In a matter of little consequence we found an item of great consequence. We were asked to perform a due diligence check on a plumbing company that was going to be acquired by our client. The claims made by the company to be acquired on assets and revenue, ownership, and assets were all more or less as represented. The company to be acquired had a long history and had a very good name in the communities it served for over 30 years. As we were concluding our review one of our team members will generally walk around the business as well as participate, where possible, with some of the employees as they perform their duties. It was going on rounds with one of the plumbers that I got to talking about life in general, such as kids, schools, food we both liked hobbies, etc… It was an offhand remark that caught my attention and that was how happy he was to work for the plumbing company for giving him a second chance after he got out of prison.
None of this bothered me as he was in prison essentially for being, young dumb and felony stupid in public. What bothered me is what was on the back of the truck he was driving. “Technicians Seal of Safety: Ö Drug Tested, Ö Background Checked, Ö Professionally Trained”. I asked two follow up questions of the plumber. Do you get checked for drugs? and “What training classes did he take to acquire his knowledge?” He said he had never been tested for drugs after he was hired and had not had any ongoing training. So, on the back of each and every truck the “Technician’s Seal of Safety” was utter rubbish.
There were no problems with the employees, all seemed normal and competent. However, this “advertisement” this “Technician’s Seal of Safety” was false advertising and could expose the company to a Lanham Act suit, a suit that allege damages to competitors business or the public from false advertising. It was also somewhat disheartening as the owner of the company knew this, but he said “None of his people could pass a background check” – though he followed up with “If any of the employees were impaired he would send them home”. As for the training, the owner left any training up to continuing educations classes offered by some suppliers.
I suggested to the client, the company buying this plumbing company to do one of two things, pull the sticker off the trucks or actually do what it the “Technician’s Seal of Safety” promises.
A hold was placed on the acquisition until all employees had been drug tested, backgrounds checked, and tested for competency in their profession. This was done in 4 days for 62 employees. No one failed the drugs tests, one employee was driving on a suspended license for non-payment of several parking tickets, and all employee tested at the very high end of their profession. Now, there was proof positive of what was on the back of the Plumbing vans. Sure, some people had some felony convictions that were disclosed to the company prior to their being hired – this was fine. The person driving on the suspending license was sent to get it taken care of and in the meantime was put on a desk and worked to update the companies training program.
The lesson is if you advertise that all employees are “Drug Tested, Background Checks and are Professionally Trained” they should be and if they are not, fix it. Either do what you sat your advertising says or pull the ad copy.
Background Checks, if you advertise them, you better do them