Undercover Boss Analysis of Sheldon Yellen: CEO of BELFOR

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“Undercover Boss” is a new television series that takes real top-level executives of large corporations, and plants them in entry-level positions in their own companies, disguised as just another John Doe, to see what really goes on in both the front-lines, and the minds of their employees. The Collared Sheep will be providing analysis of each executive in each episode, because, well, we all work for CEO’s like these.

Sheldon-Yellen-CEO-of-BELFORName: Sheldon Yellen
Title: CEO of BELFOR
Headquarters: Birmingham, MI
Product or Service: disaster recovery and property restoration

Brief Overview:

In this week’s episode of “Undercover Boss”, Sheldon Yellon, CEO of BELFOR, attempts various carpentry and restoration work such as tearing down drywall, and cleaning up after disasters, while undercover as “Tom Kelly”.


Analysis

undercover-boss-BELFOR-restoration-technician

The new guy on dead-rat-duty.

Position 1: Restoration Technician

Overview: Joe shows “Tom” how to pack up a room in preparation of repairing water damaged walls.

Result: Joe is an efficient and knowledgeable worker. Sheldon, being the new guy, is assigned dead animal duty, and must discard the dead rodent carcass that had been in the wall for years. Sheldon complains of difficulty seeing through his glasses, as they continually fogged up while working.

Joe informs Sheldon that he used to run own business, but after running into some major financial difficulties, now works not only for BELFOR, but hustles various jobs on the side.

How he made amends: Joe is promoted to project manager, and is given a $10,000 advance on his commissions. He is given an additional $10,000 to help with his financial difficulties.

What he should have done: Sheldon also makes it clear to his executive board that employees should be offered more opportunities for overtime pay and commissioned earnings, however it is unclear whether anything actually comes of this. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this time.

On a smaller note, he did complain about his foggy glasses several times. Perhaps an investment in a high quality safety goggle is in order? Foggy glasses may cloud vision, but you can still see a lawsuit coming a mile away.


undercover-boss-BELFOR-carpenter

Raise the roof!

Position 2: Carpenter

Overview: “Tom” attempts to hang drywall working alongside Drew.

Result: Sheldon is not comfortable using power tools, and its clear that Drew and Sheldon do not mesh well. Sheldon asks Drew to perform several tasks that Sheldon could not complete.

Drew reveals that he went to school for his MBA and hopes to one day work in a corporate marketing position. His education has left him in serious debt.

How he made amends: Drew is given an opportunity to work with the marketing department, to see if he has what it takes to work in marketing for corporate. He is also given $15,000 to put a dent in his student loans.

What he should have done: Oddly, the main issue present in this segment had more to do with Sheldon’s reaction to his own failure than the actual position. A CEO should remain cool and confident in the most trying of circumstances. Sheldon complained and gave up. These are not ideal personality traits for the leader of corporation.


undercover-boss-BELFOR-restoration-technician-2

Made me think of that Swiffer commercial.

Position 3: Restoration Technician

Overview: Brenda teaches “Tom” how to clean up after light fire damage.

Result: Sheldon is surprisingly successful at cleaning the soot leftover from the fire. However, he’s surprisingly unsuccessful at making small talk with client, and makes the mistake of suggesting that he was unable to tell the difference in age between a elderly mother and daughter. Party foul.

Brenda informs Sheldon that she was robbed of her education, and her lack of reading and writing skills hurt her ability to test for water tech certification.

How he made amends: Brenda is awarded $10,000 to put towards the education of her grandchildren. Sheldon promises to put her in contact with the head of the training and development department, and will ensure that she is able to train and test for her water tech certification. In addition, Sheldon gives Brenda another $15,000, to use as she sees fit.

What he should have done: While Sheldon was more than generous to Brenda, he should have considered a scholarship or education program that would benefit the entire workforce. Right idea, wrong target.


undercover-boss-BELFOR-water-technician

Ta da!

Position 4: Water Technician

Overview: “Tom” tests his water technician skills, mentored by Jen. They investigate a house with moderate water damage.

Result: The job requires the pair to look beneath the home using cramped, dark, and dirty crawlspace. Sheldon can’t believe Jen is willing to do this on a day to day basis.

Sheldon learns that even though Jen’s recent promotion to water tech was supposed to come with a raise, the salary freeze he put in place has prevented her from receiving it. She is very blunt with him, and believes that few, if any, corporate big wigs would notice her “even if they ran her over.” – This statement causes Sheldon to breakdown emotionally, and reveals his true identity right there on the spot.

How he made amends: Sheldon vows to hold 6 town hall meetings a year, in an effort to get to know and understand his work force. Jen is promised to be back paid for the previous year, for the raise she was supposed to have earned. She is awarded an additional $15,000 for her dedication and loyalty.

What he should have done: Once again, Sheldon is more than generous to Jen, but neglects the rest of the workforce. The salary freeze did not only affect her, but rather the entire workforce.

Sheldon does ask his executive team to investigate a way to lift the salary freeze, but they do not return a definitive answer.

Hey Sheldon, I’ve got an idea – Instead of imposing a salary freeze on the people barely making enough to keep the lights on, perhaps try simply forgoing some of your personal luxuries like, oh, I don’t know…your personal jet? If you ask your employees to make a personal sacrifice, you should do the same as well.


Grade:

grade-B

Now THAT is a disaster recovery.

Sheldon was able to hammer out several of the issues presented, but missed the mark with just as many. He seemed more than a bit out of touch with the front line positions at BELFOR, and I could probably count the times he used power tools on one hand.

That being said, it’s very apparent that Sheldon means well, and he seems to have taken away more from his Undercover Boss experience than the majority of the other CEOs. Sheldon was also one of the most generous, awarding roughly of $20,000 to his “mentors”.


Don’t like our grade? Drop us a rebuttal, and leave a comment below.

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Comments

7 Responses to “Undercover Boss Analysis of Sheldon Yellen: CEO of BELFOR”
  1. Paul says:

    In defense of Sheldon using a private jet, Belfor does have over 100 offices scattered all over North America as well as additional offices in 29 other countries. That is a lot of travel and while flying in a private jet is nice, more importantly, it is extremely efficient at getting you to multiple locations quickly, which cannot be said about commercial flight.

  2. McFly says:

    Paul, that’s a fair statement.

    But how do you explain the hundreds of pairs of designer shoes in his closet? Or the country club? What I was really getting at was that fact that Sheldon’s disposable income might be a tad on the excessive side, which looks pretty bad, given that fact that he instated a company wide salary freeze due to the rough economic times.

  3. Paul says:

    There is no disputing he lives a very comfortable life. By his comments toward the end of the show, I think Sheldon is in agreement with your assessment that a little frugality in his life might be in order during these tough economic times. He may be one of the few CEO’s whose new perspective gained during the show ultimately leads to changes that positively impact all of his employees .

  4. Toe_Cheese says:

    I saw the show two days ago and I am still bothered by this man. Personally I care very little about his wealth. I do, however, care that he owns a business and has control over 6000 employees. He has some serious personality issues. Yellen was a fraud. I encourage everyone to watch the show again and pay attention to the degrading comments that he makes about the work being done and the insensitive things he says. It was embarrassing. Telling the young man it was “stupid” in the way they were hanging sheetrock and cabinets. He went on to blame the young man for his own ineptness. He made the statement to the young man that he (the young man) pissed him off. That was after the young man was trying to be encouraging and supportive to Yellen’s efforts. I could never have any respect for a CEO who is totally disengaged from the work being done in the field. Really, he couldn’t even operate a drill / screwgun. The money he offered was the equivalent to bribes. He knew he looked like an a$$. Did anyone pickup on when he threw the customer items into a box and when advised to be careful because things can get damage, his response was to ask if the customer was home (to witness it). Why on earth would that matter? People of character aren’t concerned about “witnesses”. That is a glaring personality flaw. I challenge those of you who think he is a good person to watch the show again and really listen to the words he chooses to use in these different situations. For the sake of your employees…please sell this company to someone who knows how to run an organization.

    T_Cheese

  5. Butterrose says:

    This show were very emotional & I felt Shelton was very sincere about his employees. It’s appreciated when the CEO recognize his employees worth.

  6. Funny says:

    Toe_Cheese was funny. “please sell this company to someone who knows how to run an organization”? HAHAHAHAA, you obviously don’t know what you’re talking about, do ya?

  7. GorGorBig says:

    I worked for these shysters. Make no mistake, this company is the epitome of organized crime. Google ‘Belfor USA fraud’ and read.

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