I knew something was wrong with my buddy. I had known this for a while as he just hadn’t been his normal colourful, jovial full of beans, self.
“I’ll tell you another time” was what I got from him the few times I pushed to figure out what was wrong.
Eventually he started to open up “I’ve really messed up, I’ve been an awful fool” he began.
“I’ve lent the guys some money to help them keep things afloat before they bring in investors and I’m starting to get worried that I won’t get it back“. He was talking about the two guys he was working for.
It might sound totally off the wall that an employee would lend his employers money for their business but this was just typical of him.
In truth he can’t “work for anyone“. He gives everything 1,000% as he has done in every aspect of his life for as long as I have known him. He is passionate, he takes ownership and he gives absolutely everything to things and people he cares about. In this case this unrivalled passion had out him and his family in a very vulnerable position.
To be honest I was surprised and concerned when I heard he was working with this crew as in the trade they always had quite a poor reputation for not paying their bills etc.
I mentioned these rumours to him when he took the job but he was convinced that they were legit and while they had cash flow problems it was because they had overextended themselves (just like half the business people in the country). He felt they were good guys underneath it all and he was going to do everything to help them pull through this challenging time.
As usual he gave this job everything, hardly ever taking a day off and as always working every spare minute – I was worried that he would burn himself out. During the course of his time working there he introduced me and I got to know the two guys he worked for, one in particular. They were quite open about how thrilled they were with my friend and the job he was doing for them but they were also concerned that he was doing too much.
Waiting on investment
As mentioned earlier it turns out that besides working every hour that god sends he also lent them a significant amount of money – they were about to bring in an investor into part of the business and a deal was supposed to be close. However the cash flow situation was critical so they needed emergency funds to tide the business over until this deal was over the line – without these funds there was a risk that the business would literally implode. The banks were in no mood to lend money.
On this basis he lent them personal money to help tide them over until the date when the investment money came through – of course this was crazy but if my buddy believes in something or someone he would do anything to help them.
It started with a relatively modest amount of money – the investment process was delayed so more was required. There were further delays so even more was required and this went on and on for months. In the end it accumulated to quite a huge sum, enough to buy a house – at this stage he was virtually putting in money to protect the money he had already put in or else all would be lost.
Eventually the investors insisted on a 100% buyout and a deal was done, much to the relief of my buddy. Unfortunately at this point in time his relationship with his bosses had broken down, primarily because of this money situation and when he looked for the return of this nothing was forthcoming.
I even jumped into the middle of this situation to see if I could do anything by way of mediation as I could see this situation getting very nasty – while they acknowledged to me that they owed him the money they insisted that they were not in a position to repay it and could only manage this over a period of more than 10 years.
My buddy who bailed out these “friends” with his own personal nest-egg was now totally caught and had to resort to the courts to force the return of his money.
Pillars of Society
In my view what happened next was one of the most despicable, disgusting things that I have ever witnessed in business.
These “friends” that he literally tried to save were now denying that they ever received any money, they went on to discredit the job he did, they called his character into question, they accused him of ruining their business, they accused him of turning up for work drunk (this man didn’t have a minute to relax and have a drink!) and they accused him of putting them in fear of their lives.
I can see the deep hurt, stress, pain and worry that this has been caused to my buddy and his family – he was prepared to do anything for these modern day businessmen, his “friends” and this is what he got in return.
Not only did they take his money but they were now trying to rob every inch of his character and his reputation.
These are respected businessmen in the community with one holding a very prestigious position in a national members organisation: Pillars of our Society!
While this story is unbelievable I have sadly witnessed lots of similar stories (admittedly, none quite as nasty and as horrible as this one) where great, honest people have been taken advantage of by people with no scruples and no morals who feel this is all ‘just business‘.
My buddy has no choice but to take this case all the way to the courts and I sincerely hope that these ‘pillars of society‘ will be exposed for everyone’s benefit and that my friend and his family will get their hard earned nest-egg back.
Unfortunately they have taken much more than his money and someone who would do anything for anyone will no longer be quite the same.
I hope justice will finally be done..
Note: 24th July, 2016
After publishing this post originally I had second thoughts as I felt it might upset my buddy and his family so I put the post to sleep.
I’ve since reflected on this and feel it is better that we talk about these things as we must all do our utmost to make sure that people in business behave properly, with morals and scruples.
Ironically after putting this blog post “to sleep” I received a letter from the solicitor who was representing these two guys instructing me to remove my blog post (it obviously got to them – I hope they read it properly and had an opportunity to reflect on their actions) as it was defamatory against his clients.
I politely responded to their solicitor indicating that the post was not ‘live‘ and that even if it was there was no mention of them anywhere so it could not be defamatory. If they recognised themselves in the post that’s not really my issue.
I love how people like this think that they can behave appallingly and then if anyone says anything bad about their behaviour they jump up and down feeling that they are the ones who have been wronged!!
If you wish to read more about defamation and protecting your reputation check out a post I wrote on this very topic.