As you can imagine, there is a serious amount of drama going on, and we’re hesitant to enable any more than we already have. We’ll keep the post linked above updated with relevant facts that consumers should know, but will keep it at a minimum.
The letter below was clearly written by someone who worked on the technical side of Gaspari, and seems relatively fair and balanced. That said, this person was dismissed by the company, so it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Our own thoughts are added afterward. Anything in italic is written by the ex-employee.
An anonymous letter to Rich Gaspari
** All references to Tom & Jerry are to protect employee names. The actual names have not been mentioned **
“Rich, I won’t dwell on things too much, but as a long-time employee I was very disappointed to be let go without even an acknowledgment by you. You’re in a position to lead and silently letting someone go after 5+ years of service is cancerous for moral. If you’re conscious of the people working alongside you, working for you, and working below you, there’s an opportunity to inspire those people and the work they do and ultimately they’ll respect you. Once you’ve earned someone’s respect they’ll work countless hours, jump through fire and do whatever is required to help you… and help the company succeed.
There are a lot of things I’ve wanted to tell you about the direction of your company but I was never comfortable speaking to you about. Fortunately for both of us, I no longer have any ties to Gaspari Nutrition and I can speak my mind to whomever asks.
I’ve seen all the problems your company has faced over the years and now the banks are heavily involved, making suggestions and could very well own your company. I understand completely the rational of any bank… being that they need to see a return on their investment. You created a business because you love what you do and the sport of bodybuilding. A bank might never appreciate or value that because numbers are numbers and the company is big time in the red which is all they see.
You have a habit of giving your company to anyone who convinces you they can provide a service for you regardless of their professional background. Here’s a fact that’ll be difficult to absorb but I’ll say it anyway, which is that you’re incapable of making most business decisions and your role should simply be as a figure head of a company. Fans never talk about innovation or marketing tact within the same sentence as Gaspari Nutrition but people always remember who Rich Gaspari was. Does it bother you that Gaspari received ZERO bodybuilding.com nominations for 2K14? I pity you because you do try to do what’s best for your company and the energy you have towards bodybuilding can’t be matched by anyone else. You could have been on an Arnold Schwarzenegger’s level!
Your company is unfortunately being held by the bank and it’s very obvious that certain people are calling a lot of the shots which have gotten you closer to the situation you’re currently in and soon approaching which is bankruptcy.
First let me be very clear that I do not want my job back and that your entire company including is looking for a new job too. I was fortunate enough to have been laid off due to downsizing however I’ve always been willing to help you because I know your heart is in a good place.
Anyway, certain people have held the reigns of HR, IT, accounting and other job titles for quite some time and I’m about to painfully make you realize how your decision makers should have been fired a long time ago. I’ll preface things by acknowledging your situation and a common business practice of making employees “wear many hats” because I’ve done it myself and hard workers and employees who respect you will show you results.
Your execs and decision makers have driven your company further into the hole because they have no clue about HR, IT, or even communication and neither do you (unfortunately). Downsizing and forcing employees to take on other roles is one scenario that often happens but an even worse scenario is when the employees are ego-maniacal and only care for their own paycheck and not the betterment of the company. There have been a handful of decisions all by these decision makers which have greatly hurt your company.
November 2013: Tom & Jerry performed a Microsoft GP update that crippled e-commerce. Up until about February 2014 e-comm still was not working properly. I advised Tom & Jerry they needed to create a test/development area before doing what they did. They refused to take that advice and since that GP update there were constant problems with web orders and countless emails to Tom & Jerry including their GP consultants about fixing the problem. THIS COST YOU ABOUT $10K/month!
The affiliate program was 100% tested and working until Tom & Jerry demanded it be turned off. Their concern was about calculating sales tax. Tom & Jerry were told that an affiliate program could still be launched and very successful if we launched it in select states however they still refused to let it proceed which again has cost you money and I’ll point out that within the last week Jerry has acknowledged that she’ll handle manually calculating sales tax. Manually handling sales tax was also an option at the beginning of the affiliate program but Tom & Jerry refused to allow the program to continue.
The bank has been making a lot of observations on the company’s expenses and what needs to be done to cut costs. Tom & Jerry rarely communicate with other departments and I’ve told the Director of Marketing numerous times.
Within 1 week of myself seeing bills etc. I created a plan that would save the company $6K-$10K per month. I was always limited by what questions and information passed by desk but 1) the bank has brought up IT expenses that need to be cut and Tom & Jerry have been in charge of IT for well over a year and they’ve never spotted any of this and 2) the fact that I quickly showed what costs needed to be cut within a week….. do you think they are capable of filling the job duties bestowed upon them? Tom & Jerry are full of shit and have no idea what they’re talking about.
Jerry is a brute and has an ego and Tom would bend over and take it for anyone paying his salary. I realize you might think by my words I have an axe to grind but I assure you I do not. I want you to be aware of certain people within your company who will tell you anything you want to hear and obviously do not understand the roles they’ve taken upon themselves. I’ve always given you my advice even knowing that you might not agree.
My role at Gaspari Nutrition wasn’t to be your friend it was to provide a service for you and give you professional advice related to my job title. I calculated that Tom & Jerry have cost your company at least $72K yet you allow Tom to work for the company from their home in Florida amidst the financial crisis at Gaspari Nutrition.
Obviously these are small sums of money considering the amount of debt, but they are microcosms to the bigger picture, and they could be found in any department. Things spiraled out of control, and nobody was held accountable.
This might not all seem like challenging statements but when you allow people with no job experience to cost the company money from their decisions to the amounts I calculated is absurd. Additionally how they’re still employed is ridiculous. My thoughts are shared with others past and present with your company and I wish you luck!”
OK, Mike with PricePlow talking again. It’s too hard for me not to have some opinions.
While the issues above seem small, they continually remind me of one thing:
Hiring (and more importantly — firing) is the HARDEST part of owning a business.
Those of you who own businesses are nodding in agreement, and the rest of you won’t understand until you’re in this position. It’s the truth.
It doesn’t matter if you’re running a company with products (like Gaspari), an Internet Startup (like PricePlow), or a restaurant. Finding quality talent and getting rid of the bad ones before they ruin your company is the single most important thing you can do.
And unfortunately, it seems that several of past Rich’s hires have definitely come to haunt him in more ways than one.
I have to sympathize with Rich on part of this. I made a bad hire two years ago, and being slow to terminate this person still plagues me to this day. It is the sole biggest regret in my life, and I still find it tough to shake the dust off. At least I got to learn this lesson early.
It seemed that for a long time, Gaspari did well at this. Tons of talent came out of Gaspari. But at some point, things grew beyond his control. That could be a good thing to a well-prepared business. I heard somewhere that once you hit $15 million in revenue, it’s time for a real CEO. You can no longer “hack it” at that point. Rich went magnitudes beyond that, so hats off to him.
Instead, things apparently grew out of control… lawsuits happened… downturns happened… life happened… and that’s sad to see. Because nearly everyone says “his heart is in the right place”, and he is definitely an incredible figurehead and an even better bodybuilder. Just perhaps not the best CEO of a massively successful company (something few [if any] of us could do).
So we wish everyone in this situation the best of luck — be it ex-employees, creditors, potential buyers, customers, and Rich himself. Let it be a lesson in success learned.
Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is a biohacker with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several "n=1" experiments done on himself.
Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.