Traveling Salesman Found to Be Convicted Felon

By Michael Klazema on 7/25/2012

The owner of a vacuum cleaner franchise in Denton County, Texas stands accused of hiring a known felon who ended up allegedly stealing from a customer. Ernie Nowell owns the local Kirby vacuum distributorship, hired his relative, who remains unnamed, even though Nowell was fully aware of his criminal history which included drug and alcohol charges. Jamie Chadwell has accused the door-to-door salesman of entering her home with another salesperson and stealing jewelry while she was distracted during the demonstration. Chadwell later learned of the previous criminal history of the accused. She says she “trusted him” and “feel[s] angry” that the employer knew about his felony convictions.

Kirby, based out of Cleveland, says that all local distributors are required to perform background checks on their sales force when they are hired. Company executive Steve Baden, says that factory distributors are required to follow “reasonable measures” in ensuring the sales force doesn’t present “a threat” to customers. Kirby points out that it’s up to local distributors to hire salespeople, and the company isn’t directly involved in the hiring process. Nowell says that he has run his Kirby franchise for 43 years, and although he knew about the criminal past of his relative, he wanted to go ahead and give him a chance. Nowell says he was aware that he was violating corporate policy by hiring his relative. He states the relative has been in many “rehab programs” but isn’t “a threat to anybody.”

Nowell believes his relative is innocent, and says that he performs background checks on those that he hires, and hasn’t “done anything wrong.” However, according to Nowell, the accused employee was fired after the theft was reported. Consumer advocates are saying the case demonstrates how homeowners are mostly guessing if they should trust salespeople who come to their door, especially as they usually increase in the summertime. According to Dallas Better Business Bureau spokesperson Jeannette Kopko, there isn’t really a “great way” for homeowners to know who’s at their doors, and they are “stranger[s]” if they are uninvited. She said that nationally Kirby has a rating of B+ from the BBB. Chadwell said she will no longer open her door to traveling salespeople in the future, and has even posted a ‘no solicitation’ sign at her door.

Cases such as this are the reason some communities have required door-to-door solicitors to register and submit to background checks, as discussed in the recent article Arkansas City is Requiring Background Checks on All Solicitors . Make sure your business is in compliance of all background check requirements by using a reputable company like You can be assured you are getting the best and most thorough screening techniques available. With access to countless criminal databases nationwide they have many options available, several with instant results. Their US OneSEARCH gives you instant information from more than 430 million criminal records from counties, Department of Corrections (DOC), Administration of Courts (AOC) and State Sex Offender Registries covering 49 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. Also included are national and international terrorism sources, more than 11 million photos, and their proprietary database of previously completed reports. Or try their National Wants and Warrants search. This search will give results within one to two days, and is a nationwide search of local, county, state, and Federal extraditable warrants, and may include misdemeanors or felonies. Most law enforcement agencies contribute to this database.

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