GuidePedia

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The Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit, is by all accounts an amazing opportunity for women to learn, grow and share.  No one can dispute that.

I have heard story after story from women who expressed how much fun they had, riding to the event, making new friends at the event and learning new skills and techniques from the speakers to make their lives better, richer.

No one can take that away from the event.

But, like the Sturgis North/Canada events here in Canada, when a promoter does not conduct an event like a business and put key people in place and let them do their job, things can get derailed and cause a ton of hurt and loss. It does not matter what the motivation is, be it greed or one of absolute sincerity and genuine desire.

In the case of Sturgis North 2011, 2012 and Sturgis Canada 2014, there were many suppliers who never got paid.

From the 2011 event, Techlectric in Salmon Arm/Lloydminster never got paid for their bill for supplying the electrical generators etc., and as a result the company ended up shutting down their Salmon Arm office.

Blackburn Construction did not get paid for their services and that's another hefty bill over $50,000.
The man who lent Ray Sasseville the money to start Sturgis North has a judgement for over $60K that he has been unable to collect on. In total there were at least 17 suppliers who never got paid and that does not take into account the people who never got booth refunds or lent Ray money.  Many of these people never bothered to sue either because they didn't want to throw good money after bad so they licked their wounds and walked away. Many didn't have the funds left to sue even if they were inclined to.

There is story after story like that about all three of Mr. Sasseville's events.

The 2012 event at the Vernon Motoplex owned by Okanagan Aggregates for example, they are still trying to collect on over $400,000 in bad debt. The tee shirt supplier got stung for around $75 grand.

In 2014, it is reported that a security company did not get paid in full, bands did not get paid in full, that the Legion did not get paid, a local hotel did not get paid.

Did the attendees have fun? Oh yeah, like any ride in event the riders, in spite of the confusion and disorganization of the event hosts, the rider still had fun.

Every event, at the end of the day, is about the attendees and what they make of it.

That does not change the reality for the businesses and individuals 

who are left out of pocket.

The man in question, Ray Sasseville, has sued me for pulling together his history and past along with 6 others in a shotgun nuisance suit.  You read that right, he sued 7 of us in one suit.  He even sued a non profit! 2 of the defendants have had their case dropped, the City of Sicamous and the Mayor of Sicamous.  5 of us, including the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce are still trying to get things dropped as the man who initiated the suit has quit communicating with lawyers.
The case is in effect, dead now although still on record.

I did not have money for a lawyer and turned to the community that I have been living in,working in and volunteering in for many a year and asked for help.  I got that help. Because many people know how hard I work for the riding community. I have a proven track record. I got the help because people understood that I had done nothing wrong. I had shared documented facts, given him his opportunity to say his piece on more than one occasion - hell I had even sponsored the event in the beginning because I could see the vision.

Sadly there is a big difference between vision and execution.


The man in question, Ray Sasseville is awaiting judgment in his second BC Securities hearing and goes to trial over a huge lawsuit in Arizona, that is, with costs somewhere over 1 million dollars in value. That happens in April of this year.

So you see the fact that people have fun at an event, that they truly enjoyed the company of their fellow riders, can mean very little to the people who in some cases are left out of pocket for thousands and thousands of dollars. Money they worked hard for.

The single biggest concern I personally have over the summit, is the event management and by that I mean the ability of Joan Krenning to do this job and do it well for many years to come. Its hard, hard work putting on a successful event. It takes a ton of dedicated people. It takes great business acumen.

In case after case, I have found people who invested time, effort, money and supplies with Joan in her many businesses (13 that I know of) that have come away feeling used and betrayed.

Those who are willing to tell their story publicly do so because they believe that they are aiding in preventing from others being hurt.

I spoke with her former employee and investor John Hintz and he gave me this statement to use publicly: "Joan is a classic grifter. She is a scam artist, her employees in Madison would make a mad dash to the bank to cash checks. If you were slow, you didn't get paid that week. She would have to use other peoples credit to conduct business. She does it all under the guise of her religion. She is not a person you want to be associated with. She's uses people and discards them when they are no longer of use to her."

Valerie Hirsch, for a brief period in time was hired by Joan because of her skill in design.
After witnessing people she knows get hurt, Valerie got out and she now has her own company.
In response to a gal named Marcia who felt my blog article on Joan was character assassination Valerie wrote this response yesterday:

Marcia, if it was your money that was stolen, I KNOW you'd have a different response. I admire Belt Drive Betty for standing up against CRIMINAL behavior. It is not as simple as you make it. I know because I witnessed the theft of monies from John Hintz who was her partner, and who she took his $15,000 investment and fired him after 6 weeks. In those 6 weeks, he wrote $100,000 worth of business for her, and he saw $0 of those commissions. She cited that they didn't see "eye to eye". Being that the documents of the stock that he bought into the company were phony, he had to take her to court. He won for both the investment and the commissions earned. As with anything in court, it is almost impossible to collect. Again, look at the Wisconsin Circuit Court Webpage to see this FACT. You don't know how many people she has done this to, which is obvious. It is time to call a thing a thing and a thief a thief. As far as anyone who claims their intentions under a "faith" is not a get out of jail free card. One has to be very careful in this day and age of citing "religion" for any of their causes. I think everything we have seen going on with "religion" overseas bares that fact over and over again. Check out ISIS if you need a reminder dear. I also witnessed another "partner" put a second on his house to the tune of $30,000, which he never saw again and was also dismissed. This article is filled with additional facts that don't add up to a creditable person with integrity in question, and most importantly hurts the intent of those person(s) who do conduct themselves with transparent truth and integrity. This has nothing to do with riding. It is about misrepresentation, theft and tax evasion of which are all cited and proven here. What more do you need? I applaud this article as a woman business owner who fights the fight everyday to be in this place and who pays her/and company taxes every day to have the country that we live in. That's the bottom line dammit, and no one is ever going to have this kind of thing to say about me or my company ever! That's my pride and patriotism front and centre and anything less is not acceptable to say the least.  Valerie


There are others who fear reprisal from the women's riding community and rightly so.
They will go to court if called on to speak to character and historical patterns and the like, but they'd rather not speak out publicly, fearing for their livelihoods and fearing the verbal abuse and backlash of other women.

Case in point, I have been attacked by people stating that my article was nothing but character assassination or that I had bias going in and only found the bad stuff out about Joan because that's all I wanted to find.

If that was the case, why did I give her my list of questions so she could prepare?

I have been waiting on records to verify different claims Joan has made about her life to see if I could get ANY real insight into her.  I am waiting on information from the Loveland Library research department and am told that it can take weeks and months to go through the microfiche records.
But I have not stopped looking.

Yesterday for example, I learned that Joan and the man I believe to be her first husband, a navy man, who after 31 years of service as an AE1 and who did at least one tour in Viet Nam and a tour in the Azores, died while she was in county jail for pot possession.  She was arrested on August 28th, 1989 and her husband died on September 11th, 1989.  The previous year, they had lost the Buckhorn Tavern that they had owned from April 14th of 1986 to October 18th, 1988 when Allied Mortgage foreclosed on them.


I can only imagine what that much loss must have been like for her, with two small boys to raise.
Her son Matthew was born in July of 83 and Ryan in March of 87.

From that point on in her life, it appears that she has made one bad business decision after another. 
There is no way for anyone to actually understand Joan's motivations behind the many bad situations and decisions that have plagued her over the course of her life.   

BUT, Joan's apparently bad business decisions appear to have continued to today's date.

As recently as November of 2014, Joan's partners in DesignWraps Brands LLC and Inc. decided it was time to pull the plug on the business.  Reportedly $100,000 of investors money and countless hours of time and effort are gone. Those partners are now wrapping things up with the IRS and preparing their documents with their lawyers to launch litigation.

Joan however, is already back in business as Design Wrap Brands Inc. and has a new partner, Sara Boyer Little. She is using the same photos, web site, phone number etc. as she and her former partners shared.  She has reportedly been using the same data base to contact former customers and let them know she is still in business.

The only thing her most recent set of former partners/investors could tell me because of the pending litigation, is that they never sold any assets of the company to Joan. The only assets that had been sold were fabric, and that was sold to another apparel company and the funds were used to pay off debt.

So whose truth do you believe?

The many people who claim that Joan is untrustworthy because they lost money, time and effort?
OR - Joan's truth as delivered through her blog?

I know this much, there is no such thing as a perfect person.
Not me, not you who are reading this or anyone else for that matter.
We all have our baggage and stories. It's called life.

There is a reason, that long before I took steps to "investigate" things, there were rumblings and whispers of discontent. Shoot the messenger, the one that countless people have come to and said please, help us...

There is a reason that these people reached out to me and I want you think about that.

It does not matter that I have been as fair minded as I can be in sharing this sad story, there will always be those who will want to shoot the messenger. So be it, I have big shoulders and a community behind me that knows my motivations are simple.

Give people the tools and information they need to do their due diligence.
Making solid decisions in business is tough enough even when you do your due diligence.  
Once you are presented with the facts, the only thing any one of us can do is follow our core values, heart and gut.  

Only you can make the right choice for you.

The summit is a business.

It is a non profit business and it needs to be run with utmost transparency if it is taking in public money as donations.

Run by the right team of people, the summit has every chance to create jobs, bring women together, help women in business connect with their consumer and empower women in the riding community.

My one burning question is, although Joan may be the founder,  have the vision, the dream, can she execute that dream without hurting others through bad business decisions? I guess only time will tell.

I can't wait for tomorrow when I can bring you a story of strength, endurance and empowerment in my next instalment of BIG LIVES and the women who live them...tomorrow you will meet Liz Jansen!

Have a great day everyone, and if you are blessed to live where you can be riding, please ride like everyone around you is blind and cannot see you.

Belt Drive Betty,
Editor & Rider

UPDATE:

The cheque to the Ride for Kids was unearthed by one of Joan's people and sent to us.
Not sure why the executive director couldn't find the donation.

The Summit happened in May and the cheque is dated for August and wasn't cashed until October
so that could be the problem.

Perhaps he was not looking for the right date range.
One mystery solved? When I send them the copy of the cheque well know.
I sent the cheque for the charity to confirm and they have confirmed that they did cash the cheque copy I was given.

UPDATE:

Apparently we have one of those wild Canadian way VS American way things are done, going on and perhaps it is why I have faced a few challenges getting information!

You see the cheque that was sent to me was dated 06/08/14 and cashed 06/10 14
In the US that means June 6th and June 8th, in Canada that would read August 6th and October 6th!

UPDATE:

OK now I m really confused.  I got a copy of a cheque made out to the Road Guardians.

The date 11/03/14  according to the person who sent it to me, they did intact get the cheque in November.  The cheque was not from the Steel Horse Sisterhood, but in the Memo area says RE: Steel Horse Sisterhood - the cheque is from Oklahoma! So I am confused, very confused...
So yes they got a donation, but how that donation came to be is what is of concern; coming from Oklahoma, signed by a guy named Phil, on behalf of the Steel Horse Sisterhood, 6 months after the event and 3 months after the donations issues arose.



















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  1. Thanks for your insight and research. Not knowing either of you but belonging to several women's riding groups I stumbled upon your blog article yesterday. Although as you said, this is an editorial and some assumption could be made, the facts, i.e. lawsuits, warrants are factual and whether in the past or current, it speaks to the character of the person. Sure, I've personally made mistakes too, but never shirked responsibility to the government or my debtors. To be fair, I did check out her site and FB page and did find both somewhat self-promoting, just my own opinion. That does't make someone bad, but not the type of people I share my space with. For those looking to do business or be associated with someone or a group, it's good to do your homework!

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