While at Longboat Key this last week I had an opportunity to talk to Mitchell Smitherman
and Doug Slecta
, Krista's husband. Mitch was a successful manufacturing representative when he decided to open his own rental company specializing in large equipment, mostly earth movers.
A large warehouse was required to store the large equipment and he signed a lease
to get it. The equipment was also leased and payments were necessary every month. With his experience and contacts business was very good and the company prospered. When the housing bubble burst he found the profitability almost gone, still he stayed open hoping it would all come back. He worked long hours morning to night, six days a week. He stayed open until just recently when he had to close it all down because he was running out of money. He was still liable
for the rent on the warehouse, but, through a stroke of luck, his landlord declared bankruptcy and the bank has not shown a desire to collect on uncompleted leases. He was pleased to get out of such a big burden. He has obtained a job as a manufacturing representative from a previous employer. He gets around using an older truck that he salvaged from the business.
Both Doug and Krista worked in his Father's roofing business. When business became slow he decided to retire and Doug got the business. The hours were long for both of them but they managed to get by. Since business was slowing they were forced to cut back on their crews. Finally business almost came to a complete stop and they had to shut down. Krista took a job as a teacher and Doug looked around for another business. He decided on a storefront business called: "Play And Trade" Doug and his son Damon went to school out of state to get training. He rented a store with a five year lease
. He and his son made most of the fixtures, product was bought with some of his own money. At first, business was good and it looked like they would make a go of it. As the economy got worse so did the business. There was only enough business for one person and the son had to be let go, Doug worked long days for seven days a week. Eventually, it had to be closed. Doug says he lost $300,000 on this venture. He was amazed at how fast the last $100,000 went. Doug lucked out on the lease
, his landlord has decided to not press for specific performance, instead letting ham out of the lease
which lasts for another three years. He has obtained a job with the school system as a maintenance man. He is overjoyed at this situation since he works ten hour days for only four days a week.
They are both remarkable because neither of them are bitter, instead both are in good humor and sleeping good because they do not have the burden of a company with bills to pay. They are not sophisticates
of the political situation (no time for politics when you are responsible for a business) and both hope for better times in the future.