In 2013 BU posted a blog to react to the surprising news well respected Dr. Grant and his wife were charged with theft from the company they founded. The recent news that the charge brought by the Peter Harris controlled Sandy Crest Medical Centre was dropped is good reason for BU to revisit this horrible wrong done to an honest Barbadian family.
BU refers to a document which immediately predates the falling out of Dr. Malcolm Grant and his wife, with Dr. Brian Charles once a very close, trusted and long-term friend of Dr. Grant. The key learning for those thinking of venturing into business with friends – you must make sure that everything is documented and be guided by someone who has the training, knowledge and experience to provide such guidance. For those already in business with friends without the appropriate documentation, this is a good time to formalize the partnership.
Below is a three page letter written by Dr. Charles to his fellow executive directors of Sandy Crest Medical Centre. In the letter, Dr. Charles craftily outlines why the post of CEO should have been created for him at Sandy Crest.
To provide some background, Sandy Crest Medical Centre was first conceptualized by the Grants in October 2003. After incorporating the parent company, Trans Med Inc, the Grants approached Dr. Charles to see if he would join them in the development of and the rolling out of their dream. He was subsequently given shares in lieu of his services.
After careful consideration, Charles later agreed to join the Grants, but pointed out clearly in the beginning that he had no intention of playing an active role in the running of Sandy Crest. This was because of his then positions of Medical Director and head of the A&E of the QEH. The Grants as we understand it agreed to accommodate Charles’ wishes.
Charles joined the Grant’s and became a member of the team known as the executive directors. This arrangement worked very well for the first five years of the company’s existence. With Charles using his experience and contacts as an emergency physician to help primarily with the recruitment and training of other emergency physicians and registered nurses for the medical centre. However, he played little to no role in running any other aspect of the Sandy Crest operation. This was not a problem because Charles, at the time, had no private practice experience when it came to drawing up business plans, negotiating with financial institutions, seeking private sponsorship, financially running, marketing, designing, constructing, outfitting, staffing (administrative), etc. of a private health care facility. Too besides, the Grants were somewhat wary of Sandy Crest becoming another QEH Accident & Emergency Department, so they felt quite happy with the self restricted role Charles played over the first five years of the business.
This dynamic all changed in mid 2008 when Charles was fired from his posts at the QEH. He was without a job and therefore was seeking employment. Therefore he first turned to his good friend Dr. Grant and fellow executive directors for employment.
Dr. Grant welcomed Dr. Charles’ sudden interest in playing a more active role at Sandy Crest although both of them differed as to what role Charles would ultimately play going forward. BU understands that Dr. Grant saw Charles as being an important member of Sandy Crest’s clinical team, offering to appoint him as Clinical Director, while Charles saw his role as being entirely administrative.
Dr. Grant objected to Charles coming on as an administrator because he knew that the Centre could not afford to pay Charles his asking price of $15,000 / month for a proposed 25 hour work week (see letter). Further, Grant noted that what Charles was proposing to do, was already being adequately performed by the Executive Directors and the administrative staff at Sandy Crest. Charles saw Grant’s objection to his proposal as a betrayal of a 28 year friendship, and from then on Grant was considered an enemy.
The rest is history.
The Grants learnt the hard way, having offered a number of friends shares in their dream, the following quote is instructive to others who may be in a lose business arrangement: –
A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship. – John D. Rockefeller