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Turnaround Artist

Binyamin Rose

Running a business is always a daunting task, but turning a business that’s been run into the ground into a thriving operation is a far more formidable challenge. That’s precisely what Scott Miller does for a living; whether it’s taking stumbling companies and putting them back on sound footing, or providing vigorous financial oversight to businesses that are better at selling their wares than smelling trouble.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In most cases, whenScottMiller is called in to salvage a business, it is a court-appointed trustee or bank that has retained him to represent their interests. While those who retain him may be erudite and sophisticated businessmen,Miller often finds himself dealing with some rather unsavory characters in somewhat disagreeable locations.Miller says no one has ever threatened him, but he admits to getting scared once. “My client was appointed trustee over a distribution company, which had a big warehouse. It stank because they made kimchi [Korean-style fermented cabbage], which smells awful. It was dirty, and there was food and big rats all over the place,” saysMiller. His first task was to take inventory and photographs to verify the remaining assets of the failed business just in case the owner tried to empty the warehouse and change the locks before Miller’s team could take control. During his inspection,Miller stepped into the warehouse’s huge, walk-in freezer to take pictures. “All of a sudden, it dawns on me that all these workers here probably don’t like me, because even though I’m here to make things better, they don’t know that yet,” Miller says. “They assume they’re all about to get fired. They could have locked me into the freezer where the temperature was probably minus 20 and no one even knows I’m in there.”Miller beat a hasty retreat to a safer and warmer part of the plant. While it’s a story he now laughs at in retrospect, he has grown quite comfortable with his dual role of having to be the bearer of bad tidings, while breathing new life into businesses that have been mismanaged or fallen on hard times. “I’ve gone into companies and told people that they’re not getting their paychecks, and I have grown men crying, saying, ‘I can’t go home to my wife,’  ” saysMiller. “But I’m always there to help improve a company’s financial situation no matter what the situation is.”  

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