Once homeless Global Authentication is hoping to pull off the comeback story of 2008 and has hired a hobby veteran to direct it.
It didn’t look good for Global Authentication last fall.
The company was evicted from its southern California offices after a disagreement with its landlord over lease terms. Reports of posted eviction notices, evidence of a hasty departure and little public communication from those in charge led to speculation that the long-time sports card and autograph authenticator was about to fold.
However, Global continued to operate while seeking a new investor with the management skills to not only keep the firm in business but turn its fortunes around. Late last week, GAI quietly announced that Ault Glazer & Co, a diversified holding company that already owned a stake in GAI had acquired a majority interest by purchasing a larger block of shares.
Bill Dully has already taken over as GAI’s Chief Executive Officer. Dully brings 22 years of sports card and memorabilia industry experience to his new job, having spent over nine years in major management roles with Upper Deck and Upper Deck Authenticated and three more years as President of Donruss Trading Cards, a stint that ended in 2006.
"I am excited about the opportunity to combine my past experience with the Global Authentication Holdings brand name, and helping build the number one grading and authenticating business in the country," Dully said.
Dully believes GAI built a strong foundation in the hobby but lacked central leadership which led to problems. "I’ve talked with a lot of people in the industry who liked what we did but they said ‘you have to learn to get out of your own way’. We weren’t operating correctly but fortunately, no real damage was done to the brand."
The 44 year-old Dully has spent much of his professional career attempting to improve corporate bottom llines. "I’ve gone into places that were $13 to 33 million in debt and within three or four years corrected the balance sheet," he said.
Global’s forced move late last year triggered an onslaught of questions from its once-loyal customers and others in the industry. Dully told Sports Collectors Daily his first priority was simply to let the collecting community know GAI was in business. The company has over 10,000 customer names on file and has employed four staff members to personally contact as many as possible.
"I have four guys each making about 120 phone calls per day," Dully said. "We also invited a lot of big players in the industry to see us and they’re coming away with a good feelling. They’re giving us work." Dully said GAI has been improving its turnaround times to get orders back to customers in a more consistent fashion.
"It’s still a great brand name and we have great people here. Mike Baker is the most elite card grader in the industry. He’s been with us for six years and has graded 48 of the top 50 trading cards of all time." Steven Rochhi and Steve Snipe round out the management team that remains employed by the San Clemente, California-based firm.
GAI disappeared from the show circuit during the latter half of 2007 but will have a presence at the upcoming Tri Star Productions show in San Francisco, attend another in White Plains, New York and set up at the Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club show in Reading, Pennyslvania.
Dully was asked how GAI can repair the damage that may have been done to its reputation in the last several months.
"One card at a time," he said. "It sounds trite but it’s really a powerful philosophy. Let me do it faster and better. If people give us a chance we think we’ll earn their trust."
Dully also hinted that consolidation may be coming to some of the more familiar companies in the sports card and memorabilia hobby with larger businesses possibly swallowing up smaller but still effective companies.
"When I started with Upper Deck there were six major trading card companies. Now there are three. You couldn’t have predicted that back then. I think it’s very possible there will be some amazing changes and alliances on the horizon."
Ault Glazer CEO James Hodgins said he believes Global now has the tools needed for profitable growth and expansion. Dully and Hodgins say GAI will expand the company’s business model on many fronts including new products and markets. Some of those announcements are expected to be released within the next month.
Ault Glazer & Co., Inc. has thirteen other companies in its porfolio and is involved in merchant banking, corporate lending, shareholder activism, real estate, healthcare, energy, consumer products & services, insurance and media.
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