Sundance Channel Show Aims to Help the Little Guy



Warren Buffett has a new cartoon educating kids on basic business principles coming out. He’s also been busy with some controversial machinations at his company. But no doubt, he’d be ideal as the headliner for a new series in development for the Sundance Channel about setting companies on a new path.

After all, his Berkshire Hathaway has done very well identifying companies in sound businesses that might be struggling -- then purchasing them and reinvigorating.

Alas, it won’t be Buffett, but the producers have found a turnaround expert similarly versed in finding undervalued companies, taking a stake and then helping them adapt and grow – he’s successfully rejuvenated enterprises 150 times. Producers at won’t reveal the individual – billed as a “titan of finance,” who manages a $7 billion fund -- only to say he’s a “celebrated authority.”

No matter, the wizard will offer an extraordinary opportunity for modest-sized businesses – 20 to 300 employees, revenues from $1 million to $50 million – appearing in the show to get a hearing on Wall Street. To perhaps attract some investment. If not from his or her own pocket, then, well: “This is someone who can potentially open doors that aren’t necessary available to a small- to mid-size company,” said associate producer Alex Browne.

(Several years ago, Business Wire’s CEO contacted Buffett out of the blue and suggested he buy the company. He phoned saying “call me Warren” and soon bought the business.)

Even if there’s no sale emanating from the Sundance show, each of the six companies featured in hour-long episodes promise to receive advice from the mysterious turnaround wizard about innovation and evolution. Though, that would-be payoff is only part of the show.

The producers aim to shine a light on companies in traditional American manufacturing businesses grappling with how to innovate. An example might be a manufacturer of shingles eager to move into solar panels. (Casting has begun with interested participants invited to submit proposals online.)

Each company’s story, people and relationship to its community along with a breakdown of its challenges in adapting will be featured. The turnaround expert will visit as producers make about seven visits over a three-month period.

Since the companies are largely under the radar, there may be little to gain as far as consumer brand exposure that a show such as CBS’s “Undercover Boss” can provide.

Yet, producers hope one of the messages will be the importance of keeping American manufacturing vital as businesses head overseas.

“We’re not going to turn back the clock on everything,” said’s Browne. “A lot of it is about innovation.”

Next story loading loading..