Friday, July 09, 2010

New York 1: Outsourcing Documentary Provides Little Fodder

By Nathan L. Gonzales

Randy Altschuler isn’t the first candidate to be accused of shipping jobs overseas, but he may be the only one to have an entire documentary filmed about his company’s operation in India.

The New York Republican is running in the 1st district against Rep. Tim Bishop (D) but first must win the GOP nomination before setting his sights on the incumbent.

It’s no secret that Altschuler is vulnerable on the outsourcing issue. He started OfficeTiger, a provider of business services, in 1999 and built it into a very successful company, with a large operation in Chennai, India. He and his business partner, Joe Sigelman, sold OfficeTiger a few years ago to R.R. Donnelley & Sons for $250 million.

But Altschuler’s critics, on both sides of the aisle, are going to be sorely disappointed if they believe the 4-year-old film is going to provide much ammunition to fire at Altschuler during the campaign.

The 2006 documentary, “Office Tigers,” “examines an American-owned company that trains young Indian professionals the rules of Western business in this fascinating look into outsourcing and the contemporary blending of cultures,” according to the official description of the film.

But the movie focuses exclusively on the company’s activity in India where Sigelman is running the operation. “Randy set up the operation in New York, and I found myself on a plane to India,” Sigelman explained at the beginning of the documentary.

We don’t see Altschuler until the very end of the hour and a half documentary, when he has about three minutes of face time, traveling to India to prepare the company for a visit by a prospective buyer.

“I think we should all be so proud of what we’ve accomplished. We have a lot of respect in the marketplace,” Altschuler said in the movie to a group of workers who gathered for the office party for Sigelman’s 35th birthday. “People I know love, love OfficeTiger and are envious of people who work here, and I think you should take a lot of pride because you created what we have today.”

“But the story is not about India. The story is about, about, it’s really about the globalization,” Altschuler explained, sitting in an empty office at the end of the film. “India will pass like everywhere else. ... The company is really about Sri Lanka, Philippines, Salt Lake City, wherever we can find the best talent.”

The documentary isn’t a smoking gun, but the outsourcing issue isn’t going away for Altschuler.

In an issue landscape dominated by jobs and the economy, Democrats are anxious to run against Altschuler, but he has to win the nomination first.

Young attorney Chris Cox, one of Altschuler’s GOP opponents, describes himself as being the best messenger to carry the jobs message, a thinly veiled shot at Altschuler’s business background. Cox, the grandson of former President Richard Nixon, has also been a business consultant.

Altschuler has already used some of his business success in the campaign, contributing $1 million of his money through March. Second-quarter Federal Election Commission reports, detailing finance information through June, are due July 15.

This story first appeared in on July 7, 2010, 8:34 a.m. 2010 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved.