The ANACS story, by grader Mike Ellis

EagleEyeEagleEye Posts: 7,621 ✭✭✭✭✭
Mike Ellis, asked me to submit this synopsis and explanation of the turnover at ANACS.


While many questions on what transpired and what the new, new ANACS intends to do remain, I now provide you with the facts as I know them. I am Mike Ellis, former authenticator, attributor and grader at ANACS. The bulk of my time was spent authenticating, attributing and grading early U. S. type coinage, not modern errors and varieties as many seem to think.

I thought I was on vacation. I returned home from visiting my brother for Christmas in the wee morning hours on the 26th. Shortly after waking I received a call from Tim Hargis, former Senior Numismatist and an exceptional numismatist at that. He informed me that many "developments" had taken place at work and it would be best if I came in and was told face-to-face of the changes.

I arrived at what used to be ANACS Austin at around 11:30 a.m. As soon as I walked in I knew something was terribly wrong. Everyone was packing, including a crew for hire with a Mayflower truck! Tim Hargis was already gone. Several ex-employees told me what was up and then I got my chance to meet with James Taylor who had been a good friend of mine for years. This is what he told me: "I have formed a new corporation, Driving Force, LLC. I have purchased ANACS and we have to be in a suburb of Denver, ready to do business by January 2nd. ANACS will fall under the umbrella of Driving Force and we will continue to do business as ANACS. (He then told me some of their plans and the direction they were heading but that is inconsequential and you will see much more of those plans come to light in the coming months.) I tried to purchase ICG. The deal fell through. I have left ICG and so have most most of the people at ICG at greatly reduced salaries until we get up and running. When the deal to buy ICG fell through I called Mary Counts to inquire if Anderson Press would be interested in selling ANACS. Mary said that they had not thought about it but would run it by the board. Well, our buy/sell figures were workable and I told my lawyers to get the deal done in four weeks. (This all started in early November.) They told me it could not be done and they were right. It took six weeks. We want you but you have to do what you have to do because until we know if our plans work out we can't hire you."

That was that. I can say that I see the new, new ANACS as more closely akin to what ICG was doing than what ANACS has always done. I was very proud of ANACS because I know it was the grading service providing the most unbiased opinions on coins and the experienced graders were true, interested numismatists - pure and simple.

Anderson Press issued a press release at about 4:30 on Thursday the 27th stating they had sold 100% of ANACS to James Taylor of Driving Force, LLC as of December 21st.

So that's how things went down and where it all stands now. I hope I was able to shed some useful light on the situation.

Respectfully submitted,
Mike Ellis

Edited at Mike's request to remove employee status info.
Rick Snow, Eagle Eye Rare Coins, Inc.Check out my new web site:
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Comments

  • jhdflajhdfla Posts: 3,070 ✭✭✭
    Wow. Thanks for posting this Rick.

    John
  • ziggy29ziggy29 Posts: 18,688 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for sharing, Rick.

    I embrace and understand business and capitalism and all that, but stories like this are a reminder that they are not without significant human casualties from time to time even as they do build overall wealth along the way.

    I thought it particularly telling, if Mr. Ellis' accounts are accurate, that they keep the most junior (read: lowest salary) numismatists while letting the senior staff go. That reminds me of what Circuit City did a few months ago and it speaks volumes about motive.
  • jdillanejdillane Posts: 2,338 ✭✭✭
    Perhaps the senior folks from (the old) ANACS can explore acquisition of PCI?
  • seanqseanq Posts: 7,636 ✭✭✭✭
    So if I'm reading this right, JT tried to take over ICG, and when that failed he bought the ANACS brand name, and will now staff it primarily with people he is spiriting away from ICG.

    Anyone want to bet he winds up killing both ICG and ANACS in the proess?


    Sean Reynolds
    Incomplete planchets wanted, especially Lincoln Cents & type coins.

    "Keep in mind that most of what passes as numismatic information is no more than tested opinion at best, and marketing blather at worst. However, I try to choose my words carefully, since I know that you guys are always watching." - Joe O'Connor
  • TootawlTootawl Posts: 6,292 ✭✭✭
    It's still a crappy way of treating employees.
    PCGS Currency: HOF 2013, Best Low Ball Set 2009-2014, 2016, 2018. Appreciation Award 2015, Best Showcase 2018, Numerous others...
    Thanks to everyone who donated to the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer's!
  • LongacreLongacre Posts: 16,704 ✭✭✭
    I feel badly about the people who lost their jobs, and perhaps the personnel issues could have been handled better. However, we live in a society with employment at will for the most part, and the new owner of ANACS is taking the company in a different direction. I know of several people who have unfortunately lost their jobs around this year's holiday season, and it is a difficult time. However, no one should assume that "The Company" will take care of them forever.
    Always took candy from strangers
    Didn't wanna get me no trade
    Never want to be like papa
    Working for the boss every night and day
    --"Happy", by the Rolling Stones (1972)
  • ziggy29ziggy29 Posts: 18,688 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Anyone want to bet he winds up killing both ICG and ANACS in the proess? >>

    This is my fear, too. I have a feeling between eBay policies and James Taylor, there will be only two TPGs before long.
  • 291fifth291fifth Posts: 17,621 ✭✭✭✭✭
    As I have said in previous posts...never trust management.

    An employee should only be as loyal as his wallet tells him to be.
    All glory is fleeting.
  • Mike Ellis is a great guy, and will surely land back on his feet pretty soon, but who knows where else?
  • LongacreLongacre Posts: 16,704 ✭✭✭


    << <i>As I have said in previous posts...never trust management.

    An employee should only be as loyal as his wallet tells him to be. >>




    I think that is good advice to the worker-bees of the world.
    Always took candy from strangers
    Didn't wanna get me no trade
    Never want to be like papa
    Working for the boss every night and day
    --"Happy", by the Rolling Stones (1972)


  • << <i>So if I'm reading this right, JT tried to take over ICG, and when that failed he bought the ANACS brand name, and will now staff it primarily with people he is spiriting away from ICG.

    Anyone want to bet he winds up killing both ICG and ANACS in the proess?


    Sean Reynolds >>



    That's exactly what occurred to me.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    Apropos of the coin posse/aka caca: "The longer he spoke of his honor, the tighter I held to my purse."

    image
  • Holy Crap. as I read ICG is worse off than they were with him? Or ICG will be worse off now because they didn't sell to MR Taylor.

    Mr Keifer are you loading up your truck and moving to Beverly Hills Colorado?
    Locked!!!!
  • BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 29,573 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>So if I'm reading this right, JT tried to take over ICG, and when that failed he bought the ANACS brand name, and will now staff it primarily with people he is spiriting away from ICG.

    Anyone want to bet he winds up killing both ICG and ANACS in the proess?


    Sean Reynolds >>



    Who really cares??
  • What a coincidence...I hear ACG is moving to Denver also...........
  • RealoneRealone Posts: 17,990 ✭✭✭✭
    So a question remains, what makes Mr Taylor so qualified, what is his resume, what has he REALLY done in numismatics. You see all I hear are accolades and very few actual accomplishments. Once I hear this I can better make an assessment of ANACS future until then all I see is a guy who has been touted at ICG and ANACS a couple of times and nothing more, realize I am 2 years into collecting so I do not have the history that many have.
    'Never give in, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy'.
    FYI: I only collect naturally toned coins with original surfaces and nothing else, trust me nothing else!
    OK with one exception!
  • ziggy29ziggy29 Posts: 18,688 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Who really cares?? >>

    Anyone who doesn't think monopolies or near-monopolies are good for consumers of their services.

    When there's almost no one left standing and the remaining players start jacking up fees, you might care.
  • I have always been a fan of ANACS and have never had a problem with their grading. After reading this I am not happy and will likely not sue their services unless they can somehow prove to me they can perform as they have in the past. I hate to see companies treat their valued employees like that.
  • anablepanablep Posts: 4,573 ✭✭✭
    I'm sure PCGS and NGC look at developments like this with some degree of optimism if only for the fact that 2 potential (albeit lower tier) competitors are losing a foothold on the TPG industry. In the end, its more customers for them if ANACS & ICG fall by the wayside. Where else do we turn? SEGS?
    Always looking for attractive rim toned Morgans in PCGS or (older) ANA/ANACS holders!

    "Bongo hurtles along the rain soaked highway of life on underinflated bald retread tires."
  • Only question I have, is..............
    Where's Cammie going to be working?

    Ray
  • maybe they'll go back to the old small holders. I may be in the minority, but I always liked them.
  • DRUNNERDRUNNER Posts: 3,176 ✭✭✭✭
    Part of me sees this as revolting. I work in the education field where tenure is a bit more stable. The human component of this is tragic.

    Thanks for the posting Rick . . .

    I just can't see myself spending money with another TPG that will head down the tubes (all due respect to JT). I surely respected those old small holders and the numismatic cache they represented.

    Drunner
  • I hope this fails miserably and that Mr. Taylor loses his ass financially.image
  • BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 29,573 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i>Who really cares?? >>

    Anyone who doesn't think monopolies or near-monopolies are good for consumers of their services.

    When there's almost no one left standing and the remaining players start jacking up fees, you might care. >>



    My comment was made from the standpoint that I won't be using either service. Most folks who want their coins in certain plastic will put em there even if there are 100 4th tier slabbers.
  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 5,550 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It will be interesting to see who ends up where.
    Who will be the lead numismatists at ANACS if not Ellis, Hargis, etc. ?
    If some ICG employees move to ANACS, maybe ICG would hire Ellis and Hargis ?


    I recently visited the ICG offices on December 19. I was there to pick up some coins that ICG had been storing (and periodically slabbing) for me. I was told that carpeting was being replaced and that they would not be able to store my large tub of coins any more. So I went there to pick them up. By the way, I found they had 100 of my 2006 Denver Mint Centennial medals that I had forgotten about ! I also had a couple coins (one very expensive) to drop of for grading.

    While there, I asked if I could talk to James Taylor (who I've known for some time and consider a friend). I was told that "would be difficult - he is not in". But I did enjoy my visit there with Cameron Kiefer, JP Martin, and Paul DeFelice.

    On Monday the 24th in the mail I received (in record time) the two coins I had submitted in person at ICG on December 19 (both correctly graded, in my opinion).




  • ziggy29ziggy29 Posts: 18,688 ✭✭✭


    << <i>My comment was made from the standpoint that I won't be using either service. Most folks who want their coins in certain plastic will put em there even if there are 100 4th tier slabbers. >>

    You may never use them, but if the lack of competition means you pay $40 instead of $25, it's still a reason to be concerned even if you have no personal interest in their services. That's all I'm getting at.

    Fewer competitors in a space = fewer competitive pricing pressures, and that makes it easier to jack up fees when consumers have nowhere else to turn. Just look at eBay and PayPal for obvious examples of this.
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 27,028 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>Perhaps the senior folks from (the old) ANACS can explore acquisition of PCI? >>



    You talkin' 'bout me?
    LOL
    TD, Senior Authenticator ANACS, 1980-1984 (B.C.)
    ... --- .-.. --- -. --. --..-- .- -. -.. - .... .- -. -.- ... ..-. --- .-. .- .-.. .-.. - .... . ..-. .. ... .... ..__.
  • BarryBarry Posts: 10,338 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Anyone want to bet he winds up killing both ICG and ANACS in the proess? >>



    I think you're right. To me, taking ANACS in the direction of ICG is a killer right there.
    James Taylor really is the Walking Man.
  • MadMartyMadMarty Posts: 17,439 ✭✭✭


    << <i><< Perhaps the senior folks from (the old) ANACS can explore acquisition of PCI? >>



    You talkin' 'bout me?
    LOL
    TD, Senior Authenticator ANACS, 1980-1984 (B.C.) >>



    Shouldn't that be B.S (Before Slabs)
    It is not exactly cheating, I prefer to consider it creative problem solving!!!

  • 19Lyds19Lyds Posts: 26,391 ✭✭✭
    Big Business or not, what was done was really unethical from an employer's standpoint!

    I just do not understand why the company HAD to move from Austin, Texas to Colorado and why those folks had to lose their jobs?

    Oh wait, yes I do, a certain someone's "family" is in Colorado! What better motivation than to be with ones own family? It doesn't really matter that the motivation tramples on the jobs of others and their "families", only that one can now have their very own "grading service" and be with "their" family!

    Gimme a break! This appears to be a crappy, selfish act, especially at the Holiday time! The manner in which this was carried out speaks volume's for the character of the individual or individuals (big business or not) that orchestrated it.

    To put it into perspective, it was once related to me that losing one's job has the same affect on the psyche as death. This is a life changing event for the one's that will not benefit from it.

    Best of luck JT! I'm thinking you're really going to need it!

    The light at the end of the tunnel is that PCGS is stepping into the variety attribution arena.
    Once they get going full bore, ANACS will have to start doing some very magical and wonderful things.......................

    just to stay in business.
    I decided to change calling the bathroom the John and renamed it the Jim. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.



    The name is LEE!
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 27,028 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>

    << <i><< Perhaps the senior folks from (the old) ANACS can explore acquisition of PCI? >>



    You talkin' 'bout me?
    LOL
    TD, Senior Authenticator ANACS, 1980-1984 (B.C.) >>



    Shouldn't that be B.S (Before Slabs) >>



    Before Chicago.
    ... --- .-.. --- -. --. --..-- .- -. -.. - .... .- -. -.- ... ..-. --- .-. .- .-.. .-.. - .... . ..-. .. ... .... ..__.
  • Sounds like ICG and ANACS were bleeding money. If so, James is taking a big risk here.

    Getting fired this time of year is a major bummer, but I wonder how much of a shock it was to Mike and the other employees. It's hard to hide big losses from employees. Did everyone really think that business was good? There must have been signs that something needed to change.

    There's always work for professionals like Mike. Where one door closes, another opens. Working at an unprofitable company isn't fun, so I bet the transition for the terminated employees won't be as bad as everyone thinks. We'll see where everyone lands and how it works out.
  • PhillyJoePhillyJoe Posts: 2,605 ✭✭✭
    This may answer the age old question, "can you kill two birds with one stone?" theory.

    Of the many troublesome parts of this scenerio is the "in your face" attitude shown by Mr. Taylor.
    Once ICG declined to sell to him, was it necessary to buy another company just to move it to the same town and down the street from ICG? I know he's from the area, but come on......

    Joe
    The Philadelphia Mint: making coins since 1792. We make money by making money. Now in our 225th year thanks to no competition. image
  • MrEurekaMrEureka Posts: 21,602 ✭✭✭✭✭
    So a question remains, what makes Mr Taylor so qualified, what is his resume, what has he REALLY done in numismatics.

    He's qualified to do the deal because he has the money and the stones. Simple as that.

    As for the alleged mistreatment of employees, I can see why the deal needed to be kept confidential until it was a "done deal", and I'm confident that the terms of their employment and/or consulting contracts will be honored.
    Andy Lustig

    Doggedly collecting coins of the Central American Republic.

    Visit the Society of US Pattern Collectors at USPatterns.com.
  • RYKRYK Posts: 35,347 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I may be in the minority, but I feel that the ANACS franchise was nearly dead already and the loss of jobs inevitable. ANACS started dying as soon as they stopped giving grade opinions at shows. This was one thing they did that generated a lot of goodwill and really differentiated them from their competitors. Just my opinion, of course, but as a collector, unless there is a major, unexpected upheaval, this ANACS news is just meaningless gossip. I am sorry for the folks that lost their jobs, but those I knew personally were high quality people who deserve to work for a better company anyway.

    "There are no called strikes in coin collecting."--Henry David Thoreau RYK


  • << <i>I feel badly about the people who lost their jobs, and perhaps the personnel issues could have been handled better. However, we live in a society with employment at will for the most part, and the new owner of ANACS is taking the company in a different direction. I know of several people who have unfortunately lost their jobs around this year's holiday season, and it is a difficult time. However, no one should assume that "The Company" will take care of them forever. >>



    Well stated Longacre.

    Another sad day for an American Business. We had all been witness to the highest level executives salaries ballooning with golden parachutes and ridiculous stock option packages and they cast out the employees and their families like stinky garbage. Some will say it’s progress or the “new” American way of doing business. IT’S NOT. It’s just ageless, timeless greed at it’s ugliest. True American Business Empires are not built on the backs of employees but BY employees. And yada yada yada. Same old story-new name.
    OLDER IS BETTER
  • 19Lyds19Lyds Posts: 26,391 ✭✭✭


    << <i>I may be in the minority, but I feel that the ANACS franchise was nearly dead already and the loss of jobs inevitable. >>



    That doesn't make it right or ethical. Had the employees had an actual hand in the company, perhaps you would be correct but from some of whats been posted here, that does not seem to be the case as many were as surprised to find that they no longer had jobs as this forum was to hear of it!

    I simply do not see this as a "good" thing regardless of how it is rationalized.
    I decided to change calling the bathroom the John and renamed it the Jim. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.



    The name is LEE!
  • farthingfarthing Posts: 3,335 ✭✭✭
    I hate to say it but laying off employees around the holidays is not that unusual anymore. Businesses view it as a way to put the "bad news" into the closing year, enabling the new year to start with a rosier outlook to the stock holders.

    The company I work for laid off hundreds of employees within the last 2 weeks, with hundreds still to feel the axe in the next 2 weeks (the legal dept. screwed up some of the paperwork). A good percentage of these folks have 20+ years with the company. This has happened here every year since the late 90's. image
    R.I.P. Wayne, Brad
    Collecting:
    Conder tokens
    19th & 20th Century coins from Great Britain and the Realm
  • MrEurekaMrEureka Posts: 21,602 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I can see it now...

    Flashback to October 2007...

    "Ladies and gentlemen, I've convened this meeting of ANACS employees to let you know that we're considering selling the company, and that it could happen before yearend. If the sale takes place, it's possible that the new owner might let some of you go. It's also possible that he would move the company to a land far, far away. What I'm asking you to do about this is...nothing. Please don't start looking for a new job. Please don't quit. Please don't mention this to anyone. In fact, I want you to behave as if we never had this discussion. Just keep on working and be happy. Just don't be surprised if you have a problem right around Christmas. Thanks for your time, and have a nice day. Dismissed."
    Andy Lustig

    Doggedly collecting coins of the Central American Republic.

    Visit the Society of US Pattern Collectors at USPatterns.com.
  • LongacreLongacre Posts: 16,704 ✭✭✭
    I've been involved in sales of businesses where one of the terms of the sale is that the buyer has to keep everyone on board for one year after the sale. Of course, the employees don't know this, but at least there isn't a mass firing immediately after the closing. The other "sad" thing is that the corporate executives at the acquired company almost always cut a side deal with the buyer which provides sweet retention incentives, bonuses, immediate vesting of stock options which would have expired with a change of control, etc., etc., again without the general worker bees knowing about it.
    Always took candy from strangers
    Didn't wanna get me no trade
    Never want to be like papa
    Working for the boss every night and day
    --"Happy", by the Rolling Stones (1972)
  • RussRuss Posts: 50,068 ✭✭


    << <i>I have left ICG and so have most most of the people at ICG at greatly reduced salaries until we get up and running. >>



    Fascinating.

    Russ, NCNE

  • DMWJRDMWJR Posts: 5,851 ✭✭✭✭
    I wish some of you moaners and groaners could sit in the employer's chair for once and see what it's like. Generally, businesses that are doing well do not just pull up stakes with no notice and move across the country. I'm sure there were some very difficult issues and decisions present that the employees were not burdened with, while the owners/senior management had many a sleepless night.
    Doug
    The Ultimate Flying Eagles
    https://www.pcgs.com/setregistry/showcase/3203
  • So, looks worse for ICG.


  • << <i>I wish some of you moaners and groaners could sit in the employer's chair for once and see what it's like. Generally, businesses that are doing well do not just pull up stakes with no notice and move across the country. I'm sure there were some very difficult issues and decisions present that the employees were not burdened with, while the owners/senior management had many a sleepless night. >>



    So, then the best move would be to screw your employees. Quit making excuses for a miserable decision. The man is said to be very moral. I can clearly see his morals.
  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 5,550 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>So, looks worse for ICG. >>



    It depends - have the key people left ICG ?
    As of December 19, when I visited the ICG offices, Cameron Kiefer, JP Martin, and Paul DeFelice were still working there.
    And, as of today, the ICG web page still lists them, along with Michael Fahey, Walt Armitage, Larry Wilson, and Sue Berg as ICG graders.

    So who will be the graders at ANACS ?
  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 5,550 ✭✭✭✭✭


    << <i>I hope this fails miserably and that Mr. Taylor loses his ass financially.image >>



    It sounds like you are hoping that all the ICG and (remaining) ANACS employees lose their jobs as well ??
  • relicsncoinsrelicsncoins Posts: 6,842 ✭✭✭
    Maybe he is a mole for one of the big two........"Go in and put one of them on the canvass, and then when finished repeat it for the other. After that, we'll deal with our major competitor." Of course I am kidding and have no proof what-so-ever.

    JJ
    Currently have a bunch of different Anacs certificate type coins, if you have any and are willing to sell, please PM me.

    image
    Current Ebay auctions
  • ziggy29ziggy29 Posts: 18,688 ✭✭✭


    << <i>I wish some of you moaners and groaners could sit in the employer's chair for once and see what it's like. Generally, businesses that are doing well do not just pull up stakes with no notice and move across the country. I'm sure there were some very difficult issues and decisions present that the employees were not burdened with, while the owners/senior management had many a sleepless night. >>

    In the business world there are executives who are so consumed with the bottom line that no amount of human carnage is too high a price to pay for even one more cent per share in the next quarterly earnings report.

    There are also executives who are so empathic with their employees that they refuse to make needed "tough" business decisions because of the impact it has on their workers...even to the point of allowing the business to fail (and thus causing *all* workers to ultimately lose their jobs). These may be good people but not good business leaders.

    The best executives can find a happy medium, IMO -- first and foremost guiding the business and making tough decisions when they have to, but also recognizing that up to some point, not screwing your workers and earning their trust *is* good business. The best executives also recognize that it's not worth engineering a good quarter by screwing the company's longer-term future.

    What does that have to do with JT and the ANACS debacle? Maybe not much and maybe a lot. Just consider these to be general brain-droppings. It's easy for the peasants to grab pitchforks and quote Marx, and it's also easy to justify any and all heartless business moves that are perceived as good for the bottom line. It's sometimes harder to see both sides.



  • << <i>

    << <i>I hope this fails miserably and that Mr. Taylor loses his ass financially.image >>



    It sounds like you are hoping that all the ICG and (remaining) ANACS employees lose their jobs as well ?? >>



    Not what I said. Maybe it's you that wishes the employees bad, but they should see the bad that will be coming just because of the facts surrounding this fiasco. Why would someone want to go to work for a scumbag that already has a reputation for screwing over employees??
  • RussRuss Posts: 50,068 ✭✭
    What happened to the employees sucks, but those blaming James Taylor are way off base. It is up to the business seller to make provisions for the staff, NOT the buyer.

    Russ, NCNE
  • ElcontadorElcontador Posts: 6,639 ✭✭✭✭
    Missing from these comments is the fact that whomever you are, you need to work in an environment where your skill set is appreciated and valued. I went to work for myself, because after eight years, I did not feel this was the case when I worked for others; I think professionally, it was the best move I've ever made.

    Each and every one of us must do our best to excel at what we do workwise. If this is not the case, then we must improve our existing skills or find an area at which we excel. If you are merely just part of a company's overhead, either your skill set is not being properly valued, or your performance is just so-so. I learned a long time ago that no one owes me anything in this world, other than to be candid with me.

    It's not just worker-bees who get canned. You might ask Stan O'Neal, who used to be El Jefe at Merrill Lynch about this, or look at recent articles re Citibank. A number of high profile Fortune 500 types have been given the ax for underperforming this year.
    "Vou invadir o Nordeste,
    "Seu cabra da peste,
    "Sou Mangueira......."
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