Well, I guess there was a little bit of forewarning when the FBI raided the Taylor, Bean and Whitaker global headquarters in Ocala on Monday. Yes, that surely raised some suspicions. But whatever concerns were raised, Lee Farkas was certain to allay all those fears by merely reminding his 1,000+ employees (that's just in Ocala too, and only at his main office - not his subsidiary companies) that there was plenty of work to be done, and we needn't be distracted by this little *raid* incident.
Following Lee's lead, it appears that the employees quickly revived their work efforts and went back to business as usual the next day, Tuesday (with the FBI circulating around and amongst them still - taking files and computers, etc.). Unfortunately, things took a few more sudden turns for the worse. Ginnie Mae decided to quit working with them, and the federal government decided to quite backing them. On Wednesday, the infamous email entitled "The saddest day of my life" was sent out around 1:00. Here's what it said:
Today will be the last day of operations for TB&W. I have done everything possible to try to save it, but I couldn’t. Since 1991, we have provided excellence in mortgage banking. We did our best for a very long time.
I apologize to everyone.
Everyone except those specifically designated as “essential employees” will be terminated today. Payrolls through today are currently being processed. Additional information with respect to employee benefits will be sent as soon as possible.
So today is Monday of the following week. I have been busting my butt since last Wednesday with updating a two year old resume and perfecting the dang margins (Why are the margins on resumes always an issue?? Why??? Is there no way for Word to make their program just a smidge more user friendly??). I have submitted said resume to numerous companies online. I have filled out various "applications" (which can be up to 15 - 20 pages on average) in addition to the resume. I'm exhausted. And as I've been informed by my spouse this evening, this may just be the beginning. Can I just say, I can't handle this. I recall my husband quoting the infamous Lee Farkas as having stated: "Some people can handle life, and some people just can't." Ya, so I guess, Lee, we're kind of on the same playing field; I'd venture to say neither of us can handle life today. Granted, my version of not handling life means filing for unemployment and scaling back on gas and what groceries I buy, and your version of not handling life means retiring a bit ahead of schedule. . . . Which I guess is fine - you've worked harder and longer than I have, so go for it. Either way, for today, we're feeling similarly inept and flat out crappy.
Personally, I'd like to just excuse myself from this little segment of life which I'd like to refer to as *hell.* Lee referenced this as the saddest day of his life, and I concur; it very well was the saddest day of his life. He worked hard and built himself up from a 'nobody' to a billionaire. I think I can speak for all of us in Ocala in stating that we truly appreciated his success and the impact it had on our life. We had good jobs with good pay and good benefits and good comradery. Really, it was good while it lasted; in fact, it was great while it lasted.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. I've gone over this a myriad of times in my head, and I still can come to no reasonable conclusion: 'Did Lee Farkas see this coming?'. I don't know. Maybe a week or two ahead of time he had an inkling. Maybe he knew his baby would eventually fail, but I really don't think that was ever his plan or intent. I think he intended to see it through until the day he died.
Obviously there were screw ups (in a big way) within the company. They didn't file their annual reports which obviously indicated (to me at least) that the books were soooo cooked that any nimrod with half a brain would suspect fowl play. The audit conducted last February was canceled midway through because there was so much evidence of fraud. Ya, I think Lee had an inkling, but I wonder if he hoped it would just slide under the radar a bit longer. Remember, for every day he stayed in business, he made money, and for everyday that he remained 'in business' but unable to conduct business as usual, he lost money; hence the sudden announcement of their closing on Wednesday - no pensions and no explained benefits.
I'm not sure at what point Lee knew about the fraud. His top two company officials have been banned from business with the federal government for the next 18 months. To me, that sounds like a lawyer set things up so Lee would never be the victim of the fraud within his own company. To me, that sounds like the upper officials within the company knew what was going on - and that doesn't exclude Lee. To me, that in itself sounds like fraud.
Regardless, the success that has been the last 18 years of Lee's life, and all who entered into business with him came to a close last week. For Ocala especially, it was a miserable day. For the USA and our economy on a whole it was a bad day. For Lee it was the saddest day of his life.
So Lee, maybe that was the saddest day of your life. For me, it's not the saddest day of my life, but it sure has been a miserable week. It sure has been stressful and difficult. It sure has been mentally and emotionally draining. Every night I go to sleep and I swear my eyes do not open for even an instant until the morning has far surpassed it's beginning. Every day feels like marathon - and I'm told this could go on for a while (I'm hoping to not be one who dies in the process of marathoning, but who actually somehow gets stronger). And every morning I wake up to see my husband sleeping peacefully next to me, when he shouldn't be - when he should be off at work taking care of business as usual.
I wish the very best to all impacted by this in any way.