Dobbs devoted a column in the March issue to touting the prospects of the Minnesota-based Toro Company, which makes outdoor landscaping-maintenance equipment. He told subscribers that Toro was a “long-term wealth-builder,” and praised Toro’s “formal code of ethics, something I think is sorely needed at more of America’s companies,” and its “…exemplary corporate governance structure, which aligns the interests of shareholders, employees, and customers.” He concluded his interview with Toro CEO Kendrick Melrose by frankly telling him, “I like the way you treat your shareholders, employees, and customers.”
One wonders whether Dobbs’ admiration extends to Toro’s 2002 decision to move 15% of its workforce — about 800 jobs — to Juarez, Mexico. Indeed, CEO Kendrick Melrose might be interested to know that Toro appears on Dobbs’ own list of companies that are “exporting America.”
And Toro is not alone. Of the 14 companies Dobbs has highlighted for investors since starting his newsletter last year, eight appear on his CNN website as companies that outsource jobs.
Greenpoint Financial is another company that’s received conflicting treatment from Dobbs. CEO Tom Johnson enjoyed the Dobbs interview treatment in June 2003. Dobbs promised readers, “I think you’ll find Tom’s comments and the way he runs his business thought-provoking and insightful.”
Apparently one of the “thought-provoking and insightful” methods that Dobbs was referring to was not the 2002 decision by Greenpoint to export much of its mortgage and customer-service operations to Bangalore, India, a move that produced significant savings, but that cost 150 U.S. workers their jobs. Greenpoint Mortgage, a subsidiary of Greenpoint Financial, appears on Dobbs’ list of outsourcers.
When Dobbs features a company in his newsletter, he tends to stand by them, no matter what information subsequently comes to light. In December 2003, Boeing CEO Phil Condit was forced to resign amidst an ethics scandal. Dobbs had interviewed Condit for the newsletter back in June, and wrote at the time: “Boeing ranks Number 35 on Fortune’s list of most admired companies. I think Phil has a lot to do with that.”
After Condit’s resignation, Dobbs ran a “Special Boeing Update” in the December edition of the newsletter, in which he told subscribers: “In the face of adversity, the company is being up-front and honest abut its problems…Boeing has just proven that its priorities are in the right place.”
But according to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Boeing has sent 5000 U.S. jobs overseas in recent years. And Dobbs’ assurances that Boeing’s priorities are in the right place don’t seem to square with his inclusion of the company on the “exporting America” list.
Similarly, in November 2003, Dobbs called Bank One chief Jamie Dimon “a conscientious CEO,” who “runs a tight ship with solid corporate values.”
Late last year, Bank One announced plans to merge with JP Morgan-Chase and Co., which has a reputation for shipping jobs overseas. In another special update, Dobbs reassured his readers that, “[Dimon’s] ability to orchestrate this merger and have it viewed as a positive move by investors…is a testament to the fact that Jamie did it for all the right reasons. As a numbers guy, Jamie knows what works and what doesn’t. And I’m confident he’s going to do some remarkable work in the coming months.”
Again, Dobbs neglected to tell readers that Bank One is on his “exporting America” list. According to a company spokesman, Bank One has outsourced two to three hundred jobs — mostly in software development — to India in the last few years.
The list goes on. In May 2003 Dobbs talked up Washington Mutual to investors. According to the CWA, the banking services giant has sent 30 jobs overseas. Washington Mutual appears on Dobbs’ CNN list of outsourcers.
In August 2003, Dobbs promoted Office Depot, telling investors that, “[T]he company and CEO Bruce Nelson believe strongly in making Office Depot a ‘compelling place to work, shop, and invest.’” Sure enough, Office Depot is on Dobb’s list of companies that are “outsourcing America.”