Freelancer: Have Sharp Ax, Will Travel

Robert J. Glendon couldn't have been less popular when he parachuted into John Hinckley & Sons Inc. last year. Arriving less than five hours after a bankruptcy judge named him interim chief executive of the Cape Cod-based hardware chain, Glendon immediately began dissecting the company's books and grilling employees. Within days, he phoned Hinckley's president at a World Series game and gave him the boot. Then he shuttered the largest of Hinckley's four stores, laying off 25% of its workforce. Glendon admits he often looked over his shoulder as he walked alone to his car late at night because "they were ready to strangle me."

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