Education: The Ohio State University, bachelor of science degree, business, major in accounting
Greatest business challenge: When I worked for another company, when I walked in the door, this other company owed the IRS $250,000 in trust fund taxes. Now that’s significant. I had no idea at the time the significance of that because I had never been in that situation before.
However, I was able to work out a payment plan with the IRS, which allowed us to pay down that existing debt and remain current for future payment of trust fund, payroll taxes.
About halfway into this payment plan, I came to work one Friday and found a notice to levy on our bank account. A levy is where the IRS literally goes in and sweeps your bank account and takes whatever money you have in there.
In our particular case, they got $50,000 of money that was already spent but still sitting in our bank account. That caused a great problem for us. So I picked up the phone and I called one of the managers at the local IRS office and said, ‘I need to come down and see you.’
When I left a half-hour later, they’d given me back $35,000 of that money that we had to have to meet payroll on Monday. I basically told them they were wrong and we were right. We were living up to our agreement and our obligation to them, so they had no ethical or moral right to this money at this point in time and that they were going to put 50 people out of work by their actions.
The gentleman that I spoke with kind of compromised. He said, ‘I’m not going to give it all back to you ... ’ but I knew then that we were going to be OK. It is amazing what you can do when your back is against the wall.
Most important business lesson: The best customer is the one that takes the longest to get. Short-term gain almost always leads to long-term pain.
And the opposite is also true: Short-term pain tends to lead to long-term gain. Anything that comes easy and fast typically is not good and will not last.