I am writing to you as a former employee of Creative Memories and as a former participant in Creative Memories ESOP retirement plan. Creative Memories was a scrapbooking company based out of St. Cloud, MN. Creative Memories went bankrupt in 2008 and again in 2013. As a result of theses bankruptcies, many employees lost all or part of their retirement savings.
The problem with the current system is that the people with the most information, including banks and corporate executives, are able to manipulate the bankruptcy laws to their benefit at the expense of everyone else. Banks loan companies money and corporate executives can take that money with banks knowing full well that even if everyone else, including suppliers and employees lose, they will still get repaid. This system encourages irresponsibility and in some cases, deception of employees.
In the case of Creative Memories, corporate executives provided incomplete and misleading information to employees in 2003 that led to the their approval of a restructuring plan that eventually led to the company’s demise. Employees were told they had no choice and that they couldn’t lose. Employees believed corporate executives. In reality, it was the banks that couldn’t lose.
In 2008, Creative Memories was unable to pay back the loans that were taken out. The banks then took over the company and proceeded to extract all value from the company, ensuring that they got their money back, at the expense of everyone else.
In spite of filing several lawsuits against the banks and corporate executives, former employees were unable to recover their loses. Apparently, everything that was done was “legal.”
I lost my entire retirement account, but I am young enough that I will recover. Not everyone who was affected is as fortunate.
As a result of my experience, I urge you to consider revising the bankruptcy laws to place retirement accounts ahead of banks, when it comes to determining the priority for repayment. It won’t get my money back, but it might help someone else in the future.
Note: If you were also adversely affected by the Creative Memories bankruptcy, feel free to use my letter as a starting point for your letter to your representative or senator.
November 10, 2016: I received a response from Senator Al Franken.