Vita Sua in a Bygone Mobile
Part 19 in a series: G gets his money's worth. Joe P's a pal. Or is he? I have a choice. But it is no choice at all.
Previous installments: 1, 2 , 3 , 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Mobile Bay Times
G got his money's worth from me. In 1963-64, I produced a lot of business. The payout ratio for these two years was just a bit better than 20 percent. I would have been better off at SR.
The reason for the low payout was our contract which provided a maximum amount for production supplemented by a small percentage of the office profits. It wasn't a good working arrangement
G died in 1964, Joe P.
took over and our
but now my pay
I liked Joe P. much
better than G for
reasons, as well as
for some that weren't
quite so obvious.
He had come to New Orleans from the U.S. Trust Co. in New York some few years prior to our enrollment with EFH.
He did not know much about the brokerage business,
starting at the top so to speak, but he was a very gentlemanly fellow, with a fine personality and a genuine regard for his fellow man.
Joe and I hit it off from the start and I have always valued his friendship.
He was later to be the instrument that caused me considerable grief but I have always thought, rightly or wrongly, that it was something over which he either had no control or a case where he was badly misled.
As the year 1968 dawned, we were moving into swanky new quarters at ground level of the new 34-story First National Bank Building, by far our city's most impressive structure.
At the cocktail party which formally opened that bright new office, I told Joe that I would that year reach the $100,000 production mark, a sort of ultimate achievement in our line of endeavor which brought one a membership in the firm's Blue Chip Club and was usually an opportunity to buy some company stock at its book value.
By dint of considerable effort, I did succeed. My total for 1968 was $103,790.
As it turned out, I did not get the stock until a year later. I think that someone just forgot me. It was unfortunate because it was priced at $18 the year I moved over the 100M mark and at $24 the next year when I was allowed to buy 100 shares.
My contract for 1968 called for me to produce a minimum of $50,000 -- which was falling off a log for me -- but to receive pay for $100,000 production, plus 10 percent of the office profits.
It looked like the road ahead was rosy but, as it turned out, treacherous shoals lay before me.
We were just about three months into 1969 when Joe P. informed me that he was sending Bob F. over from New Orleans to work a few days in our office and make an assessment of it for him.
I had met Bob F.
a few years earlier
in New Orleans
when he had just
training. He had
come on well and,
at about age 30,
was one of the
top producers in
I had a strong
feeling that the
visit was a
preliminary to moving young Bob up the ladder at my expense. It turned out I was correct.
Apparently, someone had dictated that he was to get a manager's job in the region. Mine was most vulnerable,
the other two, other than NOLA, being held by G's son-in-law and by another gentleman with powerful family
connections. Both of these people were very capable and
perhaps, if someone had to go, I was the most likely one, regardless of other influences.
But, because of these influences, I didn't have a chance.
Joe came over in June and informed me of the change. It didn't affect BH very much, in as much as, while he retained the title of co-manager, he had been working for the past year or so strictly on production.
I thought and still think that it was most unjust. I told Joe that I was not sure that I could accept. I pressed him for a reason. I could see that he wanted to tell me something but would not bring himself to do so. He just said, "It's for the good of the firm."
I got the definite impression that he was under some sort of compulsion to provide a spot for Bob. Where the pressure came from, I did not know and did not find out.
The change was to be made in September.
I tormented myself considering a decision for nearly a month. I know that I had not been selfish enough. I had not asked for and taken everything that I could have gotten. I had given up accounts to help others, I had kept people on who were struggling to succeed, when I could just have easily "cut their throats" and gotten someone else. I was not ruthless enough. Perhaps, because of that, I really wasn't fit for a manager's job.
Actually, my decision was almost a foregone one. At age 48, it would have been a nigh-impossible task to have left and started over again. Forty-eight-year-old account executives aren't in that much demand.
So I told Joe that I would stay as an account executive.
Bob was a salesman, pure and simple, one of the best I've ever known. He also had that ruthless quality that often pays off and perhaps in many cases anyway is the best policy. Men who didn't cut the mustard didn't get a second chance.
With another bear market under way in 1969, business wasn't too good for anyone but, after the market bottomed out in May of 1970, Mobile's business picked up more than most offices in the firm.
We attracted considerable attention when nine of our ten AE's qualified for a trip to Mexico awarded top producers in a mutual fund contest sponsored by the firm. It was the best percentage of eligibility of any of the EFH offices.
Bob moved on to greater things in early 1973 and BH replaced him as office manager. I supposed that I was not considered at all because, while I cooperated with Bob at all times, I think my feelings showed through.
(Next: A little celebrity, a strategy and an education.