“I would not hire him back. That’s for sure,” Don Unger, president and owner of Advantage Credit in Evergreen, told the Colorado Independent. He was talking about Dan Maes, the now-Republican frontrunner in the gubernatorial primary. Unger is Maes’s most recent employer.
In an interview Tuesday, Unger said that when Maes left in 2005 to start his own credit reporting business he essentially planned to undercut Unger’s business. Maes took customer lists with him and also tried to recruit Unger’s employees to join the new venture.
“He gave me no indication he planned to start his own company, but I discovered that he tried to take some of my employees with him. He took customer lists, and I know he called on some of my accounts. I don’t think he was very successful. I certainly never noticed any drop off in my business as a result of competition from Dan,” Unger said. “I don’t think he is a bad person, but the way he left certainly left a bad taste.”
Maes has ridden the anti-incumbent tea party wave this election cycle to near the top of the Republican party ticket. The campaign of his primary opponent, six-term Congressman Scott McInnis, has limped along and has been hobbled recently by revelations he plagiarized articles he was paid $300,000 to produce. Maes has celebrated his lack of political experience as much as his long business experience. He is often described vaguely in the press simply as an “Evergreen businessman.” Unger looks on the description wryly. “He is from Evergreen, so I guess that part is right,” he deadpans.
Would he vote for Maes?
“No I wouldn’t. There are more qualified candidates,” he said.
Maes has owned one very small business and has been a partner in one other small business. He’s spent most of his career as a salesman or sales manager.
He started Amaesing Credit Solutions after leaving Unger’s company but the venture never made much money and Maes closed shop in 2008. He told The Colorado Independent that he sold the business to Advantage Credit Bureau of Fargo, North Dakota– no relation to Unger’s shop in Evergreen. The resume posted on his campaign website says he merged the company with Advantage and became a vice president and partner in that company. A woman who answered the phone there, but who did not want to be identified, said she had never heard of Dan Maes. The owner of Advantage Credit has not returned messages.
According to The Constitutionalist Today, the Colorado Springs-based website to which Maes released his tax returns this week, Maes reported net income from Amaesing Credit Solutions of $19,202 in 2005, $20,340 in 2006, $51,678 in 2007 and $11,000 in 2008.
The only other business he has had an ownership interest in was Voice-Tel of Western New York, where he says he acquired an equity stake after working for a different branch of the company for five and a half years. His ownership interest ended about 18 months after it began when the company was sold.
He stayed with Voice-Tel, as a regional sales manager after the company was purchased by PTEK Holdings.
Maes started with Voice-Tel in 1990, working in a Colorado franchise until 1995. At that point, he said, he “earned a managing partnership” but he left to join a franchise in Western New York.
“The guy I worked for [in Colorado] didn’t want a partner, so these two guys [in New York] said we’ll make you a partner,” he said.
When Voice-Tel was sold, all 88 franchisees went to PTEK. “We got our share. I didn’t become a millionaire by any means, but we walked out with some cash,” he said.
“Premiere Tech (PTEK) was looking for people, and I was known as a top producer, so they moved me to Chicago where we doubled revenue in two years. I managed the Chicago branch and was a regional VP,” he said, even though his resume only lists him as a regional sales manager.
When Maes left Premiere Tech in 2000, he took a job as a regional account representative with Octave Communications, selling audio conferencing services from Denver.
Less than a year later, he was back to Premiere Conferencing as a regional sales manager, again working from Denver, again selling conferencing services.
He did that for two years before going to work as director of sales for Unger at Advantage Credit in Evergreen.
“I wanted to be an owner and [Unger] didn’t want a partner so my wife and I opened Amaesing Credit Solutions in 2005. I came from poverty as a kid, eating in a hot lunch program, so to accomplish what we’ve accomplished, I’m pretty proud of that,” he said.
In his best year, he claimed a net income of just under $52,000 but he says the company grossed about $300,000 and had three part-time contract employees in addition to himself and his wife.