At 76 years old, Mitt Romney has this physical status:
Romney took the Michigan bar exam but decided to pursue a career in business rather than law after receiving his JD–MBA from Harvard. He was hired by several large companies but decided against joining the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), figuring out that working as a management consultant for a variety of companies would help prepare him for a future role as a CEO. He found his legal and business education in his work as part of a 1970s wave of top graduates who wanted to go into consulting rather than joining a large corporation directly. Executives regarded him as having a promising future in BCG practices such as the growth-share matrix. He worked at BCG as a colleague of Benjamin Netanyahu with whom he formed a friendship that has spanned decades.
He was recruited by Bain & Company, a Boston management consultancy firm that had existed a few years before by Bill Bain and several other ex-BCG employees. "He had the look of a man who was maybe ten years older," Bain later said of the 30-year-old Romney. Bain & Company, unlike other consultancy companies that made recommendations and then departed, embedded itself in a client's companies and continued to work with them until changes were made. In 1978, Romney became a vice president of the Monsanto Company, Outboard Marine Corporation, Burlington Industries, and Corning Incorporated. Within a few years, the firm named him one of the company's top consultants. In fact, clients used him more often than discerning partners.
During Romney's political campaigns, two family incidents during this period also emerged. Romney told him that his motorcycle had an insufficiently visible license number and that if he took the boat onto the lake, he would face a $50 fine. Romney said he would pay the fine despite dissatisfaction with the license and wanting to keep a family out of it. He was arrested for disorderly conduct by the ranger. The charges were dismissed several days later. He placed the family's dog in a windshield-equipped carrier on the roof of their vehicle in 1983, and then washed the car and carrier after the dog had a bout of diarrhea. The dog incident in particular became a source of fodder for Romney's analysts and political opponents later on.
In 1984, Romney gave Bain & Company a charter to co-found and lead the spin-off private equity investment group Bain Capital. He refused to accept Bill Bain's bid to lead the new venture until Bain renegotiated the terms in a complicated partnership framework, so that there was no financial or occupational risk to Romney. The new business, which had seven employees, needed $37 million to begin. Bain and Romney raised the money to begin. Romney held the positions of president and managing general partner. Despite the fact that he was the sole shareholder of the company, publications referred to him as managing director or CEO.
Bain Capital was initially focusing on venture capital investments. Romney developed a system in which any partner could veto one of these potential offerings, and he personally saw so many flaws that no venture capital investment was allowed in the first two years. The firm's first major success was in 1986 when founder Thomas G. Stemberg told Romney that despite the market size for office supplies and Romney persuaded others; Bain Capital earned a nearly sevenfold return on investment, and Romney sat on the board of directors for over a decade.
Bain Capital's focus changed from startups to leveraged buyouts, whereby purchasing existing businesses were largely borrowed from financial institutions and then selling them when the company's value reached, usually within a few years. Bain Capital lost money in several of its early leveraged buyouts, but later discovered deals that brought substantial returns. The company invested in or acquired Accuride Corporation, Brookstone, Domino's Pizza, Sealy Corporation, Sports Authority, and Artisan Entertainment, as well as other smaller firms in the commercial and medical industries. A substantial portion of the firm's income came from a relatively small number of deals; Bain Capital's overall success-to-failure ratio was about equal.
Romney found few investment opportunities (and those that he did not have to make money for the company in the first place). Rather, he concentrated on investigating the benefits of potential acquisitions based on feedback received and encouraging investors to participate in them once they were approved. Romney used deals within the company to keep people motivated, with some people retaining less than 10% for himself. During extensive analysis of whether or not to go forward with a contract, he often played the role of a devil's advocate. He wanted to pull a Bain Capital hedge fund that had initially lost money, but other partners disagreed with him, and the Bain Capital hedge fund eventually made billions. He dropped out of the Artisan Entertainment contract, not wanting to profit from a R-rated film studio. Romney served on the board of directors of Damon Corporation, a medical testing firm that was later found guilty of defrauding the government; Bain Capital tripled its investment before selling the company; and the fraud was not disclosed by the new owners (Romney was never charged). In some cases, Romney had no involvement with a business until Bain Capital acquired it.
Sometimes, leveraged buyouts by Bain Capital resulted in layoffs either shortly after the acquisition or later after the company had ended its service. Bain Capital's precise number of employees compared to those who were laid off due to a lack of records and Bain Capital's penchant for secrecy for itself and its investors is uncertain. The firm's primary investment goal was to maximize the value of acquired companies and the return to Bain's investors, not job creation. Despite the fact that the company's bankruptcy later went into bankruptcy, Bain Capital's acquisition of Ampad exemplified a deal where it profited handsomely from early payments and administration fees. Dade Behring was another instance where Bain Capital received an eightfold return on investment, but the company itself was saddled with debt and laid off over a thousand employees before Bain Capital was disbanded (the company went into bankruptcy with more layoffs) before recovering and prospering). Romney said in 2007: "While there are times the medication is a little resentful, it is still important to save the patient's life." My job was to try and make the company profitable, but I think the best defense a family could have is that the company they work for is solid."
Bain & Company, a financial company, asked Romney to return in 1990. In January 1991, it was announced as its new CEO, but he received a one-dollar salary (remaining managing general partner of Bain Capital at that time). He oversaw the company's attempt to restructure Bain & Company's employee stock-ownership scheme and real estate deals, as well as boosting fiscal transparency by excluding Bain and the other founding partners from the decision. He ordered Bain and other early owners to recover significant amounts, as well as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to pay less than half of the loan. He led Bain & Company back to profitability within a year. In December 1992, he handed over the company to new hands and restored it to Bain Capital.
Romney took a leave of absence from Bain Capital from November 1993 to November 1994 to run for the Senate of the United States. Ampad staff went on strike and begged Romney to intervene at that time, prompting Ampad workers to go on strike and begged for help. Romney met the strikers on advice from Bain Capital attorneys, but told them he had no position of active authority in the matter.
Bain Capital was on its way to become one of the country's top private equity companies by 1999, with 115 employees and $4 billion under management. The firm's average annual return to investors was 113%, and its average annual return to investors was around 50%-80%.
Romney took a paid leave of absence from Bain Capital in order to serve as both president and CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee beginning in February 1999. Billed in a public statement as a result of his part-time employment, Romney remained the firm's sole shareholder, CEO, and president, signing corporate and legal papers, tending to his company's interests, and starting lengthy talks regarding the terms of his resignation. He did not participate in the firm's day-to-day operations or the company's investment decisions regarding the new private equity funds. During this time, he remained on several boards of directors and regularly returned to Massachusetts to attend meetings.
Romney declared in August 2001 that he did not return to Bain Capital. His resignation from the company came in early 2002; he resigned as the firm's sole shareholder and negotiated an agreement that permitted him to receive a part of the company's profits as a former partner in some Bain Capital firms, including buyout and investment funds. The private equity market continued to thrive, earning him millions of dollars in annual income.