Many shareholders at RadioShack
A visit to Radio Shack's corporate website last night found the following entry under the page that once displayed the company's executive biographies:
We are currently updating and validating all of the biographical information for each of our senior executives.
A cached version of Edmondson's page -- now taken down by RadioShack -- lists the fallen chieftain as having attained degrees in theology and psychology. Last week, Edmondson admitted to lying about his academic record. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the paper that broke the story last week, also uncovered some DWI charges that Edmondson had faced in the past. These allegations may seem a little weighty, but does anyone really believe that Edmondson would have been on the way out if RadioShack was running on all cylinders?
RadioShack is in a funk at the moment. Last week, it announced that it would be closing as many as 10% of its 7,000 stores. The turnaround strategy comes after the company had a rocky holiday selling season, failing to keep pace with big-box consumer electronics leaders Circuit City
Edmondson became the company's CEO in January 2005, and the year was a financial disappointment. Wouldn't that would be the better reason to let him go? Picking him apart over a resume that was submitted a dozen years ago seems like a stretch.
Sure, it's an ethical blunder. RadioShack just wasn't as diligent in fact-checking its applicants back then. All it took was one phone call from a newspaper reporter last week to discover that Edmondson's alma mater never even offered psychology degrees. Yet Edmondson wasn't hired for his ability to complete college courses. He came to the company after spending a dozen years rising through the ranks at direct-marketer ADVO, then proceeded to climb the executive ladder at RadioShack.
There are plenty of famous business executives who came up short on education but thrived in the marketplace. The founders of Wendy's
Is there a lesson here about making sure that your resume is fib-free? Sure. But is there also a case study in the making about a company trying to take advantage of negative publicity, and shifting blame to a departing scapegoat, to get the market to believe in its turnaround plan? Perhaps. That's why RadioShack had better make sure that its next CEO is both a saint and a genius -- with the greater emphasis on "genius."
For further Foolishness, see Tom Taulli's roundup of RadioShack's latest quarter.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz remembers when RadioShack was the Love Shack with investors. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.