Pool Cover Specialists learns from the pain
by Paul Beebe of The Salt Lake Tribune
As turnaround stories go, this one is unusual.
Pool Cover Specialists — you can guess what this West Jordan company makes — set a sales record last year. But it did so after climbing out of a hole that someone else dug — one so deep that it could have killed the business.
“We broke a 29-year company record in 2012, even after we caught our CFO (chief financial officer) with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar,” said Bruce Grogg, Pool Cover’s CEO.
Last week, Penny Thurman pleaded guilty in 3rd District Court to one charge of theft by deception and a second charge of unlawful use of a credit card — both second-degree felonies. She admitted stealing $145,000 over a period of more than two years. Gregg said the amount may be a lot more, as much as $750,000 to $1 million.
“That was all we were able to prove,” he said.
The thefts began just four weeks after Thurman was hired in 2009 and continued until March 2012. Grogg said Thurman had complete control over the accounting department. She misused company credit cards, set up double payrolls and paid vendors who didn’t exist.
“She had everybody fooled, including our auditors. We trusted her 100 percent,” Grogg said.
The company was in deep trouble after the thefts were uncovered. Just as the swimming pool season was starting, Grogg discovered Thurman hadn’t been paying the company’s bills. Some suppliers hadn’t been paid in a year. The company faced the prospect of not being able to fill orders for its pool covers.
“It puts you in a position where you have no cash, our credit lines were tapped [out], there was no cash in the bank and we had borrowed all we could borrow. The season was starting, and we didn’t have raw materials to make the covers,” Grogg said.
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