A Journey Through Bankruptcy
Key Role: Turnaround Expert to Investment Protector
√ 50% of the employees thanked Charlene for the respect and honesty given to them during the wind-down
√ 75% of the suppliers thanked Charlene for the honesty given to them and expressed a desire to work with her again
√ The Trustee asked her to come with them to complete the file (this rarely happens)
√ The bank was repaid AND the secured creditor recouped all his money
The company had been in business for 20 some years. Due to a myriad of personal problems, the owner of the company effectively abandoned his post for a few years to battle his own demons of drugs and alcohol. During that time there was no management of the company, a complete inattention to expenses, an incompetent accountant and a thieving key employee which set the company on a downward course.
When it became clear that the original objective of ‘right the ship and turnaround’ was not going to work quickly, the option of bankruptcy was explored. It was during the exploration of bankruptcy when the issues of internal theft were discovered and any hopes of recovery completely dashed. Charlene was in charge of stemming the losses as quickly as possible, notifying the suppliers and employees of what was going to happen and of working with the trustees immediately.
There is no real strategy to follow in order to go from $15 million to zero in three months. It is difficult for everyone involved. Instead, there are lists upon lists that must be compiled and followed. There are also fear levels which must be managed and anger which must be vented. The primary executables in bankruptcy are
A) To somehow get out in one piece,
B) To remember all the lessons learned and
C) To keep everyone’s dignity intact.