BR Wholesale RV and Marine has operated in Marshall, Mich., for 23 years, but what the company is experiencing now might force it to close for good.
According to a report by WWMT TV, owners J.R. and Ruby Watts say the damage they uncovered “is beyond belief,” and they say it’s all caused by the man they trusted to run the company, former president James LeBelle.
“I think he just took advantage of the whole system, everybody in their job is given certain responsibilities, some people don’t honor those responsibilities,” says Marshall Police Lt. Scott McDonald.
For 15 months LeBelle had been running the business for the Watts while they moved into semi-retirement. McDonald says in that time LeBelle made 251 transactions unrelated to the business, taking close to $160,000, and made a wide range of personal purchases.
“Everything from furnishings for the home, to different trips for the suspects and his family, a little bit of everything. We also found some of the funds were used to help the suspect start up a small business,” said McDonald.
Investigators found he used company funds to pay his rent, pay a bankruptcy attorney and rent a vacation cottage. They also found he used the company’s Sam’s Club card to buy a TV, a Blu-ray player and food.
The Watts said they didn’t know what had been going on until they went into the business around Christmas time and thought they had been robbed. Inventory was gone and the 17 store employees had been laid off.
There is a warrant out for LeBelle for embezzlement and the penalty is up to 20 years in jail. Police think he may now be in the Massachusetts area.
JTB Manufacturing Inc. and BR Wholesale RV & Marine have completed a 10-year lease transaction, allowing BR Wholesale to expand into facilities needed for distribution to its RV, bus transportation, marine, aeronautics and specialty vehicle customers in the Southwest.
According to a press release, the warehouse is located 47 miles east of Dallas-Ft. Worth and houses approximately 15,000 square feet of space complete with offices and a conference room. The new facility will also allow BR Wholesale to build its West Coast call center and expand their calling hours.
“This is a deal that just happened during general conversation,” said Terry Hurst, president and CEO for JTB. “James LeBelle, president of BR Wholesale RV & Marine, and I were talking about the JTB Products and somewhere along the way he mentioned that he was looking for warehouse space in Texas. It was several weeks later that I told him about our facility. James then asked me for pictures and then he visited the facility for verification and we put an agreement together that day.”
LeBelle noted, “It has always been a goal for BR Wholesale RV & Marine to be able to serve our customers in the Southwest faster. Now we will finally be able to support our customers with next-day service of parts to this region. The call center will also allow us to provide installation and power electronic integration tech support for questions during the Pacific and Central time zones.
Today’s job openings in the RV industry include:
- BR Wholesale RV & Marine is seeking an experienced Inside Sales Professional at the Elkhart, Ind., location. Must be computer literate, comfortable with incoming/outgoing sales phone calls, RV parts sales experience preferred. Competitive benefits and compensation package including: Medical, Dental, Vision, paid vacation and holidays. Send resume and salary history, in strictest confidence, to firstname.lastname@example.org No phone calls or walk-ins please. Drug Free Workplace.
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