From Household Brand to Bankruptcy, How Not to Be Like These 6 Companies
Things change. Want proof? How many companies that you know today will be in business 30 years from now? Judging by history, many will be gone—and the names may shock you. Apple, McDonalds, Verizon, Costco, Target, Facebook—any or all of these giants could be gone by 2047. Let’s just go back in time to 1987 to see which companies seemed too big to fail and are now gone.
Once Great Brands, Now Gone
Pan American—Also known simply as Pan Am, this was once the world’s greatest airline. This company helped shape the international airline industry by launching the first widespread use of jumbo jets and computer reservation systems.
The brand became a cultural icon and by its peak in the early 1970’s it had over a billion in cash reserves, which in 1970’s dollar was a lot more than a billion today. By 1991 this once great company ceased operations.
Kodak—A well-known company throughout the 20th century in photography circles, they got started to late switching over to the digital age. They filed bankruptcy in 2012. But if you saw them in 1976, they dominated 90% of film sales in the U.S. and 85% of camera sales. Who could predict the mighty would fall so fast?
Woolworth’s—This used to be one of the greatest, if not greatest retail companies of all-time. It set trends. The Woolworth building in New York City was the tallest skyscraper in the world from 1913 to 1930. By 1979 Woolworth’s was the largest department store chain in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Market share slowly started to erode and by 1993 they closed half of their 800 remaining locations. A rapid decline continued from there and the company was soon bought out and is now just a memory to Baby Boomers.
Blockbuster—If you wanted to rent a movie, this is where you used to go. At its peak, Blockbuster employed over 84,000 people and had more than 9,000 stores. It didn’t take long for Netflix and online video on demand to crumble this once great empire.
Despite the fact there a still a handful of physical stores left in Alaska* (where the internet during the long winter isn’t as reliable), the brand is dead and it’s not coming back.
Circuit City—An electronic conglomerate, there were sprawling 30,000 sq. feet retail locations spread out in every city in America throughout the 1990s. The big box strategy eventually failed them as they couldn’t distinguish themselves from other Best Buys, Home Depots, Sears, and Lowes. Their last-ditch effort to cut costs by lowering employee wages from $8.75 an hour to $7.40 only accelerated the loss of sales. By 2009 Circuit City was done.
Compaq—This once giant computer company rose to prominence in the 1980s and 90s, but at the turn of the century began to struggle with lower cost alternatives such as Dell, Toshiba, and Acer. Sales slowed and they were bought out by HP in 2002 and the brand was finally discontinued in 2013.
If I told you in 1987 that all the above companies would be defunct within a generation, you’d have called me crazy. But this is just a small sample of once-great companies that are no longer great. I could mention Polaroid, Borders, Enron, Remington Typewriters, Napster—you get the idea.
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Grant Cardone is a New York Times bestselling author, the #1 sales trainer in the world, and an internationally renowned speaker on leadership, real estate investing, entrepreneurship, social media, and finance. His 5 privately held companies have annual revenues exceeding $100 million. Forbes named Mr. Cardone #1 of the “25 Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017”. Grant’s straight-shooting viewpoints on the economy, the middle class, and business have made him a valuable resource for media seeking commentary and insights on real topics that matter. He regularly appears on Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, and MSNBC, and writes for Forbes, Success Magazine, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com, and the Huffington Post. He urges his followers and clients to make success their duty, responsibility, and obligation. He currently resides in South Florida with his wife and two daughters.