Since starting his crisis management firm in 1989, Mike Sitrick has handled media relations for more than 300 bankruptcy cases, including such spectacular meltdowns as Orange County’s and Global Crossing’s. Sitrick also has helped scandal-plagued organizations navigate controversies, including those that hit the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Getty Foundation. On the high-profile personality front, he worked with billionaire Ron Burkle on his divorce, Paris Hilton on her jail scandal, Roy Disney on his ouster of Michael Eisner from the Walt Disney Co., and actress Halle Berry on her hit-and-run case. He helped Patricia Dunn, former chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard, clear her name after she was accused of illegal surveillance to plug media leaks. Sitrick started his career in corporate communications with American National Can Group in Chicago, where he grew up. He then moved to Wickes Cos. in San Diego, which went through bankruptcy reorganization from 1982 to 1984, providing Sitrick an opportunity to hone his crisis management skills before opening his own shop, which now employs 60. In October 2009, Resource Connection Inc., a publicly traded firm based in Irvine, bought Sitrick & Associates along with Brincko Associates, a bankruptcy advisory firm, in a $43.3 million package deal. Sitrick will stay on as chief executive of Sitrick Brincko Group LLC. Sitrick met with the Business Journal at his Century City office to discuss the trajectory of his company and explain how his efforts have preserved thousand of jobs.
Question: What do you like best about your job?
Answer: I love righting injustice as we helped to do with Patty Dunn, as we helped to do with Interstate Bakeries in Irving, Texas. The lender wouldn’t provide financing and 23,000 jobs were at stake. We got the unions involved. They contacted Sen. Charles Schumer and then-Sen. Hilary Clinton. The senators wrote the chairman of the finance company demanding an explanation. Magically, Interstate Bakeries got the loan. We have hundreds of stories like that. The actions we took encouraged the lender – “encouraged” in quotes – to provide financing and ensured the continuation of 23,000 jobs.
Q: Give an example of what function you perform for clients.
A: We had a call for damage control on a ski resort liquidation on a Friday afternoon. I said, “Why are you liquidating? Are you losing money?” “No.” “Then why?” He said his bank was sold to an out-of-state bank and they pulled the line of credit. I said, “You don’t have to close that ski resort.”
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