Monday, February 06, 2006

Heritage Creations & our dear friend Leland

DearREADERS,
We just received notice from publisher and owner Leland Meitzler that Heritage Creations is filing for Chapter 7 Bankrupcy. These are the folks that do the wonderful HERITAGE QUEST MAGAZINE. Leland wrote yesterday morning in his blog:
http://genealogyblog.com/public-records-in-crisis/heritage-creations-filing-for-chapter-7-bankruptcy-1528

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This is a blog I never expected to ever write, but circumstances have dictated that I do so today.
Put in simple terms – I’m broke and am in the process of filing for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy.

As most of you folks know, I bought back Heritage Quest Magazine, and much of the Heritage Quest retail operations from ProQuest three years ago. It was offered to me by ProQuest as a "silver lining" to the fact that Patty and I were both being laid off, after 10 years with AGLL, Sierra, and ProQuest. Although I knew that the operation was losing a lot of money, in my arrogance, I thought that I could turn it around and make it profitable. I had little money, but I had substantial credit available to me. I didn’t want to see Heritage Quest Magazine go away. Having founded the magazine 17 years previously, my life was wrapped up in its publication. So I set off on the journey that ultimately cost us everything we owned. The operation lost money every month until we downsized in October. Since then, Patty and I have been working unbelievable hours in conditions that I’m sure no sane person would ever put up with. Doing this, I thought I’d found the key to making it profitable – and I may have, only at that point the hole I’d dug was too deep to climb out of.

We sold our home in November, using the proceeds to finance that quarter’s projects. We moved into a motorhome, parked in a local trailer park. In January, we were looking at not only magazine publication expenses, but also a fair amount of taxes due. On the 31st, I was prepared to spend my last dime on magazine publishing expenses when it finally hit home that there was no way that I could make it through February. I was about a half million dollars in debt, with debt service alone eating up cash flow. That afternoon I met with my accountant as well as a bankruptcy attorney.

I’ve hurt a lot of people in attempting to operate this business as I have – and a large number of those folks have been personal friends – some for over 20 years. There are very few within the genealogical community that I don’t owe in some way. I owe dozens of suppliers for product not paid for. I owe authors for articles written and not paid for. I owe subscribers for magazine subscriptions, both Heritage Quest, as well as Genealogy Bulletin. My friends have defended my integrity when times have been rough before. Now I’m letting everyone down, including those friends. I wish I could apologize to each of you personally, but that isn’t humanly possible. At this point, all I can do is say that I’m sorry – and I know that isn’t enough.

On a slightly brighter note, I’m quite sure that Heritage Quest Magazine and Genealogy Bulletin will find a new home, and the subscribers will get what they paid for. The subscriber-base of these two publications is substantial. This will have to be done with the blessing of the courts and ProQuest, who according to contract, gets all this back if I default. How long that may take I have no idea.

I will continue to blog, although my personal blogs may be a little thin for a few weeks. Joe will probably be doing a better job at that than I do anyway. I have a ton of paperwork to do, and that will continue to eat up all my time for a bit. My commercial websites will be coming down shortly. I have no idea what I’m going to do to earn a living. But maybe I’ll go back to research – which I love. I also plan to continue to operate a "Christmas Tour" to Salt Lake City – as I have for over 20 years.

Please don’t think too poorly of me, although I don’t blame you if you do. I feel I gave it my best – and that wasn’t good enough.
Leland K. Meitzler
Heritage Creations

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So, to our dear friend Leland, and his wife Patty we wish you God speed. You have been and I pray always will be a force for good in the fascinating world of genealogy.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE,
Your friend in genealogy.
http://www.DearMYRTLE.com

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