I am the public relations expert who actually planned and executed the reorganization and restructuring of Ampad in 2005. I was there, on the factory floor, when we told employees. This is the true story. This piece is necessarily LONG. I apologize in advance. I used bullets to help with readability. I doubt most of you will get all the way through it. I understand. For those of you who care, here is the story.
The Issue & Purpose of This Brief
- This brief covers the January 20, 2005 closure of Ampad’s main manufacturing facility in Holyoke, MA and the downsizing of one of its distribution facilities in Mattoon, IL for which I was directly responsible for the planning, content and execution of all communication and public relations activities related to the event.
- The primary purpose of this brief is to provide first-hand information, facts and context on what happened at these Ampad events to facilitate more accurate reporting and fact-based refutation of erroneous political rhetoric on the issue (a tall order indeed).
- I was compelled to provide this information upon viewing the coverage of the issue in the very first GOP Presidential Primary debate airing on Fox News Channel, wherein this issue was used as a negative example of Governor Romney’s record of achievement at Bain Capital. A graphic with certain “facts” were used and Governor Romney was questioned by Juan Williams on the subject.
- While some (few more accurately), in my opinion, have been “fair and balanced” on its coverage of the issues, based on available data, it is my hope to provide additional facts that will clarify what really happened, Governor Romney’s role (more accurately his lack thereof), and assist in tightening the fact set to improve its coverage on this issue.
- Further inaccuracies were perpetuated by the feature length video produced by the Gingrich camp during the primary, along with Governor Perry’s claims against Bain as “vulture capitalists” – many of which have since been proven to be false and/or misleading by a number of media outlets and pundits, gave additional motivation for me to provide you with this brief.
- This brief covers two perspectives: 1) What actually happened in the foregoing Ampad events, and 2) Any direct or indirect role of Bain Capital and or Governor Romney.
Who I Am and My Role and Responsibilities in This Issue
- Professionally, I am President of my own public relations firm and a nationally recognized expert in crisis and stakeholder communications, working predominately for corporations and their management in a wide array of issues. I founded the firm in May, 2008 after 22 years working for large PR firms such as Hill and Knowlton, Weber Shandwick and the like. I won’t bore with more detail here – you can find all you need to know about me on my web site at http://www.nscottjones.com
- Politically, I have served numerous local, state and national GOP candidates as a PR consultant, staff and/or political appointee during the past 2.5 decades. I have worked for three US presidents (40, 41 & 43) and two Texas governors in various capacities. I served two terms as Chairman of the Texas Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division appointed by Texas Governor W.P. Clements in 1987 at age 27, and subsequently re-appointed and designated Chairman by then-Governor George W. Bush in 1996. In 2008 I was an inaugural member of Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential Exploratory Committee. DISCLOSURE: In 2012, I am supporting the nomination and election of Governor Romney as POTUS. Please note, I have no official role with the campaign, do not communicate with his staff, and do not represent his campaign in any way. I am helping him raise some money in Texas and will vote for him. That is all.
- With regard to Ampad specifically, in 2004 my former firm, at which I served as an Executive Vice President and head of PR operations, was engaged to assist Ampad in planning, executing and communicating its decision to consolidate its distribution and close its main manufacturing facility in Holyoke, MA.
- I served as our firm’s engagement manager with Ampad, and was responsible for all facets of the planning, content, execution and communication of the announcement. I reported directly to then-Ampad CEO , and its Executive VP for Operations. I was there on the factory floor, at the Holyoke facility on January 20, 2005, when we addressed employees and announced the closure. I also served as the company spokesperson with various news media during these events. In Mattoon, IL, we simultaneously closed a distribution facility, but maintained a manufacturing facility in Marion, IN. I sent a second team to address employees there. The remainder of this brief will outline, if not detail the plan that was executed related to these events.
- Please note that I currently have no role or involvement with Ampad today, nor have I since the engagement of 2004/2005 and the events covered by this brief. I am not aware of, nor have I been involved, in any events at Ampad that may have occurred since that time.
The Facts & Events at Ampad in January 2005
- In the second half of 2004, Ampad, and I am assuming in consultation with Bain Capital, the decision was made to close the company’s main manufacturing facility in Holyoke, MA and a distribution facility in Mattoon, IN, and consolidate distribution under a new third-party model the company had developed. (Please see the Business Wire News Release attached)
- The closing of the Holyoke facility was particularly sensitive, in that company was originally founded there in 1888. Approximately 135 employees at the Holyoke facility were impacted, along with approximately 40 employees at the distribution facility in Mattoon, IL.
- It is important to note that Mitt Romney had NO ROLE in this decision and, in fact, had been separated from Bain Capital for more than FIVE YEARS at the time of these events. I had no contact with Romney during my engagement and his presence in the decision process was non-existent.
- Contrary to claims by political opponents, the demise of Ampad was in no way an asset play or liquidation (so-called “vulture capitalism”) – as evidenced by Bain’s operation of the company for more than a decade. Its demise was predominately driven by the global commoditization of office paper products, driven by cheap foreign imports, with which the company was forced to compete.
- Neither was the closure decision effected immediately – closing immediately, leaving employees abruptly unemployed, without notice. At the announcement on January 20, 2005, we told the employees the facility would cease operation in 60 days, during which time normal operations would continue, as would normal compensation. Employees continued to receive their paychecks during this time, with the notice allowing the two months to seek other employment, Further, transfers to open positions in the company’s Marion, IN manufacturing facility were offered to the Holyoke employees.
- While having to notify employees of operational changes and/or job losses is never a good day, by reasonable standards, Ampad was sensitive to the impact on its employees and offered certain benefits to mitigate the impact, including: 60 days’ notice of closing, transfers to open jobs at other facilities, severance pay based on length of service with the company, free outplacement and job search assistance and payment of all accrued benefits.
- As stated, I was there at the announcement in Holyoke, MA. The employees were obviously disappointed with the decision and the impact it would have. They acted professionally, without incident and we answered their questions. I subsequently handled a number of local and regional news media interviews.
- This is my first-hand account of the facts and events relating to Bain Capital’s decision on the operations of Ampad.
My Editorial Opinion
- It is both disappointing and maddening to see the lack of accuracy and precision of the political claims and subsequent reporting on Mitt Romney’s role and responsibilities with regard to both Ampad and GST Steel.
- BOTH examples are erroneous in their claims, and are examples wherein he had NO ROLE in the decisions, in that he had long departed Bain Capital when they occurred.
- Nearly eight out of 10 investments where Romney had a role were successes – not too bad of a record in the world of high risk venture capital if you ask me.
- Further, the principal at Bain Capital when these events occurred is a bundler and fundraiser for OBAMA, not Governor Romney.
- It would be unconscionable for me to sit idly by and not provide you with what I know, given the rhetoric, half-truths and outright fabrications to continue to occur.
- It is my humble hope that this information will, in some small way, serve to improve the factual reporting on these issues.
Well there you have it. If you made it this far, you probably deserve a medal. When Team Obama attacks Romney’s record at Bain Capital, dismiss it — their claims are either incomplete, fabricated or outright lies. Dismiss them. Most claims asserted occurred after he left, the others are likely distorted. Thanks for reading.