I now owned a company, a well known brand that was started by 3 guys who used to work for a company called LaTouraine in July of 1928! I felt like I had a responsibility in some strange way to keep the brand and company alive.
Well looking back on it now, I had to be out of my mind! We owed the bank $3.2 million dollars, we owed our suppliers another $2 million plus but I knew in my heart we would survive.
During those days, those long never ending days, I'd sit in my office and try to think of ways to get out from under this huge, suffocating amount of debt we were in. We immediately started implementing realistic projections based on cash flow, sales, trends, opportunities etc...
It barely worked, I mean by the skin of my teeth it worked, but without a penny to spare! We were paying the bank $47,000 per month in interest! And now I was on the hook for the whole darn shooting match. What a time. It was a time full of worry and stress, but for some reason I kept coming back to the fact that no matter how deep we were in it, it was still mine, all mine, and that was strangely exhilarating. There really is no better feeling than to have your entire future in your control, even while the whole damn thing could have spun out at any moment.
But, I worked with the bank, appeased their demands, and kept plowing along. The bank however, was taking up so much of my time that trying to focus on fixing the business almost became an after hours job. I'd spend all day making sure the reports were spot on, and we were not in any kind of default from our extremely lengthy forebearance agreement I was handed after I signed my life away. But the way I looked at it, was very differently than I would look at it now. I was young, a risk taker(obviously) and I knew that if I could just implement a few different strategies, increase our margins and expand our distribution, we might, and I mean might be able to survive.
I spent a lot of nights looking up at the sky and stars and shaking my head, saying to myself, "what the hell did I get myself into"? But as time started to move forward things started to get a little better. Some of the moves I made began to pay dividends, but it seemed every step we took forward, the bank would tighten the noose just a little tighter around my neck. That's why I think banking and commercial lending especially is such a joke! The old adage, when you need them they are never around, and when you don't need them they are throwing money at you. I have to tell you, that is soooo true. Maybe banker's in the commercial lending side of that business should be required to have some sort of experience as a business owner. Now there's a thought huh? Well they don't, they are all a bunch of robots, driven by ratio's and equity valuations and , well you know...
I guess that's one of the main reasons I am a consultant now. I have been in the worst possible positions and gotten out of them. I know what it takes to deal with blockhead banker's and workout departments now. Yeah I learned it the hard way but it was an invaluable experience dealing with these type of problems. But the one thing is, they didn't understand who they were dealing with. I was not going to fold under any circumstances and I would fight until I couldn't fight at all, and so it began. Game ON!!!