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Take-Charge, Can-Do Guy Makes Horrible Decisions

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Take-Charge, Can-Do Guy Makes Horrible Decisions

BOSTON—Matthew Stuart, an enthusiastic 33-year-old junior executive at Boston Tea Market, Inc., gets things done quickly, confidently, and terribly, sources at the tea supplier said Monday.

Stuart in his office, which he calls "mission control."

"Matt is always willing to take on new responsibilities," said Nellie Jordan, Stuart's direct supervisor. "In fact, just this week he was responsible for the boneheaded move of reorganizing the 500 items in our new catalog alphabetically, instead of by product group. Really screwed it up good."

Boston Tea Market distributes high-end teas and tea-brewing accouterments to coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores. Stuart decided that an alphabetical listing would make the company's catalog easier to use and took the initiative to redesign the winter issue.

"See, if you work here you'd want to be able to go right to 'S' to find the order number for Sunshine Organic Green Tea," said Jordan, scowling as she paged through the catalog printout. "On the other hand, Matt, if you're a customer, you might wish to find it by looking at a page of green teas."

"At least he got it done before deadline," Jordan added. "I know that when I make him change it, he won't complain."

Because of his positive attitude and boundless energy, Stuart's frequent errors in judgment are generally overlooked.

"Everyone here really likes Matt," Jordan said. "You never really notice what an idiot he is until you're cleaning up his mess. He loves to roll his sleeves up, get in there, and fuck all sorts of things up."

"Matt is usually the first one here in the morning," coworker Karla Groff said. "There's always a fresh pot of nasty, weak coffee brewing when the rest of us get in."

A graduate of Boston College's Carroll School of Management, Stuart said he has always enjoyed the "game of business."

"I love to get out there on the court and take the bull by the horns," Stuart said. "I'm not afraid of hard work, never have been. Leadership is in my blood."

Stuart, who has called himself the "king of multi-tasking," has shown himself to be a highly motivated employee ever since starting with the company four years ago.

"We're a small business, so a take-charge person can really wear a lot of hats," sales manager Ronnie King said. "That means there's plenty of work for which Matt is completely unqualified, like overhauling the company database or developing new teas in the test kitchen."

"He's wonderful at getting everyone going, often in the wrong direction," King continued. "Last week, he pulled a team of stockers off the warehouse floor and set them up in a conference room in order to come up with 10 ways to streamline product unloading. At 20 employees and four hours of discussion, it cost us about 80 combined hours of labor."

Jordan admitted that she was initially impressed by Stuart's enthusiasm.

"It's great to have someone who always volunteers to spearhead a project," Jordan said. "I thought it was great how he was excited to bounce ideas around. Very bad ideas, I soon noticed."

While many of Stuart's ideas are never used, some occasionally pass as "original," due to the strength and force of his hopelessly misapplied personal energy. Promotions coordinator Jane Eckerly detailed one of Stuart's recent projects.

"[Stuart] did this thing called the Tea & Toast mailer, where we mailed prospective clients samples of our tea along with toasters and a loaf of bread," Eckerly said. "I'm guessing everyone voted for the idea pretty much to give Matt something to do."

"Not my fault," Eckerly added. "I was on vacation."

Ultimately, the mailers cost the company approximately $10,000 and resulted in only two new clients. The connection between high-quality teas and warm toast, while strong in Stuart's mind, didn't seem to translate to product-buyers at coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores. Most thought the toasters were sent by accident.

"From a distance, Matt seems to be shaking things up," Eckerly said. "He's always briskly walking through the office, on his way to an important meeting. But when he stops and tells you how he wants to market sun-dried-tomato tea, the speed-walking seems less impressive."

Despite the failure of many of his campaigns, employees at the company still perceive Stuart as an ambitious go-getter.

"I don't know Matt very well, but it seems like he's really on the ball," president Gil Schneider said. "I always notice him signed up to use the boardroom, and I get a lot of emails from him. I'll have to keep him in mind next time I need a go-to guy."

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