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Many companies small and large end up dealing with fraud at some point, but a family business never expects one of their employees to steal more than a half-million dollars. That’s exactly what happened to the Stevenson Company, the metal works company behind many beautiful designs around Topeka and beyond. Owner Joe Pennington opens up about the experience and the hard lessons learned.

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Show Notes For This Episode

When a business owner pours so much time and energy into their product and their customers, the accounting side of the operation can often get put to the side.

Unfortunately when that happens, employees will take advantage of their company by stealing. It happens more than you might imagine and most businesses keep everything in house because it can be an embarrassing experience.

Joe Pennington, the owner of Stevenson Company, learned a lot of difficult lessons when he discovered an employee of 10 years that he trusted had been stealing over a long period of time. By writing checks to cover gambling losses, more than $500,000 was eventual stolen from the business before they found out and fired her. As you can imagine, this is an extremely tough situation to face and then overcome, but Pennington has done just that.

He now helps other businesses take the appropriate steps to prevent something like this from happening to them. Here’s a list of some of the fraud prevention measures a company can take:

-Background checks

-Credit checks

-Use a third-party accounting service

-Separation of duties

We’ll provide more detail on the show, and Pennington is also working on a book that could be coming out in the near future as well.

So let’s get the show started. There’s a lot to talk about beyond the fraud as well, especially when you’re dealing with a business that’s been around nearly 70 years. As you listen today, keep an ear out for these key topics:

  • What led him to this profession and this company.
  • What made him want to become a business owner.
  • The things he wish he knew earlier in his career.
  • The story of how an employee stealing taught him an important lesson about watching the money.
  • His personal mission to help other businesses deal with theft and the book he wrote about his experiences.
  • The lessons learned and the fixes you can make within your business to help prevent fraud.
  • Some of the fun projects the company has created and built.
  • How he became an Evel Knievel

To learn more about the Stevenson Company and Joe Pennington, check out their website.

The full interview can be heard using the audio player above and utilize the timestamps below to jump to a specific topic. Thanks for listening!

[0:53] – What is the Stevenson Company?

[2:40] – How Joe got involved in the company

[5:15] – Did you ever expect to own the business?

[7:37] – What do you wish you knew earlier?

[8:25] – Employee stole a half-million dollars

[18:49] – Helping other businesses with fraud.

[22:56] – His book

[25:26] – Lessons learned about fraud

[29:16] – Why his employee was always at work

[32:49] – Projects he’s proud of

[37:55] – Work-life balance

[40:52] – Will the family business be passed down?

[43:57] – Bonus Content


Quotable Moment:

There’s a lot to the idea of clocking out and just let second shift or let somebody else worry about it, collect a paycheck. That sounds really great but, man, there’s so much freedom in owning one’s own business.

-Joe Pennington

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    May 5, 2021 by Meljofield from United States

    Every episode provides insights on how to overcome challenges of being an entrepreneur from people who have been in the trenches. Tracy does a great job of asking all the right questions to help her listeners gain knowledge that will help them in their entrepreneurial journey.

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    Tracy is passionate about inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs with what is possible. She brings on guests who are sharing their school of hard knocks experiences to support their fellow entrepreneurs in having successful businesses that have real value.

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