Success Turns Sour

October/21/2008 21:53PM
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I met a young couple in Arizona 11 years ago. They were in their late 30’s. Teresa was the CFO for a chain of car dealerships. One of the largest in the country. Doug was a car salesman turned realtor. They had no children and were chasing the dream. Shortly after I met them the marriage were sour and they divorced. Teresa was the big bread winner.

Doug turned it up several notches. He hired a group of sales people and became one of the largest producers in Arizona in real estate sales. In five years he began to make more than the ex-wife. He started to develop shopping centers and move into commercial real estate. He pulled way ahead of Teresa. It seemed to be very important to him.

Just as he put a lot of distance between them, her company gave her 50% interest in a new car dealership. Ouch. By Doug’s estimate that was an outright $10 million dollar gift for her years of service and the company’s belief in her. That put Doug behind again. Not to be outdone, he got into a big subdivision development with a well-know builder in the Scottsdale area. He bought a water company in a small town in Northern Arizona. Two very hard working dedicated people hitting the big time based on their hard work and dedication to making it on their own.

In the past year name two businesses that have suffered more than real estate and car sales. It’s a new contest now. Who will go broke first? It’s a tough call. Teresa’s $10 million dollar interest in the new car dealership may be worth $5 million at best. She is probably in debt up to her ears based on that $10 million value. Cars are not selling. She may have the company behind her, but some of the biggest dealerships in the country have gone broke already. If things don’t turn around, she may be done in a year at most. 

Doug is leveraged up to his ears. Nothing is selling. His shopping center is half vacant. The subdivision is on hold with three houses built. Roads and all infrastructures are in. The bank that has that loan is probably nervous. If things don’t turn around, Doug may be broke in a year. 

Neither of these people did anything wrong. If you think you are bitter put yourself in either of their places. Work 60 hour weeks for years to get the big break. Do everything right and the world turns against you and things outside your control put you back to where you started 15 years ago. 

Bush will get the blame for this just like FDR blamed Herbert Hoover for years even though FDR’s social programs made the economy worse according to historical economists. It is only fair to keep a perspective that the social programs of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd combined with the lack of an energy strategy put the economy in the tank. 

Our country is full of people like Teresa and Doug. Anger management may be the best business opportunity for the future. Washington has no clue what’s coming at them if this continues.      

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