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Challenges that almost ruined my business

Challenges almost destroyed these small businesses, but their owners overcame them and rebuilt their companies.

An employee stole one-fourth of our profits
An employee stole one-fourth of our profits
Owner: Holden Thomas
Location: Waco and Dallas, Texas

I started Excellent Mortgage in 2006 during the housing boom, and I wanted to grow as fast as possible. I wasn't thorough during the hiring process and did not properly vet applicants.

In 2008, a loan officer I had hired embezzled about a quarter of our annual net profits. That crippled us.

After the dust settled, I realized I had hired people who did not reflect the values that I wanted our company to embody. I didn't want people who wanted to make money at any cost. I wanted people who had good work ethics and morals.

I started over from scratch, hiring primarily based on character. I probably went overboard, but I wanted to make sure that I was building on a solid foundation.

I also realized that we needed a new name and brand that represented the new vision of the company. We changed the name to Oak Mortgage Group in 2011 as a symbol that, this time, we won't be moved.

Our revenue is now up by 400%. The market really gave us a chance for a fresh start, and the slow rebranding and rebuilding repaired the broken walls of a devastating past.

As told to Andrea Williams, contributing writer @CNNMoney - Last updated April 02 2012: 12:56 PM ET
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