Herman Cain!’s Pizza Time Theatre

One of the oddest claims — not weirdest, but oddest — from Herman Cain!’s press conference Tuesday was that dark forces are working to deny him the White House because he’s a “businessman”.

Cain! also said that as the leader of The Other NRA, he spent most of his time giving speeches.

Which leads us to wonder: How long has it been since Herman Cain! was a practicing businessman?

Answer: Sixteen years. He left Godfather’s Pizza in 1995.

In the process of hunting down the date — we were curious when the Statute of Limitations expires on that claim — we stumbled across an interesting article about Herman Cain!’s years in the corporate saddle:

Tim McMahon, who was Godfather’s marketing director under founder Willy Theisen, told The World-Herald that Cain[!], though charismatic, “simply doesn’t register as a significant force” in Godfather’s success.

McMahon, now an associate business professor at Creighton University, said that Theisen built Godfather’s into a national restaurant chain and that it was longtime executive Ronald Gartlan, now CEO, “who provided the operational stability and focus on customer satisfaction over the long haul.”

That would be the Omaha World-Herald, if you’re not familiar with the paper. Because Omaha is just the place you would expect to be the corporate home of a national pizza chain. Especially a pizza chain named for a fictional Italian-American gangster.

To be fair — one of our weaknesses — the article gives Cain! some credit for the chain’s success. But notice how the pie is sliced:

Omahan Rick Ellis, whose advertising agency worked for Godfather’s under Cain[!], said Cain[!] and Gartlan each had a role:

Gartlan “was closely tied to operations, making sure everything was right, the bricks-and-mortar stuff. He wanted to make sure the franchises were on a firm financial footing, food costs were in line, rent, labor. He was really good at tightening up that part.”

Ellis said Cain[!] worked directly on marketing strategy, a key ingredient for franchise success. He brought back the original “godfather” character, tough-talking Omaha actor J. William Koll, for its TV commercials.

When a political candidate touts his “business” experience, which comes to mind: Management? Or marketing? Who was solving the problems, and who was signing off on the solutions?

And who’s been taking credit for the success?

(Fun detail: Godfather’s posted “a small loss” in 1986, the year Cain! became president, but logged $260 million in sales the next year. In 1994, the year before he left, sales were $256 million. Where’s the growth?)

Pillsbury eventually sold the chain to a Cain!-led management team, so Herman is due some credit — he promoted the ops guy, after all. But if Herman Cain! ever manages to be a serious candidate — one who actually wins elections and shit — we’ll probably hear more about the substance of his “business” experience.

Presuming we ever stop hearing about his romantic experience.

Cain: The Godfather’s years [Omaha World-Herald, October 11]


This explains quite a great deal. No one can accuse many marketing types of being deep thinkers or have any understanding of how things get done (except marketing) but it is way way way worse when they drink their own Kool Aid and believe they can do anything. It’s obvious that Cain! has.

Omaha. Isn’t that the capital of Munchkinland?

I thought of Herman Cain! as a bean counter with a hatchet. He boosted Godfather’s numbers by closing under performing stores and firing employees. He must have the same business experience as Mitt “Cash in the Pants” Romney.
He has served on various boards, including Whirlpool. Iowans may remember him from the days when Herman! was

a member of the Whirlpool board of directors when the company shut down a plant in Newton in 2007 that had employed 1,700 workers, devastating the local economy. Cain’s tenure on the board also coincided with the company cutting health insurance benefits for thousands of Maytag retirees in 2009.

@texrednface: I have a 30 year old Maytag washer and dryer [sp?]. On the few occasions that a repair guys comes out, he always says “never get rid of these, the new ones are pieces of shit.”

@Dodgerblue: Same here. Thirty-year-old GE washer/dryer and kitchen appliances. I hope to god they never die.

Paterno out at Penn State. Resignation effective end of the season.

Pundits raising issue of whether he should coach the home game v. Nebraska on Saturday.

@redmanlaw: The Penn State Board of Whatevers is also looking at the conduct of the head of the university. He/she might want to be polishing his/her resume about now.

Programming note: CNBC debate open thread at 7:45pm ET.

@nojo: Is there a topic or theme for tonight? As in “Hey Herman, how big were they?”

@Dodgerblue: Officially, it’s “The Economy”. We’ll see how long that lasts.

@nojo: The eCONomy? As in, can you have one when the sole goal of your fiscal policy is the total extermination on your nation’s (former) middle class?

@¡Andrew!: Fun detail: CNBC is where the mortgage rant launched the Tea Party.

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