By: Tom Duggan – Oct. 29, 2015
In 2010, Sven Amirian declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy when his successful business was hit hard by the recession. Documents obtained by The Valley Patriot show that Amirian owed $303,244.75 in total debt including his mortgage. The bankruptcy was discharged in 2011.
Amirian is a candidate for Haverhill School Committee and also the former head of the Haverhill Chamber of Commerce. He is considered a political outsider in this election despite a breadth of political experience, and a political network that other candidates envy.
Amirian said in an exclusive interview with The Valley Patriot that the bankruptcy stemmed from a downturn in the economy that hit him harder than some other entrepreneurs because his business was geared towards hobby enthusiasts.
“When the economy slows down, people cut back on hobbies first to focus on financial necessities. We took the brunt of that. I just don’t think anyone realized how long the recession was going to last. I used credit cards to pay bills. I wanted to make sure our workers and vendors got paid. All of my debt was credit cards, trying to keep the business going long enough to ride out the recession. Unfortunately, like many other people affected by the economy back then, we had to restructure our finances.”
Amirian said that he believes going through the experience of restructuring his business’s finances has given him experience that may actually be a benefit if he gets elected to the school committee. He said that many people face the same financial hardship every day, and the school system also has to deal with debt issues and financial challenges. He also said that being a positive person, he always tries to look learn from every experience and find something good to come out of it.
WHO PUSHED THE STORY?
Amirian also criticized those actively trying to get the media to report on the story of his personal finances, saying that the timing of the story (less than one week before the final election on November 3rd), was very suspicious. The Valley Patriot source on this story said they they had tried to get other news media to write about Amirian’s bankruptcy, but there seemed to be a media blackout on the story.
Amerian said that he did not want to make any accusation against other candidates, but lamented that his personal life was clearly being made public for someone else’s political gain.
“It bothers me that the political process is like this, that there are people out there looking to hurt you personally, or expose parts of peoples lives for political gain. I didn’t run because I needed accolades or to pad my resume, or like some, for the free benefits. I am just trying to do something good for the community. It’s very unfortunate we are not talking about the schools.”
“It comes with the territory I guess, I just wish it wasn’t so negative and so personal. I think a lot of people are tired of this kind of politics too.”
WRITTEN STATEMENT BY SVEN AMIRIAN (PDF)
In a written statement to The Valley Patriot after the interview, Amirian detailed the personal and business issues he was dealing with that lead to filing chapter seven.
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I started my first business while still in college and from 1996 to 2011, I grew it into a robust and viable enterprise. During the course of developing the business, I created and ran my own e-commerce website, started a retail storefront, and managed a multiple location renaissance faire presence from Maine to Florida. I developed long standing vendor relationships with organizations like the Huntington Theater Company, Boston Lyric Opera, Metropolitan Opera, and the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation supplying them with everything from costumes to swords and armor.
In 2005, at the height of my business prosperity, I went through the most challenging personal experience of my life. My wife and I experienced an extremely high risk twin pregnancy that resulted in the premature birth of my daughters, Meredith and Mallory.
On the heels of this personal ordeal, my business was enduring the great recession and from 2006-2009 we suffered significant decline in revenue. Although the business had enough reserves and credit to sustain a 2-3 year economic downturn, a recession of this magnitude required other tactics.
In 2011, at a time when companies too big to fail did just that I was forced to reorganize my company under chapter 7 bankruptcy. Fortunately, through careful planning and consultation with my accountants and financial advisors, I was able to steer the company out of this crisis while still managing to fulfill all obligations to my employees, my vendors, and state and federal entities. I am proud to say I never missed a mortgage payment or tax payment during the entire process.
As many people know, one of the main platforms of my campaign has been the need for special education funding reform. When the school budget is approved, there is absolutely no way to plan for the possibility of any students coming into the system mid-year with an IEP that requires a significant financial obligation. This obligation must be met by the school system in the current year, but state reimbursement does not come until the following year and at best is at 75% of what the local system expended.
Much like the school department’s struggle with these unforeseen cost obligations, my experience with financially related challenges beyond my control has given me a unique perspective on this issue.
I am proud of my accomplishments and I appreciate the opportunity to share some insight into a few of the elements that make me a powerful and effective community leader.