In December, 2013 we reported that David Rutkauskas, CEO of Beautiful Brands International (BBI), announced (via LinkedIn) that he has served as CEO of Global Franchise Development for start-up e-cigarette retail franchise Palm Beach Vapors since March, 2013. We found that notable since that was the same period UnhappyFranchisee.Com was fending off legal and social media attacks from Mr. Rutkauskas, who later apologized and blamed heavy drinking and depression during that period.
Chip Paul, the founder and “real CEO” of Palm Beach Vapors, has asked us to clarify that, despite the Beautiful Brands announcements to the contrary, David Rutkauskas was never his company’s CEO. According to Chip Paul, Palm Beach Vapors was simply one of the unsatisfied customers of Beautiful Brands International’s “Partner Program” (BEAUTIFUL BRANDS Partner Program: Behind the Hype).
In a statement provided to UnhappyFranchisee.Com, Chip Paul states:
In August of 2013 we contracted with David Rutkauskas and Beautiful Brands International to help us with our franchise development. By December 2013, we had seen enough. Very little development effort, sales done with no regard for regulations, no contracts with potential franchisees, reports of improper conduct with prospects, and he was claiming he was the CEO of Palm Beach Vapors.
We terminated our agreement with David R. and Beautiful Brands International in December of 2013.
BBI or David Rutkauskas does not have any affiliation with our company and has not had since December 2013.
Here’s our original story from December 24, 2013:
[UPDATE: UnhappyFranchisee.Com has learned that as of December, 2013 BBI and David Rutkauskas are “no longer authorized to represent Palm Beach Vapors or sell Palm Beach Vapors franchises.”]
Mr. Rutkauskas’ sister-in-law Carolyn Archer is reportedly now Palm Beach Vapors V.P. of Sales.
Geoff Gaskin, Sr. Vice President of Global Marketing at Beautiful Brands International, is fielding Palm Beach Vapors franchise inquiries, according to Palm Beach Vapors marketing materials.
According to the company website, Palm Beach Vapors was founded by Charles “Chip” Paul, Cynthia Paul, and Angie Stokes and is “the first official franchisors of e-cigarettes in history.”
In early 2013 they opened their first Palm Beach Vapors store in Owasso, OK.
The store offers “a complete line of Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cig) products, and carry everything from chargers to custom-made liquids and accessories.”
Undeterred by the common wisdom that a concept should have a proven track record and an established, profitable prototype before being franchised, Palm Beach Vapors appears to have offered franchise opportunities less than a year after opening its first experimental store.
David Rutkauskas is 6 Months Down the Road to Healing
It’s been 6 months since David Rutkauskas embarked down his self-described “road to healing.”
According to David Rutkauskas’ apology to the publisher of UnhappyFranchisee.Com (David Rutkauskas Apologizes, Will Drop Lawsuit), personal and professional stress earlier in 2013 “resulted in approximately 6 weeks of extreme lows” in his life.
“After MANY, MANY years of sobriety, I chose to drink away my pain,” wrote Rutkauskas. “Obviously this was such a poor choice that caused much more pain… I did and said things I can never take back.”
Among the things Rutkauskas regretted was a costly lawsuit and vicious personal campaign of attacks against UnhappyFranchisee.Com publisher Sean Kelly.
David Rutkauskas apologized profusely for the legal attack that he himself characterized as undeserved and inexcusable, and that saddled Mr. Kelly with more than $10,000 in legal bills.
Yet while David Rutkauskas has started several new ventures, including the signing of a $150,000 franchise deal with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and development services for Palm Beach Vapors, Mr. Rutkauskas does not respond to requests for reimbursement for the legal fees incurred by Mr. Kelly due to his attacks.
We are pleased to see that David Rutkauskas is recovering from his personal turmoil, and hope that he is far enough down the road to healing to “make amends” to those he has harmed.
We Look Forward to Learning More About the Palm Beach Vapors Franchise Opportunity
Are you familiar with the Palm Beach Vapors franchise opportunity?
Please share feel free to share your insights and opinions. There are several red flags that jump out regarding this franchise, including the unproven nature of the concept, the lack of a company track record, and a volatile regulatory environment that could cause e-cigarettes to be highly regulated or even banned in some areas.
We are also very concerned with the potential liability of what appear to be unsubstantiated health claims in Palm Beach Vapors consumer and franchise marketing materials.
Please check back for future posts on this interesting but concerning franchise opportunity.
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Tags: David Rutkauskas, Palm Beach Vapors, Palm Beach Vapors franchise, E-cigarette franchise, E-cig franchise, vapors franchise, Beautiful Brands, Carolyn Archer, Geoff Gaskin, Charles Paul, Chip Paul, Cynthia Paul, Angie Stokes