George Cloutier is the ultimate contrarian. This multi-millionaire turnaround wizard excels at punching holes through the conventional wisdom that holds back small businesses, and getting their owners to focus on the only things that count: profits, profits, profits.
“I only believe in making profits and making money,” says the author. “Profits aren’t everything—they are the only thing!”
He should know. He brings more than 30 years of experience to his roles as founder and chairman of AMS – a consulting service that’s widely considered to be the McKinsey of small business. Of course, consultant is a term Cloutier despises. His approach is far more hands on than that of traditional consultants. Instead of charging a premium for a report, he rolls up his sleeves and runs the business, showing his clients how to build the bottom line by doing just that.
The results of his take no prisoners approach speak for themselves. Over the past two decades, Cloutier has forged more than 6,000 client relationships in 400 industries, realizing over $1 billion in savings for his clients, 40% of which are family-owned businesses. He’s brought more than 1,000 businesses from the brink of bankruptcy to healthy profits.
Using just $42,000 in seed capital, he built his own business, American Management Services, into a 150-plus employee operation with more than $20 million in annual revenue. Founded in 1986, the one-man operation is now a national business with offices in Orlando, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.
Though a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard who holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, Cloutier’s own beginnings are strictly Main Street. The native New Englander grew up in a humble middle class home in a small town in Maine, the son of a school teacher and a civil servant. A great debater, he expected to become a lawyer, an early taste of business handling sales and marketing for the first computer dating service in 1966 would change the course of history.
Today, Cloutier is well known as the nation’s leading small business expert. Top economic and political professionals from around the world frequently solicit his advice on the issues faced by small and mid-cap companies. He has become a regular on national television programs such as Fox Business News, ABC’s 20/20, MSNBC’s Squawk Box, CNBC and Bloomberg Television. His views on the economy and the plight of mom and pop entrepreneurs are quoted throughout the Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Newsday, The Miami Herald and The Washington Times.
One of the more colorful inhabitants of “Richistan,” Robert Frank’s bestselling book, Cloutier and his fiancé Tiffany are also regulars on the society pages, and favorites on nightly news shows featuring stories on how to live large.
More importantly, Cloutier also serves as Co-Chairman of Partner America™, a unique, a public/private partnership between The United States Conference of Mayors and American Management Services dedicated to small business growth. Formed in 2000, the program is the nation’s first such small business resource initiative, providing management expertise, technical assistance, education and government procurement opportunities to help grow small businesses across the nation.
The nation’s most outspoken advocate for the 23 million small business owners (who also employ 60% of the nation’s workforce), Cloutier has been a vocal critic of this administration and it’s failure to help businesses on Main Street as it continually bails out major Wall Street banks.
Cloutier’s business expertise has also been tapped by large publicly traded companies. In 1999, he played a major role in turning around Circon Corporation during its much-publicized merger with Maxxim Medical. Cloutier served as Vice Chairman on Circon’s board of directors, and was called in to serve as interim CEO. He was enlisted to help guide the troubled Californian medical instrument manufacturer to better fiscal performance, and ultimately a successful merger with Maxxim Medical.
In recognition for his dedication to small business, Cloutier was awarded the first-ever Small Business Advocate Award by the U.S. Conference Mayors in recognition of his tireless efforts on behalf of small business owners on a local, state, and federal level. In 1999, The Minority Business Development Agency awarded Cloutier for being a critical partner in America’s economic success.
In 2000, Cloutier was appointed to the Commerce Advisory Committee on Africa, by then Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley, to provide recommendations for providing a business environment in Africa. Cloutier was the only Massachusetts business owner selected to join the 21 member committee.
Cloutier serves as a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard, teaching a class on corporate governance. His company also donated money to challenge business students and graduates to create a “Peace Corp” style organization to assist small businesses in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. As a direct result, area businesses experienced positive trends in sales and growth. Dozens of students from universities nationwide, including Harvard, Penn and Columbia were solicited for the project, which is now being emulated across the country.
He is also an active philanthropist, with donations to a multitude of charities totaling millions of dollars. Cloutier is a trustee for The Dana Farber Cancer Insitute, and is a former director of the Wellness Community in Boston. He frequently donates his time and money to a full roster of local charities, including organizations such as Achilles, which helps disabled Iraqi veterans, the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Palm Beach and Nantucket, Easter Seals, United Cerebral Palsy, The Ally Foundation, National Museum of Washington, National Museum of Women, Nantucket Hospital Endowment, AUA Education and Research and the Alzheimer’s Community WPB Charitable Organization.