Feb 26 2011
"I've crunched the numbers. Double, triple crunched and without a major influx of capital, you're going to lose the company."
Douglas Hamilton exhaled deeply. It wasn't a surprise, but until he had heard his accountant, Adam Richards, articulate his company's verdict, there had still been hope.
"I'm sorry Douglas," Adam offered. "The recession has hit everyone hard."
"Some more than others," Douglas quietly sighed.
"Some more than others," agreed Adam.
Douglas stood up from the table and walked to his office window to gaze out upon the darkened street below. On a clear day, he could see for miles from his office building in Arlington, Virginia. Past the Potomac River, which separated the commonwealth from the nation's capital; past the obelisk shaped Washington Monument; past the city streets. He'd spent many an hour looking out onto the landscape which had given him much peace over the years. At this late hour, however, his tremendous view and personal calm were shrouded in black.
"There are other options," continued Adam. "You can sell the business, either piecemeal or whole. Haven't you had some interested parties?"
Without turning his gaze, Douglas shook his head imperceptibly, but it wasn't missed by his adviser. "This is a family business and it will remain a family business."
"Okay, your other option is to declare bankruptcy. File Chapter 11."
Douglas whirled around. "I can't do that!" he declared forcefully. "What about my employees? What would become of them if I do that? Yes, I could save myself and possibly start over, but at what cost to my dignity, my self-respect, my employees? Some of them have been with me since the beginning. I have multiple generations of families working for me. What would happen to them? What would my legacy be then? Their legacy? There has to be another way and you must find it. You will find it."
"I've given you the alternatives Douglas. If you don't want to sell or declare bankruptcy, then we're back to square one. You must raise some capital. And fast. What are your assets? Do you have something valuable that you can part with?"
Douglas fell into his desk chair and stared at his desk-’all the time he'd spent here and for what? To reach the top only to be at the bottom again?
His eyes settled on a photo of his beloved daughter and he automatically smiled. His beautiful Lizbeth. His pride and joy. He'd raised her himself after her mother's death when she'd been but a child. She idolized him. Seeing her tears as she cried for her mother, he had vowed to never give her cause to cry again so he had protected and provided for her. She'd received the best: a beautiful home, a top education, designer clothes, extravagant vacations, and all his love.
At age twenty-two he was still protecting her. She knew nothing of his business troubles. After her recent college graduation he had bundled her off on a graduation trip around Europe with her aunt and cousin. He hoped to have things resolved by the time she returned.
He reached out and touched the frame. His little girl. He couldn't bear to see the light for him go out of her eyes. She was the only thing that really mattered to him. The only thing of any value he had left.
"What?" Douglas stammered as he realized Adam was talking to him.
"I said, do you have anything of value you can sell?"
Looking from Adam's questioning face to Lizbeth's smiling one, Douglas wearily affirmed, "Yes, yes, I do."