Less than a month ago, Inc.com ranked Houston-based Gold and Silver Buyers, Inc. as the eighth-fastest growing company in America. Since 2008, the company has grown from one storefront in the Copperfield H-E-B to more than 70 outlets stretching from Longview to the Valley and west to San Antonio. Three-year sales growth rate at the company is 11,430 percent, last year's revenues were listed at $14.9 million, and a company official has said that number is expected to increase almost threefold by the end of this year.
In that same article, a man named Brian Culwell was pictured behind a power desk in a gold-spackled office, engaged in what looks like a very important conversation on the phone. Inc.com identifies Culwell as the CEO of the company, and quotes him at length.
"We treat all of our customers the same," he says. "It doesn't matter if you're making a million dollars a year or you're blue collar, you walk out feeling good instead of walking out ashamed."
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Shame is something Brian Culwell apparently has very little of. This rising mogul of the Texas gold trade is a three-time felon.
He's been to prison for burglary, bank fraud and felony theft, and has had several other cases dropped when convictions were obtained in those cases.
He's lost multiple civil judgments, and hasn't paid at least one sizable one. At the tender age of 19, the State of Texas proved in civil court that he was the ringleader of a direct-mail scam, and more than ten years later, another of his capers sullied the names of a respected veteran cop and Houston sports legend Hakeem Olajuwon.
You'll read all that and more in this week's cover story. It's certainly one Brian Culwell doesn't want you to read. He's already sued me for asking some of the questions you'll find answered in the article. He claimed I had my facts wrong, and it's true, in one small example, I did. Whether or not that mistake makes any difference in what you might think of the man I'll leave up to you.