GEOS goes bankrupt.

Shawn over at letsjapan.org has devoted several posts in the past couple of months to the dire financial straits of his ex-employer, Geos, an English-practicing “Eikaiwa” in Japan and one of the Big Four (Nova, ECC, Aeon, and GEOS). Now I guess it’s the Big Two, but they’re already talking about Aeon . . .

I posted a comment there, because my feeling is that the Eikaiwa industry in Japan is simply a holding pen for working holiday visa holders from Australia, the U.K. and Canada. As usual, we provide the defense and the rich trade contacts for Japan, and Japan thanks us by opening up jobs for people from other countries. But in fairness, youth must have its day. It just wouldn’t seem so lopsided if there were one American here for each Japanese who settles in America, rather than for every six Japanese who settle in America.

(Imagine if America played the game like Japan, and Japan had to find jobs for all six people that America sent back for every American who goes home. But I digress . . . )

What impresses me about Shawn’s site is its realism. He can be treated a little controversially on the net the same as Debito, but both men are on to something about an aspect of Japan. Shawn has focused on the ridiculous excuse for an English teaching system, Debito on the civil rights issues. I, myself, of course am aware of internet abuse from the days in 2003 when I started blogging in my old community back home. So I don’t go out of my way to raise too much controversy. But I do, of course, have my opinions.

I notice that G.communication has been brought in, like it was for Nova, to do a mop up. The last thing the Japanese bureaucracy wants is the embarrassment of more press articles overseas about another “English school” that went bust. These things get treated, anymore, like when the FDIC comes in and takes over a bank back home.

Which major chain is next? It’s anybody’s guess. But I think the Geos bankruptcy puts pressure on the remaining two, if for the simple reason that people will be afraid to deposit their money in advance, for fear of losing it several months later. Established schools that have government support (like the community college and adult extension system in America) don’t have this problem.

But since the Japanese use the Eikaiwas as a holding pen for working holiday visa holders, trying to get an education through them is a bit riskier than a community college . . .

24 thoughts on “GEOS goes bankrupt.

  1. I work at a GEOS Canada location and it was no surprise. This company is one of the most corrupt, incompetently-run “organizations” on the planet. My manager is the biggest moron you could find….We like to call him Napolean, for obvious reasons. Seriously, more is coming so be prepared.

    1. Usually when companies go bankrupt, many people appear on the scene and say “that’s no surprise”.

      Someone always knows that the deal is going down badly.

      1. Well, some of us could not say anything before it happens. Well, here is something for you: be prepared fir around May 17tg. Big news out of GEOS North America. Sorry, but there are people who know more about what goes on…including the original poster above. 😉

        1. Adf, I don’t know if GEOS North America is bankrupt or no. I know the Japanese entity went bankrupt. Mine is not a gossip site–it’s a personal commentary site.

          The only advice I can offer anyone is to find out what state or province GEOS is incorporated in, and if they worked and are owed money from GEOS, make sure they are recognized as a creditor.

          1. Currently GEOS Canada and U.S. is under trustee control. Uri Carnat has been stripped of his Regional Director title by the trustee who is now calling the shots. You will see some closures soon.

            Teachers; get personal belongings out of your respective schools. Better, find a new job and leave…you will not be paid for all your work. Students: do NOT pre-pay tuition.

  2. What, you mean U C, the “VP of North America”/ Montreal school manager? That guy is a dirtbag! I worked for him until recently and all is can say is the lowest of the low. Scammed free hours out of us teachers and staff, and screwed the students. I wonder how he likes bankruptcy?

      1. Yes, yes. Sorry, hoofin, but you obviously do not know what goes on at GEOS North America. Take a look at LetsJapan.com..,

      2. Adf, I do read Shawn from time to time on LetsJapan. I’m just commenting on some of the colorful language and absolutes in the above post.

  3. “Now I guess it’s the Big Two, but they’re already talking about Aeon . . .”

    That’s because they are a bunch of internet trolls who love to sit around, whinge, and pray that all eikaiwa businesses go bankrupt so they can sit around and whinge with smug I-told-you-so smiles on their faces.

    (Wow, the bile was particularly strong just then.)

    I work for Aeon and can assure you that we are doing just fine. Quite well, actually. If they’re looking at Aeon it’s because it’s another eikaiwa school they’d like to see collapse and not because we’re in any kind of financial trouble.

    1. The Japan Times today says that monthly sales figures in overall Eikaiwa have dropped from 17.2 billion yen to 5.7 billion yen. (So in U.S. dollars it’s from $2.2 billion a year to just $735 million.)

      The amount of money coming in throughout Japan is just 32% of what it was. So one-third, let’s say.

      I imagine your own unit within your company might be fine. But any industry that loses 2/3rds of its revenue stream has got its share of problems.

      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100422a1.html

      1. I see your point, but supposed that (for example, with imaginary figures) before, we comprised 20% of that 17.2 billion yen — now we comprise 60% of the 5.7 billion?

        It’s not as cut and dried as that, obviously. But we’re in the black, thanks in part to management’s care not to expand like mad like certain other schools did.

        Yes, the industry is suffering, but fundamentally well-run businesses, and businesses that provide what the customer wants at the price they want to pay, and manage to make a profit at that level, can do well in any situation.

  4. “I posted a comment there, because my feeling is that the Eikaiwa industry in Japan is simply a holding pen for working holiday visa holders from Australia, the U.K. and Canada. As usual, we provide the defense and the rich trade contacts for Japan, and Japan thanks us by opening up jobs for people from other countries.”

    Umm…working holiday visas are a 2 way street. The US doesn’t offer working holiday type visas whereas the other 3 Commonwealth countries you have listed do. That is hardly a fair comparison.

    There are also more US visa holders in Japan than UK/CA/AU combined:

    http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001055089

    While working holiday visa holders may end up in Eikaiwa, I have heard the reverse is also true. Japanese that go to Australia on a working holiday visa end up being shunted into Wakaiwa (Japanese teaching) simply because that is all they are “qualified” to do. They end up with fewer chances to pick up English (one of the main reasons to go to an English speaking country) because they have to spend most of it speaking their native tongue.

    There was an article recent in one of the NY papers (not sure which, was mentioned on TV) that year on year, the number of Japanese going abroad to the US to study was decreasing year on year. Japan is becoming more and more withdrawn into itself. One reason: The HUGE pain in the backside that the US visa procedure has become after 9/11. Why go through the hassle? Stay at home. Local companies seem to prefer to hire people with no living abroad experience because they are “easier to deal with.” That is a problem in and of itself.

    1. Chuckers, I actually want to write more about this some other day. Your source is giving the following stats:

      Japan residents by country of origin:

      UK: 20,824
      CA: 15,025
      AU: 16,329

      for a total of 52,178.

      US: 63,956.

      But here are the estimated populations of:

      UK: 61,414,062 (July 2008)
      Canada: 33,212,696 (July 2008); and
      Australia: 21,007,310 (July 2008)

      The U.S. is estimated 307,006,550 in 2009, so we’ll haircut it to 303 million in 2008.

      So those three countries combined are only 38.5% of the U.S. Yet, combined, are 80% the size of the American expat community here.

      Lastly, you are right that the U.S. doesn’t have working holiday. But it has a very liberal green card program.

      [LATER NOTE: I know the above figures are wrong, and represent a flow of people into Japan. But they are close to what has been traditionally the “alien” resident population here that I went with them anyway.]

  5. Hoofin, do you know the name of the trustee that is now in control of GEOS North America? Same as the Japanese one?

    The news about GEOS Canada and U.S. now under the control of a bankruptcy trustee came at the end of April…But it was really secretive and GEOS North America has failed to put it on any of its Web sites. I do know they are looking for a quick sale of assets (good luck) and the North American Vice President, Uri Carnat, is now just a school manager as the trustees take over. That’s about all I know, though.

    Thanks!

    1. If you find out what federal court the bankruptcy was filed in, someone at the courthouse switchboard will probably be able to tell you who the trustee is.

      In the Internet era, all the government information isn’t always on the net. And maybe good, in a way.

  6. Thanks, but GEOS Canada is being very secretive about it. Typical. So no one knows anything and no GEOS manager will provide anything other than “everything is normal.” Yup, sure…But we do know it was announced April 30th and the trustee is in control.

    Anyone know anything? How in the heck are they going to sell anything if no one knows?

    1. “Why”, this should not be too difficult a task. You simply need to call around the GEOS North America gang to find out where the bankruptcy filing was. I am assuming that it was in America (USA) somewhere.

      Once you find that out, call the courthouse and they will tell you if a trustee has been appointed.

      If you are owed money for a salary, then you are a creditor. You have a right to know this information and GEOS should not give you a hard time.

      Nobody appreciates a bankrupt who abuses the system by being evasive. So demand from them what you need to know.

  7. Called a GEOS Canada location…Promptly told to call Uri Carnat guy in Montreal. When Montreal answered they stalled, gave excuses…Then I was hung up on. Nice, eh? Hope they collapse soon with this sort of behaviour.

    1. I’m just saying, if you are owed money by GEOS North America, you should persist until you get answers. If the North American unit is also filing for bankruptcy, you would be a creditor. Courts do not like debtor fraud against creditors.

  8. I used to work for Aeon and things are NOT just fine. Get out while your paycheck is still getting to you. With the teacher turnover rate (esp. Japanese) this is no surprise, but they brought it upon themselves. I know SOOO many great Japanese staff/teachers who finally quit after the intense pressure and crap head office fed them.

    1. I am still surprised how these situations all sound like the bank runs of the 19th and early 20th centuries . . .

  9. FYI Hoofin, the US Federal courts use the online PACER system, which is useful for finding matters under Federal jurisdiction. I suspect GEOS NA bankruptcy would be held in the federal court district in the state where it is incorporated. IANAL, but I do a lot of research.

    1. Thanks. PACER slipped my mind–I think I had checked out that site several years ago.

      (I’m a lawyer, but not currently practicing.)

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