‘You are not alone’ says businessman who faced ruin and recovered

Michael Heverin

Michael Heverin

There is help out there and you are not alone - that was the message from Clonmel businessman George Mourdaunt last week as he launched his new book on the financial trauma that hit his family firm.

Mr Mordaunt said he would have loved to have read his own story when his motor dealership faced financial ruin.

“I would have known then that I was not alone and I would have been inspired. There is help out there and people you can go to”, he said at the launch of the book “Shepherd’s Pie” in the Narrow Space gallery last Thursday night.

And he told any business person in trouble to approach him and he will point them towards help.

“That is the message I am trying to get across”, he remarked

He thanked family, friends and staff who had helped him when the car dealership built up by his father Brian over decades faced collapse during the economic crisis.

He details how over-expansion, opening new dealerships and accepting new franchises, nearly pushed the company under.

He explains the personal trauma he suffered as he saw no way out of his financial meltdown.

And compounding all his difficulties were the pressures from the banks for their money back - banks that had lent to him in good times but changed once things got difficult.

He read a letter from a kindred spirit, another businessman who had suffered in the same way.

“Dealing with the banks made me feel like a criminal”, the businessman said in his letter.

“I employed hundreds of people, paid millions of Euro in taxes, had no bad debts and always paid my suppliers. But I was bullied and abused by the banks”.

Mr Mordaunt remarked that this is what’s happening behind the scenes and why he wrote the book.

He accepts that it is a very personal account of his family’s business affairs - how he took over control of the business from his father, expanded in the good times when car sales were buoyant, how the crisis impacted on family life - and then the recovery, when he took control, realised he wasn’t alone and that there were more important things in life than money.

“I had to get permission from my family before I wrote this”, he said.

His father Brian, who is central to a big part of the story, said he was proud of what George had done and remarked that he agreed with ‘99% of what’s in the book’.

The book was launched by Mayor of Clonmel, Darren Ryan, who remarked that it couldn’t have been easy to write the book but that it showed the reality of what life could be like for business people today. He said not many people would have realised how bad things were.

Twelve months ago Mr Mordaunt spoke at a Clonmel Chamber of Commerce seminar on the troubles his firm had experienced and the personal trauma it caused and the book was a follow-on from that talk.

Mercier Press managing director Clodagh Feehan said her firm became interested in the project because the story showed that people are suffering in difficult times but the story was also one of hope.