Mr. Wexner, Give Us a Call
Mr. Wexner, could you please give the Breckler family a call? They are just looking for an explanation of why their stock certificate for 50 shares of The Limited stock received by stone mason Kenneth Breckler in 1976 isn't being honored by your company. The Brecklers aren't looking for charity. They're just trying to find out why the stock Kenneth received because he gambled some of his hard earned money in your company in 1976 when he was earning less a week than one share of L Brands' stock is worth today is being rejected by the company. They have tried to obtain an answer why 7,200 shares of stock have not been issued per stock splits since that time by contacting L Brands, but have been ignored. Since filing suit, they've been told that they are just too late and now don't deserve to have the stock honored even though it was issued as a result of Mr. Breckler investing in your company when it was still small and struggling in 1976.
Why am I writing this request? Because the Les Wexner we have come to know is the George Bailey of Columbus, Ohio, not the Mr. Potter. Les Wexner is L Brands just as much as Steve Jobs is Apple. He is Columbus' Carnegie. A local boy who opened a single store in Kingsdale Shopping Center with a $5,000 loan. He has grown that one store into the billion dollar empire that is L Brands and many other spin off companies. He has donated $100,000,000 to The Ohio State University, funded the creation of the Wexner Center and donated more to other charities than any 1,000 Ohioans will earn in a lifetime. We firmly believe that the Les Wexner we know will pick up the phone or have one of his people pick up a phone and meet with the Brecklers to explain what is going on.
Kenneth Breckler never amassed the wealth of Les Wexner, but in his own way, he epitomized the American Dream. After fighting in the Korean War, Kenneth and his wife, Dorothy, were able to reaffirm their love and marriage in a Catholic wedding ceremony. Kenneth began working as a stone mason in Columbus, Ohio and raising two children who he deeply loved. Kenneth worked hard, because he wanted the best for his wife and kids. He kept an eye out for good investments because he knew that would be the best way to ensure that Dorothy and the kids would be taken care of long after he was gone. In 1976, after hearing and seeing what Les Wexner was doing, he dug deep and bought 150 shares. His investment paid off quickly as a stock split was declared in July and Mr. Breckler received 50 more shares. These are the shares that have been ignored by L Brands with no explanation resulting in a loss of 7,200 shares of stock from subsequent splits, dividends, and other benefits. Because Kenneth Breckler was receiving more stock and dividends from the shares that he had purchased and still working hard laying stone and brick, this discrepancy went unnoticed. Instead, Kenneth continued to help build homes and businesses in Columbus until he was made the head of the Masonry Institute due to his skill and accomplishments in his trade. Kenneth would frequently tell his wife and children how happy he was to have invested to help Mr. Wexner build his empire. He told them that this investment would make all of their lives more secure. He was rightfully proud.
Kenneth Breckler died on January 26, 2014. When an attorney performed an accounting of his assets, it was realized that 50 of the shares Kenneth had received in 1976 had not been honored resulting in a loss of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to the Breckler family. That started a series of inquiries to L Brands that have been met with the equivalent of Bah Humbug (AKA "too late", "snooze you lose", "too bad, so sad"). A look at the letters and court filings from L Brands continually reflect a Mr. Potter approach to investors rather than a George Bailey approach.
Things have changed a lot since It’s a Wonderful Life hit the screens in 1946 and cheered war-time Americans with the attributes of empathy, charity, and friendship. As a result, it may be asking too much for an explanation. So many distractions for our Mr. Bailey. His Ferrari lawsuit. His English castle. The tremendous performance of his company’s stock. But with Christmas and Hanukah almost upon us, we are hoping for a call. Hoping for an explanation. Hoping for something other than Bah Humbug!
Please Mr. Wexner, give the Brecklers a call.
Michael J. Rourke