This com­pany went from ‘Shark Tank’ to bank­ruptcy

Ver­mont en­tre­pre­neur leaves oth­ers hold­ing bag

The Arizona Republic - - MONEY - Dan D’Am­bro­sio “I don’t care if you wear goatskin. Do you make any money?” Kevin O’Leary,

The tie-dye suit def­i­nitely gets your at­ten­tion.

David Glick­man donned the get-up for his ap­pear­ance May 3, 2013, on Sea­son 4 of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The suit, Glick­man told the in­vestors, was a sym­bol of free­dom, a tal­is­man sig­ni­fy­ing his es­cape from the “rat race” of New York City to bu­colic Ver­mont, where he was pur­su­ing en­trepreneurial suc­cess.

That dream ended last Novem­ber, when Glick­man and his wife filed Chap­ter 7 bank­ruptcy. They closed the busi­ness he’d pitched to the in­vestor sharks – Ver­mont Butcher Block & Board Com­pany – and left be­hind nearly $800,000 in un­paid debts.

Glick­man could not be reached for com­ment on what hap­pened to his once-promis­ing busi­ness, but Dorothy Wal­coff, 94, of­fered her in­sight. Wal­coff owns the build­ing­where Glick­man had a store­front from 2011 to 2015.

Glick­man was a “wheeler-dealer,” Wal­coff said.

“He never paid his rent on time, then he would skip pay­ments,” she said. “He al­ways had a good ex­cuse.”

For the first year, Ver­mont Butcher Block was do­ing well, go­ing “cracker jacks,” Wal­coff said, and Glick­man paid on time. But busi­ness dwin­dled, she said, and the timely pay­ments stopped.

Wal­coff said she was “a lit­tle too good-na­tured” about let­ting Glick­man slide on his rent. When he asked to break his lease a year early, Wal­coff agreed, get­ting him to sign a promis­sory note for the roughly $10,000 he owed.

A year later, Glick­man hadn’t paid a cent, ac­cord­ing to Wal­coff’s daugh­ter, Deb­bie Blake. Wal­coff ’s at­tor­ney wrote a let­ter to Glick­man, say­ing he needed to pay now. Glick­man be­gan mak­ing pay­ments but still owed Wal­coff about $2,100 when he filed for bank­ruptcy.

“You don’t want to do busi­ness with him,” Wal­coff con­cluded.

That was the same de­ci­sion the sharks made five years ago. None took Glick­man up on his of­fer of a 25 per­cent eq­uity stake in his com­pany in ex­change for a $400,000 in­vest­ment.

Beg­ging the sharks

Kevin O’Leary seemed par­tic­u­larly unim­pressed with Glick­man’s tie-dye suit, say­ing, “I don’t care if you wear goatskin. Do you make any money?”

Glick­man said he’d sold nearly $3 mil­lion in prod­uct since found­ing the com­pany in 2004. He claimed he’d ap­proach a mil­lion dol­lars in sales in 2013 and make about $200,000 in profit.

That prompted celebrity in­vestor Lori Greiner to ask, then why are you here? Glick­man said he needed money and help to grow the busi­ness.

As shark af­ter shark dropped out, Glick­man sweet­ened the pot, telling Mark Cuban he could have 40 per­cent of the com­pany for $400,000. When Cuban de­clined, Glick­man turned to Robert Her­javec, of­fer­ing him 45 per­cent. At this point, Cuban told Glick­man he wasn’t help­ing him­self by beg­ging, and the episode ended with­out a deal.

Flex­i­ble Cap­i­tal Fund steps in

But Glick­man’s ap­pear­ance on “Shark Tank” wasn’t en­tirely in vain.

Ver­mont Butcher Block was the sec­ond Ver­mont com­pany to make its way onto the re­al­ity show. The first was cookie-maker Liz Lovely Inc., which also failed to at­tract an in­vestor and also has since gone out of busi­ness.

For Liz Lovely, the Ver­mont Flex­i­ble Cap­i­tal Fund stepped in with the fi­nanc­ing the celebrity sharks de­clined to pro­vide. Glick­man no­ticed and gave Flex Fund Pres­i­dent Jan­ice St. Onge a call.

The Flex Fund in­vested $250,000 in Ver­mont Butcher Block, al­low­ing Glick­man to move out of his garage and into a com­mer­cial space in Wil­lis­ton.

“We are like the remora fish on a shark,” St. Onge joked to the Free Press in 2013 about “Shark Tank.” “What for them wasn’t a good deal is a great deal for us.” Re­moras suc­tion them­selves to large ma­rine preda­tors, liv­ing off the scraps of prey.

Risky busi­ness

The Flex­i­ble Cap­i­tal Fund is still owed more than $205,000.

“He was a very good sales­man and not as good a busi­ness­man,” said Kevin Staudt of Ver­mont Com­mer­cial Ware­house, Glick­man’s land­lord in Wil­lis­ton who was left hold­ing the bag for nearly $84,000 in un­paid lease pay­ments.

“I would tell you that David talked a very good line, and all of his peo­ple he worked with and cred­i­tors thought he was do­ing well long af­ter he wasn’t,” Staudt said. “He didn’t seem in­ter­ested in any help or ad­vice, and he went through a lot of money.”

While he took pride in his cut­ting boards and kitchen uten­sils, Glick­man also read­ily ad­mit­ted his skills as a wood­worker were thin to nonex­is­tent and said he latched onto cut­ting boards be­cause they were easy to make.

“I can’t make fur­ni­ture; I can’t make a dresser; I have no in­ter­est,” Glick­man said. “I don’t have the pa­tience. I need in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion.”

An epi­taph, per­haps, for Ver­mont Butcher Block & Board Com­pany.

PHO­TOS BY GLENN RUS­SELL/BURLING­TON FREE PRESS

Randy Ouel­lette clears saw­dust away as an au­to­mated router shapes blocks of wood at Ver­mont Butcher Block & Board Com­pany in Wil­lis­ton, Vt., in July 2017.

David Glick­man, owner of Ver­mont Butcher Block & Board Com­pany, says he “just couldn’t han­dle it all.”

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