Our report on the new body sculpting business with ownership connections to the failed Fig/Lipodissolve empire has raised interesting questions about who is in charge of a business.
The meteoroic rise of Fig was big news in the business world... so its overnight collapse in December, 2007 also made headlines.
And so news that three former Fig officers formed a new company offering cosmetic medical services is newsworthy. That the new company was formed within three weeks of Fig's shutdown -- and opened for business about two months later -- made it even more relevant.
But the question has been raised... were these three people really "officers" at Fig?
The new company is BENU Medical. Articles of organization filed with the Missouri Secretary of State list three people as the company's owners/organizers. John Huhn is one of those owners and he admits he was a vice president at Fig. Former high-level insiders at Fig say the other two organizers were also vice presidents.
But Huhn is the one who returned our calls to answer questions about BENU Medical, so we'll deal with this question as it relates to him. Although he declined to do an on-camera interview he did speak with us on the phone and sent a statement by email. You can read it here, but his main argument is this:
"I was middle management at fig. Though I was a VP, I was the 3rd layer down in a 5-layer organization and I was not privy to the senior management decision-making, nor was I a part of the "executive team."
As you can see, Huhn says while he was a vice president, he did not wield any influence at Fig. That statement is contradicted by former insiders and creditors, but since Huhn is the only person going on the record and agreeing to atribution, we'll give him some latitude.
So that got us wondering... does it mean anything to be a vice president?
Professor Jim Fisher at the St. Louis University School of Business says it's true the title of vice president has been "devalued" somewhat and often doesn't carry the weight it once did. He says that's especially true as a company becomes larger. At the time Fig closed, it had about 500 employees.
But there is weight in numbers. BENU Medical has been organized by not one, but three former Fig vice presidents. And as you can see, Huhn admits he is capitalizing on what he learned during his time at Fig in operating BENU Medical. It was this aspect of the story which prompted creditors we spoke with to express some "discomfort" with the former vice presidents opening a company similar to Fig while they still await some settlement from Fig bankruptcy procedings.
That bankruptcy, by the way, was converted in May from a Chapter 11, to a chapter 7, likely not good news for creditors.
For the record... we want to emphasize that Rob Semaan, Fig's flashy co-founder, is not invovled in any way with BENU Medical. Huhn said during his time at Fig he had "disagreements" with the way Semaan was running the company.
Perhaps that bodes well for the future of BENU Medical.