Keith Thomas Is Still A Kid At 82 And Making Money in 2020 With Floor Plan Inspections While Having Fun … Read About His Experiences … Make Some Extra Money Working Part-Time …

Keith Thomas who currently handles all or part of four counties in Northeastern Illinois is probably the oldest inspector in the USA at 82 and is also probably the most experienced inspector in our business. I have communicated with him several times over the last 20 years and he has contributed to my blog in the past. When asked about his experiences he replied. “ How many inspectors have such a varied background, having counted hogs in IA, audited Mobile Home Parks in the Dakotas, viewed a hog slaughtering plant in Il, a computer operation in MS, a condo camping ground in PA, been on a bank closing team in KS and MN, audited loan portfolios in CA, VA, FL and TX, a multi-million dollar 11,000 sf  home with a basketball court under the garage, a regional shopping center, then just thousands of homes, warehouses, motels, restaurants, apartment buildings, strip centers, and a Gentlemen’s club”.

Richard, your email about Floor Plans brought back memories of my very first inspection/verification which just happened to be a Floor Plan. 

I had just started to work for a captive finance subsidiary of a company that manufactured construction and farming equipment.  Was just barely able to find my desk, the coffee pot and the bathroom! I knew equipment but border line ignorance of finance at the time.  For those of you who do not know, a captive finance company is designed mainly to finance the sale of  manufactured equipment by the parent company.  GMAC and Ford Motor Credit are good examples of this. It is very popular for seasonal items like boats or farm and construction equipment where the captive can provide interest deferral on client  purchases until the start of crop harvest or spring construction in cold weather areas. This gives the manufacturing division the cash flow to run production lines thru-out the entire year. 

Arrived back from lunch my third day on the job to find my secretary crying; having been the recipient of a phone call from a crude, vulgar, and very unhappy client. I called him and upon investigation, found that the farmer had purchased a large combine on interest deferral from a local dealer and the dealer had sold the contract to the captive. The farmer had paid the dealer off(his mistake as he owed the captive not the dealer) at end of the deferral period but was still receiving a statement saying his account was unpaid and past due from us.

I checked with the sales rep who had floor plan responsibility for that dealer and he told me that he had just completed the latest audit just two days before and it was satisfactory.  A number of red flags came up saying that could not be true. This was before computers, cell phones, and other modern day technology but somehow we pulled together enough paperwork for me to drive 50 miles to audit the floor plan and then, confront the dealer and his wife. The end result was that ten of the large self-propelled combines were out of trust/missing. The dealer had sold them, then sold the finance contract to the captive company and later, had taken the payoff from the farmers at the end of interest deferral period.  I do not remember the dollar amount but in todays dollars, those machines now sell for about $450,000 each. He also owed thousands of dollars for his parts inventory plus GMAC for pickup trucks, his local bank and several other small related farm equipment manufacturers. Big losses are usually a result of everyone trusting but not verifying, highly respectable people.  Someone had forgotten to tell the new District Sales Manager that the most important step in a floor plan audit is “TOUCH IT OR GET A CHECK”.  Who can imagine that a dealer might just  lie?  I had no choice but to make the dealer fire his employees, to ask for the keys, escort the crying dealer and his wife(both highly respected pillars of the community) out the door, lock it and post a guard until the appropriate legal proceedings could be started for possession.  

I was hooked!!!   Still in this crazy inspection/verification business 52 years later.

Keith Thomas