As a longtime writer for the Journal of Corporate Renewal, I was delighted to be asked to act as guest editor for this issue. Traditionally, TMA has had themes for each JCR issue. This year, it has moved away from them, in large part to make sure that the JCR can cover timely topics relevant across the restructuring world, rather than having each issue impact only specific subgroups.
At the same time, I found it ironic as topics came together for this issue that the articles came primarily from two worlds—consumer goods and (if you know me, you probably guessed it) healthcare. Why ironic? Because the distance between consumerism and healthcare in the United States has traditionally been as far as East is from West. This is now changing, and the healthcare services industry is recognizing more and more that it is a consumer business, where customer service is paramount. For the first time in my life, I got a birthday card this year from the clinic where my general practitioner works—and it wasn’t to remind me that I had an appointment the following week. A nice touch, but how many other industries have been doing this for the past half-century? Lots.
Healthcare is in the midst of a sea change, as some of the articles here attest. David Friend and Patrick Pilch spot signs of extinction for some on the healthcare horizon and use fossil records to predict the future. Thomas Buck, Dion Oglesby, and my law partner Jeremy Johnson propose a proactive approach to handling healthcare distress. And Robert Hauptman discusses the often-overlooked opportunity that valuation opinions present in distressed healthcare transactions.
Like the healthcare industry, sea change has also come to the consumer products industry. (Trips to my local malls have failed to turn up a Circuit City for several years, so I’m finding it hard to replace the cassette tape player in my car. I loved those guys! What happened?) Anyway, consumer tastes change quickly, supply chains are oh-so-different from 10 years ago, bricks and mortar may actually be losing the fight with the Internet for consumer traffic, and commerce has gone global. Consumer services such as restaurants are a close relative of the consumer products industry, and they too must learn to survive the ups and downs of the American consumer, not to mention the potential for years of bad press an event of food poisoning can bring.
Surviving in the turbulent world of consumer goods and services is a new game in the First World. Turnaround specialist Michael Musso writes about survival strategies for brick-and-mortar companies in an Internet age, lawyers Eve Karasik and Edward Wolkowitz write about the pitfalls of retail business, and turnaround manager Steve Agran writes the article you’ll want to read before your next trip out for casual dining—how to prevent catastrophes in food safety.
So, we present to you the April issue of the Journal of Corporate Renewal, and we hope that you enjoy the insights of our esteemed contributors. As we welcome you to turn the page, we send you with our best wishes: “May your doctor send you a birthday card this year, and may your spinach be free of E. coli.”