Heads Are Rolling at Famous Dave’s as Its Turnaround Begins

Ed Rensi, the new CEO of Famous Dave’s, isn’t messing around.

Jun 11, 2014 at 3:40PM

Source:  Famous Dave's

Nobody likes to see mass layoffs at any organization. However, they can often be a signal of major change - which may or may not be a good thing. While the company didn't come out calling them layoffs (they called them resignations), some major shakeups have just occurred at Famous Dave's of America (NASDAQ:DAVE). For this company, it may just mark the beginning of a turnaround for the BBQ chain. Ed Rensi, now CEO of Famous Dave's, was brought in to turn around the company fast, and he doesn't seem to be wasting any time.

Ed in da house
Recall back on Feb. 10, Famous Dave's announced that Rensi came on board as the new interim CEO. Rensi was made famous over at McDonald's where he started working for minimum wage as a cook and worked his way up the ranks to general of the McDonald's empire, AKA the CEO. From there, he helped turned McDonald's into a powerhouse through the 1990s and helped define what it is today.

Then Rensi came to Famous Dave's, looking to duplicate to some degree his previous success by leading the organization, military style, into a BBQ chain powerhouse. At the time of the announcement and until recently, it was unclear if he was just on board temporarily or if he had a more permanent role.


Source: Famous Dave's

During the last conference call, it was asked of Rensi if Famous Dave's engaged a firm to help it search for a CEO. The analyst asking added, "Ed, can you talk about your desire to drop the interim from your current title?" Ed confidently and authoritatively responded, "I intend to be the permanent interim CEO."

Now it's officially official
On May 23, Famous Dave's made an announcement. First, "interim" was indeed dropped from Rensi's title, as he was finally appointed as the full-fledged CEO. Additionally, Richard A. Pawlowski was named as the new CFO. Pawlowski was specifically tapped for his experience in acquisitions and turnaround situations, particularly with restaurants. Diana Purcel, who was Famous Dave's CFO for the past 10 years, will be suddenly "leaving the company to pursue other opportunities."

Is that a code for being let go? Rensi didn't seem very fond of her. In my last article, I remarked, "Rensi listed items one by one, using numbers so carefully detailed you might have sworn he was actually the CFO." You might think that perhaps this one executive did really have other plans or didn't like Rensi, but two members of the board of directors also "left" at the same time, according to the announcement. It seems like it was the work of Rensi. One had been with Famous Dave's for five years and the other for 18 years.

Add to that now the Chairman of the board suddenly turned in his "resignation."  This was announced on June 9, less than three weeks he was welcoming the new board members at the time and looking "forward to their contributions and working with them in building and growing this brand."  It doesn't sound like he was planning an exit. 


Source: Famous Dave's

Conference call hints
Rensi did say on the conference call that the company was "making some tough decisions in regard to people." This implies that it was the decisions of the company regarding these people and not the other way around. Rensi added that Famous Dave's has "a lot of opportunity ahead" that's going to "require top talent." He added, "We've had a number of employees, some of which were long-term executives[, who] have exited the company recently, which is never easy for anybody involved." Again, it sounds like they went against their will.

Finally, Rensi made himself clear again on the call. He warned that there are high expectations across performance, financials, and operations: 

This is a nonnegotiable matter, and we're holding our company operators and our franchisees accountable to a strict level of performance. Again, not negotiable. We'll take action when necessary to get it.  

Take action is once again code for "let people go." 

Why all of this even matters
Usually when you see multiple resignations from longtime executives it raises an eyebrow that there is a much bigger problem within the organization. For Famous Dave's, it appears that the officers of Rensi's army are simply being realigned for the company's march forward. Fools may want to keep a close eye on this one. While there may not be much in the way of hard numbers to justify an investment in Famous Dave's quite yet, if Rensi is successful with his mission, there will be earnings that fundamentally justify the current stock price and more  in the quarters and years ahead.

Are you ready for this $14.4 trillion revolution?
Have you ever dreamed of traveling back in time and telling your younger self to invest in Apple? Or to load up on Amazon.com at its IPO, and then just keep holding? We haven't mastered time travel, but there is a way to get out ahead of the next big thing. The secret is to find a small-cap "pure-play" and then watch as the industry -- and your company -- enjoy those same explosive returns. Our team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's ready for stunning profits with the growth of a $14.4 TRILLION industry. You can't travel back in time, but you can set up your future. Click here for the whole story in our eye-opening report.


Nickey Friedman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers