Anyone on the receiving end of a company downsizing has two traditional paths immediately open to them: start looking for another job or venture into consulting work. While a new job may be hard to find in a recession, consulting may not only be a lucrative alternative, thankfully, but also a way to find another permanent position.
For those with decades of experience in upper management, options may be limited. “I realized I didn’t need just a job, I really needed the right job with the right company,” comments Buzz Goodwin.
Having been employed, for the most part, by only a handful of companies in his career— initially running sales for Music People, becoming VP and an officer at Audio-Technica, and then heading up worldwide sales efforts for various brands at Harman (most recently for JBL, from which he resigned)—Goodwin had only a short resumé. Yet it was very deep, so, as he says, “I didn’t want to get into a situation where I’m selling insurance.”
Happily, despite his two-year, post-JBL venture—president of distribution company FDW-Worldwide— not meeting his financial backers’ expectations fast enough, Goodwin didn’t have to jump straight back into the job market. “I’ve been very fortunate,” he says. “I took a few months’ downtime to regroup, and to reconnect with my family. How many more times am I going to watch the ball game with my 85-year-old father?”
Currently consulting with two clients, he reports, including Record Plant Studios in Hollywood, he also had to turn down a couple, but will add a third shortly. “The other company I’m working for is Rhodes Music Corp., formerly Fender Rhodes, where I’ve taken a position as EVP of worldwide sales. It sounds fulltime, but they’ve given me this title to give me the clout to pull together worldwide distribution.”
Buzz Goodwin There’s a definite upside to consulting, he says. “It has some incredible financial rewards if you work it right. Then there are the flexible hours. And best of all, you get to pick and choose the companies you’re working for.”
Even so, Goodwin is open to offers: “I don’t want people to think that I wouldn’t entertain an offer of a position.”
Rick McClendon, formerly at Seymour Duncan, was able to parlay a consultancy gig into a fulltime position at Aphex. Nobody was hiring when he parted company with his former employer in 2008, at the depth of the recession. “So my idea was to go out and maybe find three, four, five different companies and give them each 10 hours a week, depending on what they needed,” he recalls.
The day after leaving Seymour Duncan, McClendon was on a plane to Summer NAMM in Nashville. “Right before the doors closed, a guy came and sat in the center seat. He was going to NAMM, he was a manufacturer, and he turned out to be my first client!”
Anybody can luck into one consulting job, observes McClendon, so he drew up a list of over 50 industry contacts and generated three leads in his first five phone calls. “One of the leads was Aphex, and they became my second client. I got a third client, and about that time, Aphex was acquired by DWB Entertainment. They needed somebody on site; they asked a couple of people and they said, ‘You’ve already got him.’ So they made me an offer to come on as general manager.”
Leaving Fender after 12 years in international sales and marketing, six of them in his native England before relocating to the U.S., Jon Gold quickly found his feet in consulting. Despite everyone telling him that it could be six to 18 months before he could make a living from it, he reports, “I was very fortunate; I picked up clients within a month. By the second month, I was making money.”
With his international expertise, Gold has found a niche helping U.S. companies sustain business in the down economy, and even grow it, by expanding overseas. Currently on retainer with two clients, he started with a third at the end of May.