Friday, August 19, 2005

Walter Bass

An email interview of Deb (known as gimpymommi in MLM Survivors Club and What About Quixtar), grand daughter of Walter Bass. It is about her family involvement in Amway / Quixtar.

What was Mr. Walter Bass's Education, expertise and professional experience prior to his involvement in Amway?

My Grandfather, Walter Bass, had an outgoing manner and innate business savvy-ness that help him become a person who was very involved in the community. He was the Sales Manager for a local radio station; a Realtor (President of the State Realtor's Association); active in the Elks Club (Lifetime Member) and Junior Chamber of Commerce (State Chairman); taught the first Dale Carnegie courses in Grand Rapids (where he met Rich DeVos and Jay VanAndel) and helped in the startup/incorporation of the "American Way Co.", where he served as a mentor to Rich and Jay, and President of the Board of Directors for the first 12 years. (My mother joined him in his business in the mid-60s; and served as the Executive Administrator to the B.O.D.)

How big his organization was? Bonus check and structure?

While teaching the Carnegie course, he signed on as a distributor for Nutrilite under JA-RI (Jay and Rich's business name). By the time Amway was formed, he had maybe 100 distributors in his downline - most of whom chose to become Amway Distributors, also. I believe it was in 1979, that he achieved the level of Emerald distributor. By then, his "strong leg" which included Hansens/Victors...and on down to Yager/Britt; and was the single largest LOS in Amway. The best year ever was 1995, when the Emerald Bonus was over a half-million dollars.

Did Mr. Walter Bass do something in 1979 FTC case against Amway?

In 1979, my Grandfather was one of the folks who testified before the Senate Subcommittee investigating whether Amway was a pyramid scheme or not - I believe his strong commitment to retailing, plus the fact that he had people in his downline who were higher pins and made more money than he did - certainly helped sway the decision that it was NOT illegal.

Was he and / or his downline involved in BSM a.k.a. Tools?

In my Grandfather's downline, some high-level distributors (most notably Dexter Yager) were developing a new way to make money - by selling training and motivational "tools" and holding functions. He was vehemently opposed to this concept - said that new recruits should be helped in any way possible, for FREE, to make a profit. His own business offered free shipping and handling to any distributor until they achieved the 15% bonus level; and he maintained a warehouse that held $25,000 worth of inventory, for quicker service. We had an Accounts Receivables - payment for orders was expected 30 days after shipment, to help distributors collect their profits from their customers; and we accepted Visa and MasterCard. "Sales Boosters" such as the Artistry Sample Kit were loaned for free, and informational literature was given freely. He strongly encouraged retailing - and most of his immediate downline had retail customers. No matter what he was able to do for our "personal group" distributors - he was powerless to stop the AMOs from their vampire-like tactics in the "legs" below our immediate group.

How much profit BSM downline generated for you?

By the time of his death in 1993, there were several AMOs in our downline - and *IF* any of our immediate downline wanted access to tools or functions, we put them in touch with Skip Ross, who was affiliated with Network 21. At no time ever, did we receive any kind of AMO money; and we warned our downline that these items were optional and very likely to cut into their profit margins.

Did Amway collected some data from you?

Our group certainly seemed to be profitable - we were very aware of their retail sales because we often shipped directly to their customers! And in the mid-90's, this seemed to catch the attention of the Amway Corporation...we were "audited". I, as the business manager, had to provide invoices and a "payment trail" for every order I placed for an entire year. I've never heard of anyone else having to do this (it was a royal pain-in-the-butt) - but in hindsight, I wonder if the Corporation was collecting evidence, should it ever have to prove to the FTC that they enforced their own retail-sales rules???

What your downline experienced in Amway -> Quixtar shift? Was it a smart move in your opinion? What do you recommend to IBOs?

In 1999, the changeover to Quixtar was awkward, to say the least. Our long-time distributors were confused by the new terms; and many of our long-time IBOs did NOT use computers. They felt their identities were being taken away. Some of our 100PV-per-month IBOs (the backbone of the business, if you ask me?!) were giving up. It seemed even Amway didn't know from month-to-month who they were or where they were headed?? I couldn't help but feel the Corporation was being pulled apart by the desires and financial clout of the AMO Kingpins...

And Quixtar may ultimately be the undoing of Amway. The same computer-savvy folks that are recruited into Quixtar, are also able to find information on the internet that speaks less-than-glowingly of the scam of the AMOs and how the Corporation tacitly supports them. I have been a member of a few well-moderated forums regarding this. Once in a while, I stumble onto a person of great integrity, who chooses to run their Amway/Quixtar business above-board and without the AMO tools - I try to support these good folks as much as possible because they have hard work ahead of them. But too many people buy into the "5-year plan for financial freedom" and since this is pure AMO rubbish - I advise these folks to run as fast as they can!

Do you think there is a problem with Quixtar?

Until the Corporation has the backbone to stand up to the AMOs and clean up their act (if it didn't happen in the '80s [see the Postma Memo]- I'm sure not holding my breath now) the once-good name of Amway will always be tarnished by the AMO scam. I see the children of DV and VA positioning the Corporation to be less reliant on the MLM product sales - and with good reason. I predict that some day, they'll just sell out the MLM portion to the AMO kingpins; and continue their other pursuits.

How about rumors on boards about your family? And how much truth is in them?

I appreciate Imran giving me a chance to tell about my family's involvement with Amway. I'm proud of the integrity and ideals we maintained while running our business. I have seen the good side of Amway; and read/heard too much about the bad. Certain people have taken my words, twisted them, added their opinions, and posted them on forums I choose not to participate in - I hope that folks who read those lies will see the real truth here?


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At 8/19/2005 08:04:00 AM, Blogger Eric said...

Excellent post. Great interview.


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