June 23, 2006



The Nardelli Model
by Jim Hightower

One of George W's most favorite corporate honchos is Bob Nardelli, CEO of the big box megachain, Home Depot. George touts Nardelli as a perfect model of America's corporate management.

Several of Home Depot's big shareholders, however, are a lot less infatuated with Bob, citing him as a perfect model of corporate arrogance, incompetence and excess. They note that Nardelli, who has no retail experience, came from General Electric to takeover a well-run and successful retailing company that treated store managers and employees with respect. However, hailing from the autocratic, anti-worker ethic of GE, the new guy immediately imposed a top-down, stringent regime on employees and replaced several top executives with his former GE cronies.

These shareholders also note that in his five years at Home Depot, the company's stock value has fallen 12 percent, at the same time that the stock of arch-rival Lowe's has risen 173 percent. Then they note with dismay that while stockholders have fared poorly... Nardelli himself has fared very richly.

Home Depot's compliant board of directors has literally given away the store to Bob, lavishing $245 million in pay for him in the past five years. This bonanza includes extravagant stock giveaways of nearly $180 million, multimillion-dollar bonuses for poor performance, use of the corporate jet for personal trips, a new Mercedes every three years, and a $10 million "loan" that he won't ever have to repay. A shareholder watchdog group that tracks excessive CEO pay has ranked Home Depot among its top 11 "Pay For Failure Companies."

Still, given the avaricious, predatory ethic that now dominates the executive suites of corporate America, Bush might be right — maybe Bob Nardelli is the poster boy of what today's corporate management is all about.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com


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