Best & Worst of 2009

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 28, 2009 12:00 am  

Best Snake-Oil Salesman

It remains to be seen whether the machine developed by Clean Technology International Corp. really is the answer to hazardous waste and the future of nanocarbon technology, but this much is clear: Investors who gave tens of millions of dollars to Darrell Lainhart of Sherwood for shares in CTIC haven't seen a dime in return after nearly a decade.


Worst Ongoing Blame Game

Former insurance exec Frank Whitbeck just can't let go of the notion that he didn't get a fair shake in court in his civil and criminal battles. Whitbeck still blames mistreatment by Little Rock's Metropolitan National Bank for forcing him to commit fraud in a failed attempt to prop up his unstable business ways. Sentenced to six years in federal prison for pillaging Signature Life Insurance Co., he has tried to get his jail time reduced because of allegations of mistreatment against Metropolitan raised by northwest Arkansas developer Tom Terminella in his (so far unsuccessful) battle with the bank. Whitbeck caught a break with his sentence to begin with, considering the guideline range for his misdeeds was 11 to 14 years.


Worst Victim Mentality

Bob and Katherine Shoulders complained to anyone who would listen - including the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The New York Times - about the "trash-eating rat" who had foreclosed on their Fayetteville Athletic Club. What they tended to gloss over was the fact that they had stopped making payments on two of their three loans from ANB Financial months before the Bentonville bank was shut down by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in May 2008. SM-WLJ Asset Owner LLC of Coral Gables, Fla., led by former Chicago banker Rick Williamson, acquired their $11 million in debt as part of a portfolio of nonperforming ANB loans the FDIC auctioned off, and Williamson had the nerve to foreclose rather than accept the Shoulderses' offer to pay less than half what they owed.


Worst Reason to Join the Family Business

Some families just aren't made to work together. Curt Bean Lumber Co. of Glenwood, for example. After Scott Thomason married Corey Bean in 1996, he went to work for his father-in-law, and she soon followed in the family business. A few years later, though, the recession hit the timber industry and lumber prices tumbled. By 2009, Bean Lumber was pushed to the brink of filing bankruptcy. The company blamed its financial troubles on the Thomasons. In a lawsuit, Bean Lumber said Curt Bean's daughter and son-in-law orchestrated an elaborate scheme that cost the company possibly millions of dollars in profits and sales. Scott Thomason denied the allegations. Thomason, who owns and operates Mid-Ark Lumber Inc. of Glenwood, said his company was owed $351,000 from Bean Lumber and has sued to collect that amount. The lawsuit is pending in Pike County Circuit Court.




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