Part 3 – Orrin Woodward joins Quixtar board, attempts to ‘clean house’
2005 – 2007
Orrin Woodward was elected to sit on Quixtar’s Independent Business Owner’s (IBO) board of directors. The following year, Chris Brady was elected to serve on the same board. The purpose of the IBO board was to create and maintain synergy between the field marketers and the Quixtar ownership group. These years were filled with tremendous excitement and hope for a bright future. This excitement was based upon the idea that they could have their ideas heard and together forge an amazing future for Quixtar and Team. I imagine that this excitement rivaled the early 1770’s when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington owned a vineyard and an olive tree plantation in partnership with a British royal, The Earl of Dunmore. As exciting as this must have been to Jefferson and Washington, this partnership was not to last, as bigger problems disrupted their capitalistic synergy. In the later 1770’s, many of the selfish actions by the Earl of Dunmore were quickly turning himself into America’s first villian. Shortly after this, Thomas Jefferson (who was an avid reader of history) penned the “Summary View of the Rights of British America”, which highlighted the idea that if the British King does not act in the best interest of the colonialists, that his jurisdiction shall become null and void (whether he liked it or not).
Fast forward back to 2005, with the failing health of the two original founders (Rich Devos and Jay VanAndel), controlling interest was passed down to the next generation of Devos and VanAndel family members … eventually, a new executive staff was in place and the synergy that was enjoyed for decades was suddenly found wanton. It seemed as if the concept that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in 1774 (A Summary View of the Rights of British America) was starting to be abused once more by a corporate group that did not study or understand true leadership.
Stemming from his career as an Engineer and extensive training in the field of continuous improvement, Orrin Woodward could not sit idle and let problems fester. Both Orrin and Chris agreed that somebody had to stand in the gap and try to help fix the problems that were starting to hurt business growth in the field. It is said that ‘courage’ is not the absence of fear, but action in spite of fear. Wanting to drive continuous improvement for all, Orrin acted courageously and decided to risk the status quo and call out the ‘elephant in the room’. He gracefully drafted an ‘Olive Branch’ letter to one of the new billionaire owners, Doug Devos, pointing out some ways to improve Quixtar for everybody, ownership included. (You can read the full letter at Dan Hawkins blog). The two main points that were highlighted were retail price of Quixtar products in the marketplace and the means by which the company subtly began to take extra profits for themselves. It is curious how human nature and history tend to repeat from time to time in the form of greed and ego. There was a hidden form of taxation without representation happening at the corporate level, and nobody had the guts to go straight to the top to call out the elephant in the room – Nobody, that is, until Orrin Woodward arrived with the support of his loyal friend, Chris Brady. Prior to this, both Orrin and Chris often spoke in terms of principles, just like the founders of our nation, encouraging leaders to “do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of the cost”. Another historical fact to clear up is this: Just like pre-1770 colonial Americans had no intention of seceding from the British, neither Orrin Woodward nor Chris Brady had and intention of seceding from Quixtar. Ultimately, their hand was forced by an injustice…
After a few half-hearted “peace treaties”, corporate ego dictated the next moves by the second-generation ownership of the Devos and VanAndel families. Without warning or asking approval from the IBO board, Quixtar ownership drops 2 bombs. Bomb #1: They are going to reduce commissions on two products without reducing the cost of these products (the two products that The Team sold the most of). It is almost like taking a page out of history, like Imperial Britian imposing a tax mechanism like the Stamp Act or Townshend Act, then daring the people to defy the crown with ships of war sitting in the Boston harbor… Bomb #2: They are eliminating the parent company, Alticor, and merging the Quixtar Company back into the previously separate corporate entity, Amway. Period. No discussion. No deliberation with the field. It seemed like the attitude from the top was ‘we can do it just because. And if you don’t like it, too bad’.
To this day, nobody in the field really knows why these moves were made. Was it a conscious attempt to destroy their North American business? Sure, there were a few well-spun press releases, but none of it makes any sense considering the tremendous growth of the Team organization all of these years. Was the (second-generation) ownership really that oblivious to the negative marketing effects of the Amway name in North America? Either way, it was ‘their way or the highway’.
Stay tuned for Part 4, this is getting tense!
Part 1 – An important review of American History facts
OK, its time to clear up the story of MonaVie, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady once and for all! Once again, the antagonists continue to twist the facts and get the story wrong. The funny thing about actual events is that they typically do not require any embellishment or exaggeration – they are full of drama and suspense all by themselves!
The dramatic history deserves to be properly told concerning the events leading up to Orrin Woodward’s business partnership with Dallin Larsen and MonaVie, then onward to the launch of Life Leadership. This series of articles will illuminate, in more detail, the incredible chain of events in an effort to capture the honorable deeds of a few brave men and women in American business history.
In order to fully appreciate these ‘major motion picture worthy’ details of this moment in history, we need to take a peek backwards 247 years into American history – to a time where honor and duty were a matter of course for statesmen around the world.
“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.” –George Washington
In case you were sleeping in your high school American History class, let us recall some of the major highlights leading up to the American Revolutionary War and the beginning of the United States of America:
- Jan. 17, 1706 – Benjamin Franklin born in Boston, MA
- Feb. 22, 1732 – George Washington born in Virginia
- Apr. 13, 1743 – Thomas Jefferson born in Virginia
- 1754 – 1763 – The French and Indian War occured.
- Mar. 1765 – English Parliament imposes the first direct tax on American colonies, called the Stamp Tax. This was to help pay for British military organization in America. It was the first time colonialists united together in opposition.
- Sept. 1768 – English warships sail into Boston Harbor to “keep the peace”. Part of the unrest was caused by the Townshend Revenue Act (a new tax to help pay for increased British military presence in the American colonies).
- 1770 – The American colonies are growing like crazy – population reaches 2,210,000
- March 5, 1770 – Boston Massacre occurs when British troops shoot into a mob at point blank range.
- April 1770 – The Townshend Acts are repealed by the British Crown.
- May 10, 1773 – The Tea Act takes effect, giving the British East India Trade Company a monopoly position on all tea imports.
- December 16, 1773 – Boston Tea Party! 8,000 Bostonians gather to hear Sam Adams tell them that British warships will not leave the harbor until all tea taxes are paid. Later that night, colonial activists disguised as Mohawk Indians board the ships and dump 342 containers of tea into the harbor. (What a bunch of Rascals!)
- March 23, 1775 – In response to escalating tensions between American colonies and the British Crown, Patrick Henry delivers his famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech. 7 days later, the New England Restraining Act is endorsed by King George III requiring that the colonies trade exclusively with England; and also bans fishing in the North Atlantic.
- July 5, 1775 – After the past year of escalated tension, including the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Continental Congress adopts the Olive Brach Petition – which expressed hopes of reconciliation with the British and King George III. King George refuses to even look at it and declares the Americas to be in a state of open rebellion.
- March 4-17, 1776 – Americans capture Dorchester Heights (above Boston Harbor) and point cannons (captured from Fort Ticonderoga) at the British Fleet stationed there, forcing the British to evacuate. A small victory breeds confidence!
- May 2, 1776 – The Americans, fragile and in need of help, receive foreign support from France and Spain! King Louis XVI of France commits 1 million dollars in arms and munitions to help the cause of freedom. Spain then also promises support. For financial perspective, $1 million in 1776 can be conservatively translated to $28 million in today’s currency.
- Feb 6, 1778 – After almost 2 years into the Revolutionary War, France and America sign two treaties: Treaty of Amity and Commerce and a Treaty of Alliance. They pledge to fight Britain until American Independence is won. A year later, Spain enters the war as an ally of France. The following year, the British are engaged in fighting all over the world.
- Sept 3, 1783 – Treaty of Paris is signed by the United States and Great Britain, ending the war and sealing American independence for good. This is the true beginning point for the Great Republic that, despite its faults, has been a place where its citizens can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I realize that a pure historian would be pulling their hair out right about now yelling, “you skipped some of my favorite parts!” My apologies. This condensed review should be sufficient to stir the imagination enough to appreciate the following tale of events. Stay tuned for Part 2.