Thursday, August 16, 2012

Himmelding banned 50 meetings for caffeine use

SAN FRANCISCO -- A shock of seismic proportions struck the Field Sales Division on Wednesday when Lofta-Whippy Inc. suspended account manager Lyle "Bob" Himmerding for 50 meetings for testing positive for caffeine, a performance-enhancing substance.

The suspension, during which Himmelding will not be paid, is effective immediately.  Himmelding, 28, was enjoying a career-best quarter. He was named Most Valuable Player in last month's sales team win of the Groscznick account at Kansas City, where he went 2-for-3 in package presentations with a $2 million home run contract. The "switch-hitter" (nicknamed so for his sales and marketing prowess) leads Lofta-Whippy with 159 contracts and 52 multi-package deals  while landing 34.6% of potential sales deals -- the second-highest average in the Software Division of Lofta-Whippy -- with $11 million in home run contracts and 60 patents in 113 opportunities.

Though none of the Field Sales Division said so directly, an undercurrent of frustration ran through their Pacific Heights office campus as they struggled to understand why Himmelding, a seven-year Lofta-Whippy veteran, would flout established rules.

"Ultimately it was just a bad decision," said account executive Chas Wolfschmad. "That's all I'm really going to say about it."

Asked if anger was among the emotions he felt, manager Walter Goldstein replied, "I'd say more disappointment. He's such a great teammate and was having such a nice year for us. Unfortunately, these things happen in sales. There's not a lot you can do about it. I guess the best thing you can do is keep educating associates so these things don't happen."

Tied for first place in the Software Division West region with the Glendale branch as the workday began Wednesday, the Field Sales Division had 45 scheduled meetings remaining as Himmelding was officially sidelined. His suspension will continue into the start of the 4th Quarter if the Field Sales Division qualifies, but Himmelding could return if the Field Sales Division brings at least five additional opportunities after the end of its schedule. That would complete his suspension.

"I'm not thinking about that," Goldstein said. "We have too many meetings in front of us. This is a tight race. So I'll be honest -- that's the last thing on my mind right now."

Of course, reaching the 4th Quarter will become a challenge for the Field Sales Division without Himmelding, their No. 3 salesman. Account manager Cliff VandeGraaf has been presenting in front of Himmelding during last week's round of meetings with Klout Schneider Electronics and can be expected to fill that role for the remainder of the quarter. Lyle "Pop" Kaminsky replaced Himmelding in software marketing, though it's questionable whether he'll present the bulk of the deals at that spot.

The Field Sales Division did not immediately announce a replacement for Himmelding on their 25-man team.

"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Himmelding said in a statement issued by the Software Sales & Marketing Association. "I accept my suspension under the Coffee is Evil Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Field Sales Division organization, and to my customers for letting them down."

The Field Sales Division also issued a statement:

"We were extremely disappointed to learn of the suspension of Bob Himmelding for violating Lofta-Whippy Inc.'s Caffeine Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Lofta-Whippy Inc.'s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our line of business. Per the protocol outline by Lofta-Whippy Inc.'s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Field Sales Division will not comment further on this matter."

Himmelding's total sales for the quarter was 13 points behind that of branch-leader Mark McGillicuddy of Potrero Hill prior to Wednesday's meetings. With 501 potential sales presentations, Himmelding is one shy of automatically qualifying for the Software Division Employee of the Year. However, he would win the title if he were still to have the division's highest sales with a theoretical landing of one successful deal.

Himmelding's quarter-long excellence this year appeared to guarantee him a lucrative contract after this fiscal year, when he'll be eligible for a promotion to executive account manager. The Field Sales Division reportedly explored a multiyear extension for Himmelding recently but broke off talks with his representatives.

Himmelding signed a one-year, $160,000 contract with the Field Sales Division prior to the current fiscal year.

Himmelding, who joined the San Francisco Field Sales Division in a November job summit with the Kansas City branch, replacing veteran pitchman Sal Reinheitsgebot, has been a popular team member since his arrival as a full-time software sales champion with the Red Bank, NJ branch in 2006. His personality prompted coffee mugs reading, "WIN" -- a take-off on the company's "Got WIN?" advertising campaign -- and he carries numerous nicknames such as "Bobbo" and "Sport," in addition to "Bob" as he is most commonly known as.

He was the starting package specialist for the 2009 Software Sales-champion Red Bank branch, but was laterally assigned to the Atlanta branch after the close of the 4th quarter. He had a poor year with Atlanta, and was demoted to the Kansas City branch. He had a resurgence with Kansas City, landing 30.5% of potential sales with with 44 multi-package deals and 87 patents.

He is the second Field Sales Division associate to receive a suspension this year for using a performance-enhancing substance. Closer Mark Sharkley Costanzo is currently serving a 100-meeting suspension for testing positive for caffeine and citicoline, his second suspension for violating Lofta-Whippy's Caffeine Prevention and Treatment Program. He has begun shuffling power-point decks in anticipation of rejoining the Field Sales Division, but is still working with Harry Jingelhammer, who is widely believed to be a caffeine user.

This story was not subject to the approval of Lofta-Whippy Inc. or its management.

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