Benjamin Moore & Co. formally announced the appointment of Robert S. (Bob) Merritt as CEO following the departure of Denis Abrams, who headed the company for seven years but was reportedly dismissed after he took several top company executives on a company-paid pleasure trip to Bermuda.
| Robert S. Merritt|
Merritt is a longtime executive in the restaurant and food-processing and distribution industries, and was senior vice president and chief financial officer of Outback Steakhouse Inc., Benjamin Moore said in the announcement.
At Outback, he oversaw the initial public offering of the company’s stock in 1991, and played a central role in the company’s expansion from five restaurants in Florida to more than 1,250 locations in 22 countries, Benjamin Moore said.
The company said the original Outback brand also was parlayed during Merritt’s tenure into seven additional restaurant concepts, including Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Roy’s, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar.
Merritt’s resume also includes time with Price Waterhouse, where his clients in various industries included a major railroad, a plumbing-supply manufacturer and distributor and a manufacturer of medical imaging equipment. He has a B.B.A. degree in accounting from George Washington University.
“Benjamin Moore is an icon of American industry and a valued heritage brand among paint and coatings products,” Merritt said in the company’s announcement on his appointment. “I look forward to the challenges ahead, building on the company’s successful history, and helping to prepare it for the next 50 years.”
Abrams reportedly was let go on the orders of parent company Berkshire Hathaway after he and several other senior Benjamin Moore executives celebrated a long-overdue improvement in sales with a trip to Bermuda. (See CEO Sunk by Cruise?)
The sacking produced headlines in the spicy New York City tabloid New York Post, which reported details of the circumstances surrounding the dismissal while attributing the information to unidentified company sources. The story, billed as an “exclusive,” can be read at Warren Buffett fired Benjamin Moore CEO after Bermuda cruise.
The Post story gave an unflattering portrait of Abrams, quoting one former executive as saying the former CEO referred to himself as a “dictator” and threatened to ax those who disagreed with him.
Benjamin Moore & Co., founded in 1883, is a producer of residential, commercial and industrial maintenance coatings, with products distributed via a network of independent paint and decorating retailers throughout North America.