Lynn Tilton, Wall Street’s Last American Hero

Lynn Tilton PR

Just in the nick of time, just when Wall Street needs a hero worse than the puniest victim in an X Men sequel, along comes Lynn Tilton. Or more appropriately, up rises this Wall Street equity giant with her head held higher than Goldman Sachs’ most aloof icon, only in her case – justifiably. Lynn Tilton’s $6 billion private-equity firm, Patriarch Partners LLC buys hurting companies and relieves their pain, not by liquidating them, but by infusing them with good old fashioned business sense. Lynn Tilton is an unlikely hero, unless one considers drive and ingenuity as standards for success.

When I first listened to Lynn Tilton on video a few moments ago I would never have guessed the woman is a Wall Street success story. Let alone one who has apparently made money for herself and her investors the old fashioned way, with sound logic and business sense. The stories out of New York these days are generally about the wheelers and dealers, the predators, laying in wait for the next rule to circumvent – the next victim. After a minute or two though, looking past the somewhat unpolished conversational tones, the “you knows” and the “uhms” us college boys are taught to avoid, a keen listener hears the intellect and savvy behind the facade. Business sense has nothing to do with appearances, it is about sound principles (unless of course you run a Ponzi scheme like some).

lynn tiltonThe list of Tilton’s “rescues” from the jaws of bankruptcy are as long as my arm. Her private equity company has grabbed up companies like; Rand McNally, Totes Isotoner, Ansaldo Sistemi Industriale, MD Helicopters, and perhaps soon our old friend Polaroid. Unlike her contemporaries however, Tifton rebuilds these companies and flips them into profitable businesses again. Sounds like good old fashioned American industrialism doesn’t it. Well this is my sense of this interesting woman.

One of Tilton’s companies, Stila Cosmetics is all in the news this shopping season mainly because of Lynn’s leadership, but also out or her’s and the company’s “feel” for what companies are capable of and what people want. Case in point – The Stila 4.0 (below). Okay, rescuing dieing industries is one thing, turning a profit on Wall Street another, but a makeup case that integrates with your iPhone? You better believe it. In a wired world, what could be more relevant than a pretty woman doing her nails and putting on lipstick with her iPhone hard wired into Stila Cosmetics Central?

The Stila 4.0 iPhone Media Cosmetic Player Lynn Tilton

The Stila 4.0 iPhone Media Cosmetic Player

The new Stila 4.0 is a makeup case, slash docking station, slash media player all rolled into one. At first I laughed and wondered; “OMG, there will be even less room in the SUV now, ” but at a second glance and a read – it made sense. Maybe the coolest feature being the way users can get and view data and content about all things makeup – consistency to application and etc. Hell, the sucker is actually cheap too.

Load makeup, iPhone, and your out and about all day (or all week if you are resourceful). The ladies even have their own makeup classes (like the class above) via their own beauty channel – Stila Beauty Tube. Once you look at this product, and see the wisdom of it, maybe you will get an idea how this woman built her little empire of success stories. Even more interestingly, in a world controlled by the most cut throat, make dominant, rattlesnakes on the planet.

Lots of smart move must have been made to do things on the level is my first thought. Any way, regardless of whether or not the Stila 4.0 is a boom (which I think it already is) or a flop, one has the admire the ingenuity it took to chance it. Hey, that is what the American dream was all about any way. Or was it short selling and scamming? Nah, great stuff Lynn, keep creating jobs.


  1. Jake says

    Andre – Your observations are way off:

    – The Hughes OH-6 won the first round of the LOH competition in the 1960s, not the 1970s. (The subsequent deselection of the OH-6 in favor of the OH-58 was driven as much by politics and the influence of Bell’s congressional champions as by insufficient production rates.)
    – The MD500 did not stem from the deselection of the OH-6, it was always planned as a parallel product by Hughes and was first civil certified in 1966, one year before the LOH competition was reopened.
    – It is untrue to say that the MD500 had ‘cornered’ the LE market prior to 1999. While the 500 was a popular surveillance and SWAT platform for some forces, it was simply too small for many LE missions, leading to the LongRanger, 407 and AStar being preferred by the majority of agencies.
    – Your claim that “Word seems to be getting around that this is a stable company that’s been turned around” is completely out of step with the current market perception of MDHI, which has seen a continuing exodus of execs and which also saw its ranking in this year’s AIN product support survey plummet from second place to fifth and last.

  2. Andre Leonard says

    Your observations of Lynn Tilton, are very accurate. Her beauty may re-direct or detract from the awesome job she has done in rescuing distressed companies.

    I have watched her turn around the very same companies and am duly impressed. What she has done in turning around MD Helicopters is by far a milestone achievement.

    The Dutch company that she bought it from had just about ruined an incredible world class helicopter that had won the initial round of Light Helicopter competition in the 70’s, the Army then could not get enough of these fast enough, resulting in the world famous MD (formerly) Hughes 500 series. So bad had RDM holding performed with this 500 model series that spare parts were not even being manufactured. The biggest customer law enforcement began to seek out other helicopter suppliers.

    Enter Lynn Tilton, who did a top to bottom transformation of the parts manufacturing and executive staff, now once again, the M.D. 500 series helicopter is beginning regain it’s old luster. Quite frankly, I’d say it’s back.

    Before RDM ran this series into the ground. The MD 500 model had just about cornered the law enforcement helicopter market. I remember when the whole fleet of both Phoenix Police and L.A. County Sheriff consisted of MD Helicopters. They were described as the police sports car in the sky.

    Lately your seeing more and more police agencies acquire MD Helicopters. Word seems to be getting around that this is a stable company that’s been turned around.

    What’s even more interesting is Lynn Tilton flys her own MD model helicopter.

    Lets face it. The lady is smart, intelligent and has class.

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