Morgan Stanley Furniture Dump: The Sequel

Last week, Ken Bernhard was Paul Revere.

The Cohen & Wolf lawyer — a former state representative, assistant minority leader and Westport town attorney — was appalled that Morgan Stanley was tossing at least $100,000 worth of office furniture into a wood chipper, in preparation of a move from 320 Post Road West to new digs on Post Road East.

Last Friday, a contractor tossed Morgan Stanley furniture into a wood chipper.

Bernhard contacted Jeff Wieser, CEO of Homes With Hope. The Westport housing non-profit managed to save “1/20” of the cherry desks, tables, chairs, sofas, bookcases, credenzas and other perfectly good goods.

This week, Bernhard was Kojak.

He spent the past few days trying to get answers from Morgan Stanley: about why they had thrown away so much furniture, and whether there was any truth to the rumor that a similar dump — though 4 times as large — is planned for this Friday, at the financial firm’s Nyala Farm site.

Bernhard said he hoped that Morgan Stanley would follow its own policy of “relocating” unneeded furniture “within other MS facilities,” then reselling or donating the rest to a third parties. He urged the company to work with Westport, other local communities and non-profits, allowing access to Nyala Farms for inspection and perhaps recycling of what the firm is about to discard. He even offered himself as a facilitator to help make it happen.

A small portion of the furniture Morgan Stanley threw away …

Bernhard was not pleased with the hemming, hawing and eventual silence from corporate headquarters.

Yesterday, he sent another email. He noted that a hospice facility in Stamford said it needs office furniture. They were happy to send a truck to pick it up.

Bernhard added:

In all honesty, I don’t understand MS’s perceived intransigence in not giving away some of what the company plans to destroy. In some communities the waste of valuable, useful assets might go unnoticed or overlooked, but Westport citizens aspire to do better than that. We have a strong, vibrant recycling program, a Green Task force, and municipal goals to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. Morgan Stanley is a part of our community.

Again, I offer my services to act as facilitator in identifying not-for-profits or others that might benefit from the reuse of furniture that will otherwise be wasted.

So far, he has not heard back.

Meanwhile, the clock ticks toward Friday.

And whatever happens at Nyala Farm — the sprawling office complex tucked away in the rolling hills off the Sherwood Island Connector — will be a lot less visible than it was on Post Road West.

… and another.

14 responses to “Morgan Stanley Furniture Dump: The Sequel

  1. Rozanne Gates

    Good for you, Ken.

  2. Philip M. Perlah

    Morgan Stanley clients should be asking their account representatives about the questions Ken is asking and why he’s not getting any response, let alone a positive response.

  3. Joyce Bottone

    What harm would come from donating the unused furniture. Shame on Morgan Stanley. Thanks to Mr. Bernhard for taking notice and trying to make a difference.

  4. Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

    Ken,
    Call the owner of the building BLT / Carl Kuehner III at 203-846-1900
    I’m sure he would be happy to help you
    Best,
    Gerald F. Romano, Jr.

  5. I dislike the financial industry’s wasteful ways as much as the next guy, but how is this any different (or even as bad) as the penchant of so many of our townspeople to tear down a perfectly good house, creating tons and tons of waste, so they can erect something more currently fashionable?

  6. Also, the picture does not show a wood chipper of the type infamously used by Pan Am Capt. Richard Crafts; it is a regular compacting garbage truck.

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I’ve done nothing but work for big companies. When they go through a change like this, for right or for wrong, re-purposing old furniture is usually the last thing on their mind. If they’re smart, they’ll find a business that buys and sells used office furniture. We have several here in Cincinnati and they clean up. So if they get rid of $100K worth of furniture, which is not much for a big company, probably more like $250K for 10 cents on the dollar, they could donate $10-$25K which would be welcomed by ANY charity and at the same time keeping the debris out of the landfill. In fact, I challenge any CFO to flush that kind of money down a wood chipper. This is where $400 toilet seats come from.

  8. David J. Loffredo

    I’m surprised none of the local Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Advisors hasn’t stepped up and taken some action. Those guys (and gals) all live in the community and rely on their wealthy neighbors for investments so they can pump them for fees, until ultimately they’re replaced by robo advisors.

    Maybe Morgan Stanley is pulling out of Fairfield County?

  9. Please note that Furniture Sharehouse in Westchester county takes furniture and donates it. If Morgan Stanley does it, other large firms do it. How to get the word out to these companies?

  10. This is a missed self serving opportunity for MS to look like good guys — where are their PR people? Dumb business move.

  11. Elizabeth Thibault

    I guess what I’m missing is why MS is dithering or even ignoring this issue, when this could be a PR layup for them, at no additional cost. Ken is so gracious in his offer to facilitate the donation, and the charities are willing to send their own movers, there’s literally no “skin” for MS to be worries about. They would be saving the dumping fees, even. Perplexing, no?

  12. Karl Taylor

    I sent copies of your article plus one from Westport.Now to my broker at Morgan Stanley.. She was appalled. Must be embarrassing to see this from your company, knowing that this furniture is valuable to someone who doesn’t have the funds; non-profit or not…

  13. Alan Phillips

    Waste of corporate assets.The furniture looked in good shape.
    They could have sold it to SWC Office Furniture Outlet in Stamford.
    A win.. win.. win… They would have made $$$ instead of spending money to destroy and cart it away. Not too smart. someone should be fired! 🙂

  14. Ellen Lautenberg

    Dan – thanks for shining a light on this. And thanks to Ken Bernhard for recognizing the issue and trying hard to get Morgan Stanley do the right thing. Hopefully the furniture will end up where it is needed – ridiculous that this even occurred.