My recently concluded 3-part series highlighted innovative ideas and companies that are creating countless new jobs. Unfortunately, there are numerous other companies like Sears Holdings Corporation that are doing exactly the opposite!
A Chicago and national icon, Sears was founded by Richard Warren Sears and Alvah Curtis Roebuck in 1893 as a mail order catalog. Julius Rosenwald took control in 1895 and greatly expanded its sales and profits. In 1925 it began opening local department stores. It’s business model and jobs creation peaked in the 1950s and 1960s catapulting it to America's largest retailer! As an engineering and technology monument to its Chicago, national and worldwide prestige, Sears opened its new headquarters in the Sears Tower in 1973. The 108-story, 1,451-foot skyscraper was until 1998 the tallest building in the world.
Sears designation as America’s largest retailer ended in October 1989 when they were surpassed in domestic revenue by Wal-Mart. Since then Target, Best Buy, and Home Depot have all also eclipsed Sears. In 2005 it was bought out by Kmart, which renamed itself Sears Holdings in a huge debt transaction engineered by Eddie Lampert and his hedge fund ESL Partners.
Since then Sears has been in rapid decline loosing customers and shedding jobs, real estate and brands. For example, recently, Sears made plans to spin off their iconic Lands’ End brand. The 50-year old maker of preppy chinos and fleece jackets was one of the bright spots for Sears. Unfortunately, their company is in such bad shape that Mr. Lampert is also facing a mass exodus of money from his own hedge fund used to take over and fund Sears Holdings!
Instead, Mr. Lampert should engineer bold, new strategies to increase revenues. For example, I pitched him and his executives about launching an ITV (Internet television) brand called Eve Talk to both create buzz for his failing company and provide a magnet to attract the highly targeted Millennial’s with a new line of Eve Talk branded products. Breakthroughs in technology, science and engineering have allowed these potential customers to increasingly watch shows on non-traditional devices like smartphones and wristwatch devices. Such engineering, scientific and technology advancements can be harnessed by Sears to stem the tide of red ink. Unfortunately, Mr. Lampert’s backward thinking has prompted Sears to stand pat causing them to die a quick death shedding jobs, divisions and brands.
This is unfortunate because as a scientific, engineering and technical recruiter (also known as a technical recruiting agency) I see the best companies being very progressive. By adopting cutting-edge technology, engineering and scientific breakthroughs they create a lot more revenues for their company and many more jobs for our country!