I have a theory, which is almost completely uninformed, but comes from just observation. I think Jimmy Haslam and Ron Ramsey have a similar strain of personality. Don’t get me wrong, the ways in which they are vastly different could fill a book. But I’m talking about one thing. I think they both imagine themselves as regular people and they resent, a little, Ivy League elitists. “Oh, you think you’re so smart because you went to Harvard? You think you’re smarter than me?”
I think this is why Ramsey is so genially opposed to much of what Bill Haslam does. He enjoys thwarting him for the above reason. And I think that’s why Bill Haslam is sitting in the Governor’s office now, and the Knoxville Mayor’s office before, because, at the end of the day, working for his brother, even though he clearly loves him dearly, had to be an ongoing trial of being accused of thinking he was better than everybody. Of getting above his raising.
The problem Pilot has right now coupled with Jimmy Haslam’s seeming genuine remorse and Pilot’s efforts to set things right only makes sense in one scenario: Jimmy Haslam truly didn’t know. I find this hard to believe and, in fact, I will not be surprised if we see Jimmy Haslam indicted, but I’m also starting to give it more weight as a plausible scenario.
So, how can this happen? Say what you want about Jimmy Haslam. He’s pretty fucking brilliant. So, how could he not know this was going on in his own company? It strains credulity.
Unless regular guys like him don’t rip off their customers. Sure, regular guys like him get rich, but everyone gets what they want and the customer is happy. And when the customer is not happy, you put them on your plane and you bring them in to a football game and you let them see that this is just a matter of regular folks being clumsy with each other, not anything intentionally bad. You’ll make it right.
And, if everyone under him is a “regular” guy or gal, why would you even worry about wrong-doing.? Huge scams and widespread theft aren’t how regular guys do business. It’s how those guys on Wall Street go. It’s how those elites do things. And Jimmy Haslam doesn’t have elites working for him, not even his brother.
In other words, I’m starting to wonder if he was hoisted on his own petard of credulity. But I’m also wondering how widespread the “regular folks don’t do this,” attitude in the trucking industry is. In other words, is the problem not just that Pilot ripped them off, but that Jimmy Haslam was so out of touch with regular folks?
But, if this is the case, then I think Bill Freeman is wrong.. If Pilot’s customers feel like they’ve been duped at two levels–the money they lost and whether Jimmy Haslam was a regular guy like them–bringing in the brother everyone already “knows” is an “elitist” isn’t going to inspire customer confidence in Pilot. It’s going to just confirm suspicions that the Haslams, and thus their company, have gotten too big for their britches.
Not that I know what Pilot should do, but bringing in the brother who acts like and everyone thinks he doesn’t like regular people is probably not the wise choice.