“I’ve had more sleepless nights between the beginning of last year and until the recent days of resolving this thing than I’ve had in all the rest of my life put together … I’ve never had anything affect so many people’s lives as this did. Until I finally got past that guilt stage, that sense of what I’d done, I found it very difficult to try and focus. Yet I had to every day.”
Those words, from Irwin Jacobs, refer to the bankruptcy of Genmar, which the former CEO of the company said was the deal that has “affected me the most in a negative way” in response to a question from the author of an article in the July 2010 issue of Twin Cities Business magazine.
In the story, titled “Irwin Jacobs gets back in the boat,” the Minnesota-based businessman covers a wide range of topics including more about how Genmar’s bankruptcy unfolded and his expectations for the boat brands he still owns.
Jacobs tells author Sven A. Wherwein that only two weeks before Genmar declared bankruptcy, he did not think such a move was possible. Jacobs says he and his partner – John Paul DeJoria, with whom he formed J&D Acquisitions – put $45 million into Genmar within 120 days of the company’s bankruptcy, which they would not have done had they known the company would go bankrupt.
Jacobs also went to an investment banker in New York to raise another $150 million and was given a letter of intent, but told it would take six weeks to gather the money. Jacobs says his bank was not willing to wait that long.
“The individual to whom I was speaking responded that ‘you’ll never put this company in bankruptcy. You just put $45 million into it,’” Jacobs said. “I hung up the phone and concluded that I would get a bankruptcy lawyer, that there was no way we were going to be able to make this work. I was convinced I could raise the money. As it turned out, they never gave me the time to do it.”
Asked if he has any regrets about the events that led to Genmar’s bankruptcy, Jacobs had this to say: “Lots of things, but let me say that the world changed in record time. We were not the only victims of the times. But would I have run the business the same way? No, I would not. I feel after the fact that we were too fat. But if anyone is to blame for the decisions, it’s me. I put my money where my mouth is. I was the biggest loser.”
Later in the article, which is available now on newsstands and soon should be on the magazine’s website, Jacobs says that while he is not planning for the boating industry to bounce back to where it once was, he believes his new company can make money even if the market is off 60 to 70 percent. He predicted the Larson factory would be turning a profit by this summer, but that the Carver and Marquis brands could take longer.
“It’s like a steel mill,” Jacobs said. “You’ve got to get it up and running.”