Spring 2017 • Issue 60, page 1

Professional Profile: Robert P. Mosier

By Phelps, Kathy Bazoian*

We tell our children to stop and appreciate what’s right in front of them. Yet, somehow, Receivership News missed 59 other opportunities to stop and appreciate its fearless leader and publisher. In this 60th issue of RN, RN is delighted to profile Robert Mosier, one of the early founders of the California Receivers Forum and the greatest champions of RN. Bob is an extraordinary receiver and leader in his field. Editor-in-Chief Kathy Bazoian Phelps sat down and explored his diverse interests and experiences that make him who he is today.

Question: Where did you grow up?

Like several receivers who have been profiled in this column over the years, I too grew up on a dairy farm (in my case, rural northern Arizona – 100 milking cows and 80 acres of related crops). Like those before me, I quickly learned that farming was not for me. After my father passed away when I was age 11, my family sold the farm and moved to nearby Prescott, Arizona (population 14,000 – the big city).

Question: What did your early schooling experience in a rural environment teach you?

I soon became active in student government from about the sixth grade through high school and served as class president or student body vice president during most of these years. I was also active in plays, musicals and speech club. In high school, I was co-anchor of a morning TV show and photographer for the yearbook and school newspaper. I learned to fly while in high school and became a commercial pilot, instrument rated.

As for an important lesson – hard work and determination leads to results. Upon graduation from high school, I received the Leadership and Service keys from the National Honor Society – areas that I still emphasize in professional and community organizations.

Question: What about College?

I attended Arizona State University where I earned an undergraduate degree in business. But I spent two non-consecutive semesters enrolled in then Chapman College’s World Campus Afloat program (now called Semester at Sea) making two round-the-world trips. During my second semester, I was student body President. This led me to the American Graduate School of International Management (nickname “Thunderbird”). With a Masters’ degree in hand and refined presentation skills, I landed a job in New York City – a long way from rural Arizona.

Question: Can you reconcile this first job with the rest of your career?

Working in management at Trans World Airlines (TWA), my assignment was to turnaround an in-house credit card called the Getaway Card. The card was plagued with flat revenues at $64 million and bad debt that exceeded 15%. In one year, I grew the sales to $100 million and lowered the bad debt to 3%. This resulted in a promotion to head TWA Getaway Tours that handled tour packages in Europe and the US for 300,000 annual passengers. Here I followed an accomplished department head who was a graduate of the Cornell School of Hotel Management and a very successful department manager.

From these two experiences (being a hero by turning around the credit card vs. following in the steps of a very successful manager), I learned that it is more rewarding to follow someone who had fumbled the ball rather than someone who had just made a touchdown – this pointed me in the direction of turnarounds and later Court-appointed turnarounds.

Question: What made you decide to open your own firm, Mosier & Company, Inc.?

I had just completed a successful turnaround as President of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company in 1980 – doubling revenues to $30 million and reversing a $4 million loss to a $4 million profit. I also helped orchestrate taking the company public – my first financial homerun. I knew then that I wanted to start my own company, so I launched Mosier & Company, Inc., as a turnaround firm. My first project was Executive Jet Aviation in Columbus, Ohio.

Question: What set you on the path to become a receiver?

While doing corporate turnarounds, I worked with an L.A. investment company that funded underperforming companies. While in L.A. one day in June 1985, I called my father-in-law, a recently retired Superior Court Judge, Bruce W. Sumner. He had just been appointed to take over a failed bank trust department to recover funds for 64 pension plans. He asked for my help, and I agreed. In two years, we recovered 110% – enough to pay investors in full with interest plus our fees. I concluded that this court-appointed stuff was easy! I then met Harry Gastley, one of Orange County’s first US Trustees; that led to a lot of great Chapter 11 Trustee assignments. Thirty-two years later, I have handled about 630 State and Federal Court appointments – most are receiverships. But other appointments include Chapter 11 Trustee, Examiner, Provisional Director, President and CEO of Chapter 11 Debtors, Chief Responsible Officer, etc. While on the panel of Trustees for just over two years in the early 90s, I processed over 4,000 chapter 7 cases. But with 95% no-asset cases, the “turnaround” opportunities were limited in the Chapter 7 area.

Question: You were one of the founders of the California Receivers Forum. How did this come about?

Bob Warren (a founding member from Orange County and namesake for the Robert Warren Award for Excellence) and I were having breakfast one morning in the early 1990s, and we discussed a professional organization for receivers. At the same time, and through Edythe Bronston who represented me in an L.A. case, I learned about an L.A. group with the same objective. Edy suggested that we merge the two. This resulted in the California Receivers Forum (“CRF”). Edy and I ran the first Loyola Law School seminar for the CRF that proved to be very helpful to the Receivership Community. Loyola VII was just concluded in March of this year.

Question: And what about the Receivership News (“RN”)?

Peter Davidson started RN and published 8 issues. These were black and white documents with substantive discussions of receivership issues of the day. I had an idea for an expanded publication to include profiles of members and judges, a list of receivers, Tombstone ads for receivers to announce new or closed cases, a “gossip column” and advertising from vendors to pay for it. I presented this concept to the CRF State Board and the rest is history. Peter still writes a very substantial column, “Ask the Receiver,” that provides practicing receivers with useful information and practice tips. The first expanded newsletter was published in 2003, or fourteen years ago. This issue is number 60 so it has been a good run that includes more than seventy-five profiles of members and judges.

Do you have a favorite case?

In 2009, I was appointed Receiver in Federal Court in L.A. at the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission to take over an alleged Ponzi scheme, Private Equity Management Group or PEMG, with just under $1 billion in outstanding investments. PEMG had assets on three continents in seven countries and included a portfolio of life insurance policies. We are just now closing the eight-year old case and have recovered roughly $360 million. The investors (six large banks in Taipei made up 98% of the investor group) have recovered an average of 31% of their investment. The portfolio of life insurance policies (assigned to the investors) may generate another 10% or 20% recovery over time. This was a great case that put the seven-member team of Mosier & Company, Inc. to the test!

Question: What are your other interests and activities?

While I was in New York with TWA, I began playing squash. Today, I still compete internationally by playing in tournaments in Mexico and Canada. I generally get in two or three games per week in downtown L.A. I am a past president of Southern California Squash and currently Vice President of the International Jesters Club that purports to include the “best” squash, racquets and court tennis players in the U.S. and the world. So as not to overstate (a no-no for Full Disclosure Mosier), “best” is defined as either “is or was a top player” or a major supporter/contributor to the success of the games. Regrettably, I fall in the latter category!

Question: Has your wife of over 40 years, Ann Mosier, played a role in your professional development?

Ann and I have worked together since about 1982 or 35 of our 40-year marriage. Today, she is our office manager and chief paralegal. She keeps trying to retire, but with my limited farm-boy vocabulary, I don’t know the meaning of this word. She also raised our daughter Elyssa and regularly visits our granddaughter Olivia (just turning 5) in the Portland/ Vancouver area. The favorite activity for our combined families: a vacation cruise on a Disney ship. Brittany, our 14-year-old Lab, comes to the office every day.

Question: And what about your staff?

Of all the good things that have happened to me in this life, my associates that I work with every day would rank among the top. Craig Collins, CPA: whom I picked up when I was Chapter 11 Trustee for Allied Education in 1991 – Craig was the CFO. He is the quantitative side of Mosier & Company, but he is also a GREAT proofer of all office documents plus he edits RN. Ryan Baker is the newest member of this quality group coming aboard in 2009– a senior financial analyst who is now a receiver; Ryan made his debut at the recent Loyola VII conference as a participant on Alan Mirman’s panel. Jim LeSieur is a retired bank president and handles special assignments. Nancy Michenaud is our controller/bookkeeper who manages 200 to 300 bank accounts at any one time and coordinates dozens of receipts and disbursements each week. She is assisted by Aurora Bloom whom I met while wrapping up the Pettis Tester law firm in the mid-1990s. Our staff expands during the busy times with a receptionist and more agents. I like to think of these associates as the best of the best.

Question: What can we expect to see coming from you in the future?

I have always wanted to write a book. So, I have now produced eight Blurb books about my granddaughter that present her life’s journey from her perspective – more “Olivia” books are likely. I have also prepared several Blurb books on the various squash events that I attend. The foundation for these books is my high school journalism activity.

Question: Any final thoughts?

I enjoy my cases (well, most of them) and my associates, and I like the professional associations (CRF and NAFER (National Association of Federal Equity Receivers)). I also enjoy the judges that I appear before, and the counsel that represent me. I enjoy squash (and golf – I play golf once or twice a week with retired Bankruptcy Judge Jim Barr – we both have lots of room for improvement). Lastly, I have a great family that is marching through life’s journey one day at a time. Life is good – no, make that GREAT!

*Kathy Bazoian Phelps is a partner at Diamond McCarthy, LLP, Los Angeles, and the co-author of The Ponzi Book: A Legal Resource for Unraveling Ponzi Schemes. She frequently represents receivers and trustees.