The Bottom Line Is the Bottom Line

With the gobbling up of the Washington Group, Inc. (WGI) construction firm last week we thought it an odd disconnect that local media was bemoaning the “loss” of yet another local corporate headquarters in Boise.

The disconnect comes when our city is constantly on the cutting edge of “business friendly” communities or states –especially when it comes to taxes, regulation, wages (low) and general business climate. Just listen to the Chamber of Commerce or read Money, Inc. and Forbes magazines annual top 10, 25, or 100 cities issues. Truth of the matter is simple: “It’s just business.”

The former greats like Boise Cascade, Or-Ida Foods, and Albertson have gone by the wayside as well. No amount of “face time” with the Value Stores CEO and Team Dave or special legislation could save that deal and Albertson’s Larry Johnston quietly went to the bank and disappeared.

The sole “big business” headquarters left here is Micron and they have lost so much money over the years–while the execs got rich–the state of Idaho will NEVER see income taxes from them. J.R. Simplot remains a privately held company which survives despite all the takeovers, mergers, and buyouts. As J.R. himself approaches 100, we think that last bastion of free enterprise could also vanish.

In the case of WGI, they are new to to town and have no legitimate link to the old Morrison-Knudsen company that was run into the ground by Bill Agee. The shareholders took a bath on that deal and if memory serves correctly (it sometimes does not) WGI also went bankrupt once as well.

Bottom line: businesses come and go based on the bottom line and things change despite attempts by politicos to “encourge growth and development.”

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. You are correct. MK went bankrupt once (1996) and WGI went bankrupt once a couple of years later. In both cases the holders of common stock were largely blown off.

    The first was due, in my opinion, to Agee mismanagement and a Board of Directors (Peter Lynch et al.) who did not provide adequate oversight. The second was due to a large acquisition gone wrong. Now, the only link to the MK of old is the presence of many of the fine employees who managed to survive those years. It would be interesting to know how many of the current Boise employess date back more than 12 or 13 years.

  2. It would be interesting to know how many current (new) residents in our faire city have no idea what or who MK, Bill Agee, etc. are.

    Times change and I’m not sure what to do about it all. It’s funny how you talk about before Boise Town Square Mall existed and people look at you like it was 100 years ago…

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: