The HamdardCompany, makers of “79” brand insecticides andindustrial chemicals, had been run for many years by one man, Wajid Hussain, who was largelyresponsible for its steady growthduring the previous seventeen years. Hussainhad actually been theboss in all but title even before he had been made executive vicepresident in 1979. Since then, however, he had controlled everything in thecompany and made every important decision.The president had confined himself to handling a few old customers—who half acentury earlier had accounted for the bulk of thecompany’s sales and whose loyalty and, on one occasion, financial helphad pulled the company through the GreatDepression. By now, however, these customers accounted for only 10 percent or less ofthe company’s business—a result of the expansion since Hussainhad becomethe dominant force in the company. The president, in other words,was not much more than an assistant salesmanager except in title.The other officers of the company were all Hussain’s office boys andwere treated by him as such. The only one showing signs of independence was Abdul Hameed, the assistant controller, who had comein from the company’s public accounting firm four years earlier tohandle tax matters; but he was still very young and had had noexperience except in auditing and taxes.The chairman of the board—the last representative of the Hamdardfamily that had started the company and had originallyowned it entirely—had been worrying about the situation for quitesome time. But he consoled himself with the thought that there wasplenty of time, after all. Hussainwas a young man, barely fifty-five,and had at least another ten years to go. And there was no doubt thatthe company prospered under his reign. Also, secretly, the chairmanhad little stomach for a fight with Hussainand was even afraid thatin such a fight the other major stockholders, including various Hamdardwidows, nieces, and granddaughters, would side with Hussainagainst him. The bulk of the shares, by the way, were owned by smallshareholders outside. The shares had been fairly widely distributedwhen the company became publicly owned in 1928; and Hussaincontrolled the proxy machine.
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