Chapter Fourteen - 1979
Getting the Point
(Equivalent to 14 pages in hard copy)
January 1979 – time to clean house. Tired of being a landlord, I sell the head lease of 68th Street to Ron Ferri and take a one-bedroom apartment at Mr. Solo’s new building at 265 East 66th Street on Manhattan’s Third Avenue – it looks like a Cartier lighter.
Mito puts most of the remaining furniture in 68th Street into storage, and John Brewer designs 66th Street for me including two, sleek, grey-flannel sofas, and mirrored walls with cantilevered glass shelves.
I return to London. After last summer’s meeting with Harper and Clive Vlieland-Boddy, I was determined to get rid of Harper and the lot he had brought in to Carter & Company UK, and retake control of the company.
As usual, I had placed too much faith and trust, too quickly, in all of them. George was a gent, they weren’t, and he couldn’t control them. In my rush to establish the business in the United States, I had let loose of the reins in the UK, and it was hurting.
Martin Vlieland-Boddy was off on a tangent. On a trip to Aberdeen, Scotland, he discovered that the North Sea oil rigs use specialized containers to restock supplies and deliver “mud.” Ferries bring these 6-foot by 6-foot by 6-foot, steel containers alongside the rigs, the boxes are craned aboard, emptied, and… dumped into the sea!
On the spur of the moment, and not consulting me nor anyone else, Martin believes we should get into the North Sea container supply business, and, as Deputy Managing Director, but without authorization from the Board, spends £76,000 for land in Aberdeen to establish a depot, and buys two trucks and 30 skips for £13,000, and a £12,000 forklift. Also, he hires, a Michael Cowie, the head of a nearby Interpool subsidiary that has a similar depot, at a salary of £18,000 a year. Unfortunately, Martin and Cowie can’t agree on anything (what does Martin know?) and the business never gets off the ground.
I terminate Martin, hire David Clayton, a very experienced man in the area, who immediately approaches all the oil companies directly. He is confident the depot and leasing operations will be ready by September 1979. The opinion of the Board is that the North Sea operation may turn out to be the most profitable part of our business.
Now I examine Clive Vlieland-Boddy’s activities. He’s bought a Nixdorf computer we don’t need, and the weekly cash withdrawals he authorizes for directors’ fees and his expenses are outrageous. A more thorough examination might well have indicated misappropriation if not embezzlement, and when Clive failed to produce the financial statements I required, he accepted my insistence of his resignation without a peep.
I also fire director, Ian Landless, who had been brought in by David Harper and Clive, for drawing excessive funds and initiating discussions with competing firms without authorization. He leaves and starts his own container sales company to compete with us.
It is obvious that David Harper is the king-pin of all these unscrupulous dealing and people, and, himself, is making side deals using the company’s name. I force his resignation as well.
It is the end of January and I still have no firm idea of the financial position of the UK company. I hire a full-time, in-office accountant to get to the bottom of everything. George and the rest of the Board feels that with Lonnie Foster achieving a 98% utilization of our containers through C=go, and David Clayton turning the North Sea Operation around, there is no doubt that under strict financial control this company can have a really great future. It just wasn’t much fun for me anymore.
Happily, sales in Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany are growing and profitable. One of our key men in Germany is Chuck Bade, my old IOS colleague in Okinawa, who is working in the Heidelberg region.
I keep up appearances…
At the beginning of March, I fly to New York to oversee John’s installation of his design for 66th Street. Now you won’t believe this, as I almost couldn’t, but this is not a photoshopped image… it is the first time I have ever seen a C=go Container, and it is unloading at 265 East 66th Street - my new home!
When I return to London, I sell both 19 Chester Street and Headfort Place, give up the lease on the Rolls-Royce, and sell the Ferrari. There is now plenty of cash in the company and the rumors of its insolvency are squashed.
In addition, an excellent article on the future of the container industry is published in Lloyd’s List…
In April, I fly to Naples and meet with Steve Briggs to finalize the purchase of Camp Cork (originally Camp Wonundra as named by Rockefeller) on Upper Saranac Lake. Steve’s a nice guy, from the family that started Briggs & Stratton, the small gasoline motor manufacturer. He only owned the Camp for a few years and shared it with two other couples (with recognizable names). It seems the others wanted to sharing each other as well as the Camp, so he decided to get out; they went along with the sale.
April 10, I pick up Mito on the way back through New York, and we meet Gil (who had come down from London) and Baroness Carrie de Vendeuvre (a pal who had come down from Paris) in Marrakesh where I had rented a fine palace owned by John Paul Getty through the Baroness Rochefoucauld, also from Paris.
We are a happy lot, and revel in the wonderful food, the pool at La Mamounia Hotel, and the cactus garden of Yves Saint-Laurent who is our neighbor. He is a charmer and has a houseful of very attractive guys including Marc Bohan, head designer of Dior.
The Duchess of Duke Street is a BBC television drama series set in London between 1900 and 1925. It was created by John Hawkesworth, previously the producer of the ITV period drama Upstairs, Downstairs. It starred Gemma Jones as Louisa Leyton/Trotter, the eponymous "Duchess" who works her way up from servant to renowned cook to proprietrix of the upper-class Bentinck Hotel in Duke Street, St. James's, in London.The story is loosely based on the real-life career of Rosa Lewis (née Ovenden), the "Duchess of Jermyn Street", who ran the Cavendish Hotel in London.
April 22, Guy Munthe approaches me with his plans for the play, “P.S. Your Cat is Dead.” I go to a performance and like it a lot.
Here’s what we came up with:
The last time I saw Guy, he was on his way to Afghanistan. He told me he got shot in the penis. He sent me this…
With the formation of the French company on May 2, Carter & Company, S.A., Geneva, Switzerland now has incorporated subsidiaries in 13 other countries.
Business is good; the UK company’s audit will be ready by the end of the month, and I have invited George and Elizabeth Lane, Stuart and Mrs. Kirby, Paul Lazenby, Chuck and Susie Bade, and Gil Karnig to The Point - as I have renamed Camp Cork/Camp Wonundra – August 8–23.
I leave for the Woods on May 18th via Montreal.
I arrive after dark with a bunch of keys and no idea of what they fit. I finally get the front door open, now... I have to find the light switches. I laugh at myself fumbling along the walls, and finally turn on some lights. I cross the driveway to the garage; "where is the caretaker?" I wonder.
Following the path alongside the garage, I am looking for the guide’s room at the back when... I step off a six-foot cliff!
Enough! There is food in the fridges and freezers, I make supper, wine glass in hand, and after finding Cassiopeia – the “Big W” for Wonundra - make my way to bed.
Cassiopeia is a constellation in the northern sky, named after the vain queen Cassiopeia in Greek mythology, who boasted about her unrivalled beauty. Cassiopeia was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations today.
It is easily recognizable due to its distinctive 'W' shape, formed by five bright stars. It is opposite the Big Dipper.
The Europeans from Carter & Company UK and S.A. arrive on August 11. I’ll let the cover story of Forbes tell you the rest of the story…
You can see the point of The Point in the middle of the painting, just above the “Narrows.”
And that was the end of Carter & Company UK and S.A. and all the associated/affiliated “Carterettes.”
Robert Townsend, the CEO of AVIS (rent-a-car), wrote in his best-selling business book, Up the Organization (mandatory reading for all my executives and students), “We’re in business for fun and profit, but mainly for both.”
Otherwise, what’s the point?
Carter & Company stopped being fun, so I signed over all my shares of all the companies to those who wanted them, wished them luck, and said “goodbye.”
Later, I heard that the U.K. Inland Revenue had removed the tax advantages, e.g. Capital Allowances and beneficial income treatment, from equipment ownership and leasing programs similar to the one we had pioneered, and, as a result, the market dried up and the UK company went bankrupt. What happened in the rest of the world, I have no idea. As for Bingham, Dana & Gould, they charged Carter & Company $250,000 for a one-page opinion stating that the company’s business concept would not fly in the United States.
END OF CHAPTER FOURTEEN
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The Cast – Chapters Ten through Fourteen:
Mito Catral, Margaret L. Carter, Johnny Galliher,
Jacques Sarli, François Catroux, Edward Zajac,
Al Pacino, John Brewer, Jackie Kennedy, Pierre Suter,
Martha & Sam Welker, Baroness Carrie de Vendeuvre, Prince Rupert Loewenstein, Cappy Badrutt,
Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, Gilles Dufour,
Eli Wallitt, Bernie Cornfeld, Charlie Freeman,
Roy and Buthena Kirkdorffer, Harold Levi,
Mr. & Mrs. Truman Anderson, Mr. H.A. Jacques, Daniel Droze,
Mana Weiser, Mr. Toblerone, Dr. David Trueblood,
Sir John Templeton,
Stewart Granger, Peter Herzog, David Fitts, Jerry Ratz,
Mr. Liers, Pat Minihan, Albert Moth, Nat Greenburg, Eric Banks, John French, Frank Charlton,
Barry Fletcher, Jaime Granger, Baron Tieson, David Hamilton,
Prince Hohenlohe, Countess Obolensky,
Ron Ferri & Jean Pierre, John Stock, Duchess of Sutherland, Guy Munthe, Axel Munthe, Colin Tennant,
Brian & Peggy Taylor, George & Elizabeth Lane,
Klaus von Bülow,
Dixon Boardman, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Creighton, Ken Carr, David Jones,
Warren Serenbetz, The Earl of Lanesborough,
Sir Harmar Nicholls,
John McCarthy, Norman Gurov, Gerald Lubner, Bill Bennette, David Hicks, Selwyn Elkin, John Kay, David Warner,
Stephen Kaufmann, David Sulzberger, Simon Trimble,
Allen Warren, Lionel Bart, Sir Guy Millard, Ben Coleman,
Tony Hail, Chuck Posey, Walt & Florence Patnode,
Henry McIlhenny, Add and Wit, Vincent Friia, Peter Marshall, Tony Cloughley, Alessandro Albrizzi, Tim Krusi, Alan Jones, Logan, Nora, Michael Beuttler,
Paul Wheeler, Richard Taylor, Jeremy Norman, Derek Frost, Bob Perkins, Eduardo Llanyo, William Thuiller, Nicholas Kimber, Max Maguire,
John Schlesinger, Nicky Lane, Bobby Fryer, Mark McCormick, April Ashley, Graham White, Dicky Fife, Christopher McDonell, Andre Moussoulos,
Anthony Redmile, Harold Gould, Ralph Clark, Naim Akill, Anthony Brown,
Alan Lumsden, Sompong Toomvhun,
Alix & Tom Dame and their daughters, Leslie and Laura,
Debbie Leonard, Charlie Keough, Bob Tebbutt, Moe Sherman,
May & Dan Leonard, Danny & Betty Leonard,
Jack & Mary Tennant,
Dody & Bill Oliver, George & Isabel Brett, Danforth Leonard,
Jean & Andy Jones, David Harper, Lonnie Foster, David Griggs,
Michael Fish & Trevor, Sheridan Dufferin, Mr. Robert George,
Mr. Clive Vlieland-Boddy, Martin Vlieland-Boddy, Ian Landless,
Lord Litchfield, George Lazenby, Paul Lazenby,
Major Anthony Everette,
Rupert Everette, Paul Littlewood, John Addey, Gil Karnig, Jackson Kelly,
Bill Hurlock, Walter Otto, Henri Tschudi, Ray LaMay,
Parker Packard, Hank Snow, Dr. Trudeau, Gary Trudeau, William Avery Rockefeller, Steve Briggs,
Joe & Clarissa Blagden, Tom Blagden, Steve Blagden,
Robert Carrier, Miss Audré, Alan Sievewright, Placido Domingo,
Michael Cowie, David Clayton, Chuck & Susie Bade,
Yves Saint-Laurent, Marc Bohan,
Moments from Chapter Fourteen
A more thorough examination might well have indicated misappropriation if not embezzlement!
One of our key men in Germany is Chuck Bade,
my old IOS colleague in Okinawa.
With the formation of the French company on May 2,
Carter & Company, S.A., Geneva, Switzerland now has incorporated subsidiaries in 13 other countries.
I rented a palace owned by John Paul Getty in Marrakesh.
We are Mito, Baroness Carrie de Vendeuvre, Gil Karnig, and Baroness Rochefoucauld, and revel in the wonderful food,
the pool at La Mamounia, and the cactus garden of
Yves Saint-Laurent who is our neighbor.
He is a charmer and has a houseful of very attractive guys including Marc Bohan, the head designer of Dior.
“We’re in business for fun and profit, but mainly for both.”
“There’s a hell of a lot more to life than working all the time.”
“But I didn’t want the house to be empty” …
new chapter coming!
Gil says Bob Carrier’s boyfriend has an amazing house in the Mdina, nearby, but he was in London where he is the General Consul from Morocco to the UK.
I have great fun in the souks and buy all sorts of wonderful-looking (until I get them back to the cold light of day in London) pottery items and a couple of dozen, elegant kaftans.
Getting back to London, I check into the penthouse of the Cavendish Hotel, my new temporary home…
Mito, Carrie, and Marc Bohan