Jim McIngvale, or “Mattress Mack” as he’s often called, is famous for doing more than providing same-day furniture delivery service in the Houston area—he’s also known for his extraordinary commitment to community service and philanthropy. He feeds the hungry, helps victims of natural disaster, and gives away furniture to those in need. The Gallery Furniture owner is also a key supporter of the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays.

On March 29, his investment in retailing education at Texas A&M was permanently recognized with the dedication of the Gallery Furniture Retail Education Lobby in the Center for Retailing Studies (CRS).

Gallery Furniture owner and founder Jim McIngvale has been a supporter of the Center for Retailing Studies for over 15 years.
Gallery Furniture owner and founder Jim McIngvale has been a supporter of the Center for Retailing Studies for over 15 years. (view more photos)

“He is truly one of the most talented, innovative and successful merchandisers on the planet, bar none,” Center Director Cheryl Holland Bridges said when introducing him before the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new lobby. “Mack truly loves Aggies, and we love him.”

Mays Dean Jerry Strawser said any recognition the college can give McIngvale will fall short of what he deserves. “This guy simply makes the city of Houston and the state of Texas a better place,” he said.

Gallery Furniture has been involved with CRS for more than 15 years, but McIngvale’s involvement goes beyond financial gifts. He guest lectures in classes, has presented twice at the center’s Retailing Summit and develops mentoring relationships with students interested in retail.

Continuing to inspire Mays students to discover the world of retailing, McIngvale committed to an endowment of $250,000 at Mays, which was used to create and support the Gallery Furniture Retail Education Lobby. The facility features a comfortable area for students to study, hold group meetings and lounge. A wall-mounted TV streams current retailing and business news.

McIngvale said he supports Texas A&M because it reinforces the timeless values of good manners and hard work. “Texas A&M gives such an opportunity to people that they’ll be able to change the world,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be a huge supporter of Texas A&M.

McIngvale said his father taught him to generous. “We have a responsibility to make a difference — we all do,” he said. “Texas A&M does that.”

Bridges says McIngvale’s gift is central to their mission of being a bridge between the academic and professional world, as it will put students in contact with the latest information from the marketplace in a dynamic learning atmosphere. Information displayed on the TV includes presentations from retailing conferences, information about retail companies and career paths, profiles of student achievements in retailing, and video interviews with retailing CEOs. The multimedia materials encourage students to consider careers in retail, says Bridges.

Leonard Berry, Distinguished Professor of Marketing and founding director of the CRS, said he admires no one as much as he does McIngvale, both for his innovative approach and for his openness to customer feedback. Berry said he is amazed at McIngvale’s energy and enthusiasm, and his fearless approach to marketing. Most of all, Berry said, McIngvale conducts business in such a way that Gallery Furniture epitomizes social profit.

“We learn all about financial profit — how to get it, how to keep it, how to earn more, but I believe the social profit Gallery Furniture creates for Houston is one of the key contributors to the company’s financial success,” Berry said. Then, Berry turned to McIngvale and added, “I’m proud of you for your business success, but even more so for your generosity as a business leader.”

Categories: Centers, Donors Corner

Barry Minkow’s career has largely paralleled mine, and he has always been to me one of the most interesting personalities to intersect with my profession. His audacious ZZZZ Best fraud still stands as one of the preeminent examples of creating something out of nothing. Perhaps 80 percent of the sales for his public company were completely made up, and he managed to fool auditors and investors long enough that at one time the company had a market capitalization of over $240 million. When they liquidated the company, the total assets brought less than $60,000.

What fascinated me was the fact that Minkow did not slip quietly into oblivion, as so many fraudsters do. While he was serving seven years in federal prison, he was interviewed by Joe Wells, who founded the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. That interview has been watched by tens of thousands of accounting students, including many of mine. Minkow was completely transparent about the ways he deliberately manipulated audit partners and their spouses to believe a lie and to embrace his media personification as a “boy wonder” entrepreneur. The video is instructive, and it has helped to better calibrate the professional skepticism of many people.

In the 1990’s, after his release from prison, Minkow rebuilt his life on the foundation of a conversion to Christianity and the pursuit of fraud performed by others. I followed this next chapter with interest as well, particularly as it seemed to validate the story of redemption which seems so central to men continuing to have hope after their inevitable failures. While spending 14 years as a pastor, Minkow also founded the Fraud Discovery Institute, and he worked undercover in multiple situations to root out fraud being committed by other companies. The judge who sentenced him was so impressed by the work that Minkow did that he removed all the conditions from his federal parole. Minkow worked closely with law enforcement and gained a reputation for his insights into fraudulent dealings. He even taught fraud courses for the FBI.

The one consistency across the years as a business owner, felon, and fraud detective has been Minkow’s tendency toward self-promotion. Never afraid of a camera, a willing story teller who seems to revel in revelations, he was never far from a press release or YouTube clip. In fact, a major motion picture biography of his life has been made recently, starring James Caan and Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker of Star Wars fame). The movie’s release and, in fact, its ultimate ending, are uncertain now.

Last week The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post reported that Minkow has agreed to plead guilty to a securities charge that could land him in prison for five years. He has been accused of falsely citing homebuilder Lennar Corp. with producing fraudulent financial statements, depressing the price of the stock, at the same time he was betting against the stock in the market on supposedly nonpublic information.

Many will write this off as the story of a man who never changed, but there seems much more to it than that. For my young auditors, I would warn them to always be professionally skeptical, and especially of those who tend to promote themselves or focus on themselves. You should not be surprised that these things happen, but you do not need to be cynical about people as a result. Many lives turn, stay turned, and finish well.

What I take to heart for my own life is that we are all vulnerable. Every indication is that Barry Minkow’s spiritual conversion was genuine, and that he has been a mentor to many men, as well as being a good husband and father. The price he will pay in his personal life, what he will have to give up, is much higher now than it was the first time. I need people to watch my back, and to point out to me when I am making myself vulnerable to a fall. I need to be accountable.

Finally, I need to be careful if I find myself drawn to the limelight. If what I want is approval and applause, the price can be very high. That siren call will draw my students as well, and I need to find ways to let them know in advance.

I am sorry to say that, until I become a better lighthouse, the wreckage of Barry Minkow’s ship on the rocks will have to be warning enough.

Categories: Bottom Line Ethics

With the current flux in the world of medicine, the ground which health care professionals stand on grows increasingly unsteady. But Bruce Broussard ’84, CEO of US Oncology, has a steady foothold in this changing industry.

“Despite all of the many inefficiencies in health care today, there is an unbelievable amount of opportunity for growth,” says Broussard.

“A&M’s principles of doing the right thing for the right reasons has really helped out in my decision making process,” US Oncology CEO Bruce Broussard ’84 told students. “If you do the right thing, the rest will follow.” (view more photos)

Founded in 1992, US Oncology currently affiliates itself with more than 1,400 physicians who care for 850,000 cancer patients in nearly 550 locations nationwide. Broussard has been with the company for the past 10 years.

“Health care is an industry of growth and an industry of challenges,” he says. He predicts that the most promising areas of change will stem from the delivery of care and the flow of medical information.

With numerous innovations in medical technology, Broussard believes monitoring patient care will grow increasingly more remote, reducing the need for expensive hospitalizations and frequent trips between health care providers. He also sees great potential in electronic medical records, stressing that introducing this universal technology will help eliminate some of the waste that is prevalent in the medical field today. Electronic medical records will help reduce wait times in labs, coordinate physician schedules and increase the overall productivity of providers through the seamless flow of information between patients and practitioners.

“We’re seeking a meaningful improvement here,” Broussard says of his company’s chief involvements.

On a recent visit to campus, Broussard spoke with Mays Business Honors and full-time MBA students about dealing with business strategies in the health care world.

“When you bring competition to the market, it brings efficiency,” he states. Although he has no prior education in the medical field, Broussard asserts that his inquisitive nature and his tendency to continually ask questions have helped him develop an appreciation for the work he and his affiliating physicians accomplish.

“The psychology of dealing with 1,400 physicians is interesting in itself,” Broussard says. US Oncology offers multiple opportunities for professional advancement and leadership training for its affiliating physicians.

Broussard advises business students to seek mentorship and keep good principles in mind. “A&M helped me gain the perfect balance of confidence and ego,” he says, adding that if students can take criticism in context and advance themselves, they will go far.

“A&M got me a great undergrad degree and a great job,” he jokes. “A&M’s principles of doing the right thing for the right reasons has really helped out in my decision making process. If you do the right thing, the rest will follow.”

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

“Women make IT Sparkle” was the theme of this year’s Women in Information Technology conference hosted by faculty and staff in the Center for Management of Information Systems (CMIS) at Mays Business School.  Featured speakers included Amanda Adkisson, clinical professor of finance, on Financial Planning after College; Merna Jacobsen, director of the Women’s Resource Center and coordinator, organizational and staff development director for the Texas A&M Division of Student Affairs on Essential Skills for your Conflict Resolution Toolkit; and John Humphrey, co-founder and chairman of Pariveda Solutions on Networking for Life as the luncheon keynote. Jerry Strawser, dean of Mays Business School, welcomed attendees to the conference.

The Center for Management of Information Systems hosted its annual Women in Information Technology conference on March 4, 2011.
The Center for Management of Information Systems hosted its annual Women in Information Technology conference on March 4, 2011.

David and Julia Gardner, co-owners of David Gardner’s Jewelry, provided insight on current jewelry designs and a featured door prize.  In addition, door prizes were donated from HP and ExxonMobil. Five $100 scholarships were provided by CMIS. Industry attendees and conference sponsors included members from AMD, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Dell, ExxonMobil and HP.  Additional attendees included members from Anadarko, PWC, Deloitte, Pariveda Solutions, SAS, Shell, Sungard, TAMU (faculty and staff), and USAA.

Attendees assisted with round table discussions with students regarding Preparing for Your Career and Beginning Your Career.  Industry sponsors also hosted a panel discussion on Work-Life Balance Experiences.

The Women in Technology conference is hosted yearly by CMIS and includes students from Texas A&M University, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M-San Antonio, and Texas A&M-International.

Categories: Centers

Bugs will always be here.

For Bobby Jenkins ’81, bugs are merely the beginning. As the CEO of ABC Home and Commercial Services in greater Austin, San Antonio and Bryan/College Station, Jenkins has seen the company evolve from the pest control business that his father, Robert W. Jenkins ’59, began back in 1965.

Although ABC’s arguably greatest claim to fame is its treatment of unwanted household guests, the company has since diversified into all realms of home and commercial labors, including air conditioning and heating, electrical and handyman services, lawn care, rodent and wildlife treatment, and even plumbing.

Bobby Jenkins ’81 stressed the importance of investing in a company’s infrastructure to graduate management students: “We hire good people, we keep good people, we build with good people.” (view more photos)

“We are the quintessential small business,” boasts Jenkins, whose company is a perfect reconciliation between “Ma and Pa” businesses and impersonal corporate America. ABC Home and Commercial Services is a family-run, professional enterprise whose roots grow deep in Aggie soil.

Jenkins’ father had no experience in pest control when he began the company with only one technician and one van. He did have, however, a deep passion for business, and saw pest control as a field with unlimited potential for long-term growth.

“There’s always going to be bugs, and there’s always going to be people who don’t want to live with bugs,” Jenkins muses. “He was very smart, and very lucky.”

The company has since come far. After changing its name three times in 15 years and expanding into seven different cities, including Tampa and Orlando, ABC Home and Commercial Services is still flourishing.

Jenkins credits much of his success to his customers. By listening to the needs and wants of his clients, Jenkins has pioneered the company into many new areas of commercial and residential service.

He avoids the old adage of “jack of all trades, master of none” by offering advancement programs and master-technician instruction for his employees. “The company is only as good as the weakest person answering the phone,” he says, adding that the commission-driven pay structure and profit-sharing plan for every employee helps keep them focused on company success.

The business is expanding still — Jenkins predicts that the greatest growth in the next five years will be heating and air conditioning specialization, and, oddly enough, bed bugs.

“Every move’s been a learning experience,” he acknowledged when speaking with a class of Mays business students on a recent visit to campus. “We seek a long-term relationship with customers through repeat ongoing service work.”

Jenkins has built each new service from emerging customer needs. This makes his company a people business. “When we’re selling a service, we’re selling intangibles,” he explains

Jenkins is committed to employing the best. “One of the keys for me is hiring people that you trust,” he says. For instance, the vice president of the company is one of Jenkins’ childhood friends and college roommate, and the average length of time on the management team is 20 years. “We hire good people, we keep good people, we build with good people.” He values his company’s exceptionally low turnover rate as an indication of the success of the business’s overall infrastructure.

Although Jenkins claims to be “old school,” forward thinking, like good business, clearly runs in the family. With the manifold new labors offered for its customers, ABC Home and Residential Services is in store for exciting new growth. And although they may change the name, Jenkins says clients can rest assured that they will always keep their trademark jingle.

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

The Department of Accounting at Mays Business School has recently been ranked favorably for undergraduate/graduate program quality and quality/productivity of faculty research.

Authors of a Brigham Young University paper analyzing research quality and productivity ranked the department 6th in the country when all topics and all methods were considered. Spanning the last 12 years, the program is ranked 4th and for the last 20 years, 6th using the same metric. This is an improvement over the department’s already notable 2009 ranks of 12th, 8th and 8th in the country for its “all topics — all methods” overall ranking using the last six years, 12 years and 20 years of publications.

Department of Accounting Head James Benjamin said he was pleased to have the program highly ranked for both the quality of programs and faculty research. “I believe our BBA and MS program rankings are driven by having high-quality students, an excellent and dedicated teaching faculty, and innovative and contemporary programs,” he said. “We are among the leading source schools for new CPAs in the U.S., and it is gratifying to be included among the schools ranked in the top ten in the PAR survey.”

The accounting department is fortunate to have a significant number of productive scholars who regularly publish their work in leading accounting journals and serve in editorial and leadership roles in the academic accounting profession, Benjamin added. “In addition to enhancing the reputation of our program, our faculty are able to often able to bring the knowledge gained through their research into their undergraduate and masters classes,” he explained.

The 2010 rankings also improved in the categories for archival research (studies based upon objective data collected from repositories or other sources)

  • For archival tax, Mays is 2nd, 1st and 2nd for productivity in the last 6, 12 or 20 years.
  • For archival audit, Mays is 3rd, 3rd and 2nd in the nation for the last 6, 12 and 20 years.
  • For archival all topics, Mays is 3rd, 2nd and 2nd in the nation for the last 6, 12 and 20 years.

Mays accounting department also fared well in Public Accounting Report‘s recent “Annual Survey of Accounting Professors,” which ranks accounting programs based on feedback from more than 1,700 accounting professors nationwide. In the 2010 ranking, Mays’ accounting master’s program ranking increased to #7 from #9 overall and the undergraduate program ranking improved to 8th from 15th.

About Mays Business School

Mays Business School consistently ranks as one of the top public business schools in the country — with undergraduate, full-time and executive MBA, and PhD programs all ranked in the top 20 U.S. public schools. Currently enrolling more than 4,100 undergraduate students and 900 graduate students, Mays’ mission is to create knowledge and develop future ethical business leaders for a global society.

Categories: Departments

A quick Google search on the term “corporate sustainability” yields almost 3 million hits. In reading corporate press releases, annual reports, proxy statements, and other shareholder communications, it is clear that the idea of being a good corporate citizen has taken root and is more than a passing fad. Very few would argue that corporations should not consider the social and environmental considerations of their business practices, but the question remains: how do these practices affect cash flow, profitability, and shareholder value?

In the January-February 2011 issue of Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer discuss the concept of “shared value,” which recognizes that responsible business practices are not a zero-sum game. While similar in nature to corporate sustainability and corporate responsibility, shared value differs in that the benefits of corporate actions are viewed in conjunction with the costs of those actions, linking social concerns with economic realities. They cite the following examples:

  • Johnson & Johnson has implemented numerous wellness programs for its employees; the resulting savings of $250 million in healthcare costs provides them with a return of $2.71 for every dollar spent on those programs.
  • Walmart has saved $200 million in costs by reducing the amount of its packaging of products and reducing the miles driven by its delivery trucks. These changes not only saved money, but they helped the environment.

As more companies demonstrate that shared value is good for the planet and good for the bottom line, expect more shareholders to hold companies accountable for their actions. And expect more companies to embrace these opportunities to do well while doing “good.”

Categories: Deanspeak

Aggies are traditionally known for their hard work, integrity, enthusiasm, and dedication. It comes as no surprise, then, that when Newfield Exploration Company seeks new members to add to its dynamic team of professionals, they come here first.

“We have a long and proud association with Texas A&M,” Lee Boothby proudly asserted.

Recently named CEO of the crude oil and natural gas exploration company, Boothby offered this explanation as one of the many reasons why Aggies permeate the company at all levels today. More than a quarter of the Newfield executive leadership team boasts Aggie roots, and this proves testament to the long-standing relationship the company has with the school. Newfield Exploration has, among other gifts to Texas A&M, participated in funding the Joe Foster ’56 Chair in Business Leadership which supports scholarly research examining the multiple facets of business leadership.

“Tradition and values both play a strong role in business,” Newfield Exploration Company CEO Lee Boothby told a room full of Aggie MBA students. “It’s more than just numbers.” (view more photos)

“Tradition and values both play a strong role in business,” Boothby states. “It’s more than just numbers.”

Founded in 1988, Newfield Exploration Company has experienced growth in recent years. As part of their active intern and recruiting program, Boothby recently visited with Mays MBA students and shared the story of his own success. After finding himself on an unhappy career path, Boothby heeded the advice of his friends and accepted a job offer with Newfield. In 1999, he boarded a plane for Australia and began serving as managing director for the company overseas.

“Nothing happens until you start,” Boothby explained.

He urged MBA students to seek jobs where they are allowed to invest themselves in a passion, where they can truly make a difference. This is the easiest way to ensure that fledgling business associates can avoid winding up in the same “furnished rut” in which Boothby found himself stuck.

“We really seek a culture here at Newfield,” he said, explaining that the employee profile is like-minded yet culturally diverse, and that the company prides itself on its ability to recognize leadership potential in each of its employees.

The greatest asset many of the members of Newfield Exploration Company possess is the ability to express this potential without the explicit title of authority. “If you make the people around you better, you’re a leader,” Boothby asserted.

Categories: Executive Speakers

Good business is about basics proclaims John Harper ’84, vice president and CFO of Dell Systems. On a recent visit to Texas A&M, Harper outlined to a group of Mays students the fundamental tenets of success in the business world, which he says are also applicable outside of the career field.

Dell Services VP and CFO John Harper '84 shared some career tips with Mays students recently.
Dell Services VP and CFO John Harper ’84 shared some career tips with Mays students recently. (view more photos)

“It’s unsettling when a man’s 26-year career is distilled into just a few slides,” Harper jokes as he flips through his presentation.

Along with providing a work ethic outshining that of your peers and applying discretion to what you put in writing, Harper emphasizes aspects of a solid character as a suitable foundation for success in the business sector. “We live in a complicated world,” he says. “Don’t forget about the basics.”

These “basics” include exhibiting patience and good judgment, along with respect for every member of an organization, regardless of rank. This will help to distinguish you from your peers.

Harper’s list of tips
  • Be a worker, the person willing to outwork everybody else.
  • Find a great company where ethics matter.
  • Have patience. Wait for the process to work.
  • Use good judgment.
  • Practice good communications. In fact, over-communicate with your boss rather than under-communicate.
  • Value your people. Spend whatever it takes to get good people, then once you get them, treat them right.
  • Succeed in the matrix — which means realize you’re usually dealing with more than one boss.
  • Make the complex simple. But don’t simplify it so much you make it wrong.
  • Get it in writing. Be careful what you put in writing.
  • Don’t forget the basics.
  • Show respect to everyone.
  • Have fun.

“Attitude is so important,” Harper notes, adding that the amount of fun you see yourself having in your career is every bit as important as finding a company where ethics matter. “This is liberating as an employee,” he states, for “no level of structuring will protect you against ethics.”

Harper started his career working for 17 years with Perot Systems, and he credits working alongside Ross Perot for much of the advice that he prescribes. “Perot founded an entire industry,” he says, adding that Perot was “the most instinctive basic businessman.” The set of skills that Harper learned from Perot had much to do with maintaining a solid business constitution, but even more with sustaining a sound character. This presents an even more appealing portrayal of the company as a whole, which lends itself to the prosperity of the group.

Quoting Perot, Harper outlines the key principle to the success that Dell has experienced: “We’re not in the technology business, we’re in the people business. Technology changes; retaining and keeping people is the key.”

Categories: Executive Speakers, Former Students

In America, we tend to take a lot of things for granted — clean drinking water, safe infrastructure, cheeseburgers — but for 15 Mays Business School students, this will no longer be the case.

“India is gonna be a superpower soon,” says Katie Keech ’13, a sophomore business and management major at Texas A&M, in a recent interview in the Deccan Herald about her international field trip to Bangalore and Mysore, India.

Mays students at Reid and Taylor (India) Ltd.
Mays students at Reid & Taylor (India) Ltd.

Students were invited to participate in a two-week study abroad program in early January. Julian Gaspar, director of the Center for International Business Studies, conducted the trip in which students traveled to major business centers in southern India.

These Aggies blogged from overseas about visiting Cisco’s new $50 million campus in Bangalore, marveling at the center’s shockingly innovative technology.

“My favorite was the video conferencing room,” says Laura Stoma ’12, a junior accounting major. “Supposedly Mays has one of these systems, too.”

The group also visited the SDMIMD Institute in Mysore, and Infosys, where they dined in a floating restaurant and visited a training center that seemed to Kathryn Tears ’12, a junior accounting major, like “a mix between the Capitol Building and the Vatican.”

The Aggies took corporate field trips to Reid and Taylor and SPI, two companies whose retail work overseas has reached global proportions—”including Macy’s,” says Tears, “one of my favorites!”

Luckily, the trip wasn’t all work. They kept themselves busy and their heart rates up by scaling hundreds of stairs at the temple in Shravanabelagola, making mad dashes dodging traffic in Bangalore and riding elephants at the palace in Mysore.

In addition to studying Indian business practices, the students also found time to explore the culture of their host country.
In addition to studying Indian business practices, the students also found time to explore the culture of their host country.

The students enjoyed a little taste of home when they needed it most, too. After days of sampling exotic local cuisine, the president of Cisco in Bangalore hosted the Aggies at his house for dinner that was, according to Stoma, “more American than Indian,” giving their taste buds a break from the country’s rich spices.

This is only one of many examples of the compassion and hospitality that the Aggies received on their journey overseas.

“Everyone in India was so helpful and willing to give,” Tears posted. “For a group of people that in general does not have a lot of resources with which to give, their willingness to give everything they had, to a foreign stranger no less, touched me.”

Students also took note of the quiet dignity the people of India possess. Akin to our own Aggie pride, the citizens they encountered overseas did not boast about their own compassion and development, but rather leapt at the chance to share it with their new foreign friends.

“India is growing. India is awake. India is finally standing up for itself,” says Tears. “It has the energy and drive and the determination to make something of itself.”

Upon their return, each student will submit a 10-page research paper on a specific aspect of India’s business/cultural environment and make a presentation to the group in April.

“India is not for the faint of heart or the weak. If you want an adventure, go!” Tears urges, “but remember, do not pet the monkeys, or you will get rabies!”

To read more about the students’ trip overseas, visit their blog at maysblogs.tamu.edu/india.

Categories: Centers, Programs, Students