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Does Someone Have to Go: DFX Decides


Last week on Does Someone Have to Go, we met the employees of DFX. The 30-year-old fitness equipment company has been having a hard time since founder Tom sold the company to his daughter Farren. Why? Mostly because Tom stayed on, micromanaging every employee with the help of surveillance cameras.

Fed up with the internal struggles, Farren brought reality show cameras into the office and gave her employees the power to decide who stays and who goes. 

After much debate, three employees were singled out for possible termination; outside sales rep Bryan, executive assistant Paige, and Tom himself.

Cliffhanger over, it’s time to see how this all panned out.

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Loud and lowbrow Bryan doesn’t understand how he can still be on the bottom after agreeing to stop the behaviors that were pointed out last week. But he follows this up with a philosophical quote from Michael Jackson, “you want to make a change in the world, look at the man in the mirror.” Life is like a mirror he says, so when you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you. At least he’s taking some responsibility for his own actions.


Tom takes a simpler approach. The company can’t run without him, so he can’t be fired. Sales rep Cameron is one of the few with the guts to tell him he’s wrong. In a calm and reasonable manner, he tells Tom that he has a bad habit of being dismissive with the staff. He also points out that Farren is the CEO, so it’s time he stepped down and let his daughter run the company. Tom doesn’t agree. He accuses Cameron of being brain washed by the young assistants which just proves that he can’t listen to reason.

Paige thinks she can dodge the bullet by pointing out that the troubles started long before she arrived. But as Tony points out, if Tom gets fired, he won’t need an assistant, so Paige would go, too

When it comes time to plead their cases, Bryan tries to prove his worth with a map showing his sales territory, but then he starts talking about Tijuana. When he gets it together he shows slides that demonstrate how he got the product placed in high profile spots. Good job. Then he follows that with a photo of his son. That’s why I’m here, he says, it’s all for my son. Ooh, low emotional blow.

Paige is up next. She starts by saying she’s young so she has plenty of time to learn but then blames Tom for making her look bad. To prove her worth, she points out that it was her work on the web site that lifted one of their products to the number one spot on Google. Sales rep Lisa is quick to point out that Paige had a lot of help with the site. Since she doesn’t have a kid, Paige pulls out her student loans as her reason for needing the job. Sorry, no sympathy points there.

Tom is up last. He reminds everyone that he built the company from scratch. Then he mentions working with family, and how tough that can be, but he considers them all family. He surprises everyone with with a genuine and humble apology for being too hard on the staff. He did it out of love for the company. Either he’s an amazing actor or he’s really ready to change. Wonder if the cameras are coming down?

Time to ask the question, “does someone have to go?”

Bryan is allowed to stay on a 90-day probation.  Someone will be calling his stores to check up on his behavior and he has to clean up his act when he’s in the office. He’s grateful and says he’ll make every effort to improve.

Executive assistant Paige is terminated due to her lack of respect for the other workers.

Tom is allowed to stay on, but only if he takes a 30-day “reboot” break from the company. When he returns, he has to start acting like a worker, not a boss. That means running all decisions by Farren. No more micromanaging.

In a surprising twist, Tom refuses the offer. He says he knows he won’t be able to change. He’d rather step down completely and retire. It’s not the answer the employees expected, they’re dumbstruck but with every passing minute, Tom is more resolute. He realizes that this was long over due and that Farren can only take the company to the next level if he gets out of the way. A bold move, but probably for the best.

Three months later, the surveillance cameras are gone and profits are up 10% thanks to happy employees. Bryan “the bull in the china cabinet” is 80% better. Paige has a new job and is doing well.  And Tom; he’s proud and impressed by what is daughter accomplished. Looks like the reality show visit was a good thing for DFX.


What Do You Think?

Would you ever allow your employees to make hiring and firing decisions just to show them how tough it really is? Let us know in the comments below.

More From Payscale

Does Someone Have to Go: Employees Vote with Their Hearts Not Their Heads

What to Do When You’ve Made Someone Angry at Work

Can They Fire Me For That?

Photo credit: Chris Tomko/FOX

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ShannonBob Dilligas Recent comment authors
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To answer your question, no, but I was wondering why Lisa’s(sales rep) salary wasn’t revealed on the show? I know I didn’t just miss it, because I watched it again. Thanks.

Bob Dilligas
Bob Dilligas

Never, you could end up with a bigger mess, and a bigger problem to solve.  They seemed to base the decisions on personalities, favor’s, and family ties.

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