The Company I Miss the Most - Lumbermens Mortgage Corporation
A Personal Experience in the Corporate World
Once I found my niche in a career and having previously been trained by some of the best corporations, I settled into a company that was run almost strictly personal - nothing business. This is not to say that the company officers were not intelligent or did not understand the necessary functions of the industry, it was simply preferred by the company President that he be personally involved in both paperwork and the individual lives of every employee.
Mr. Harris, or "Mr. H" as I had come to call him, hired me himself. During the interview he asked me the usual questions. I had met Mr. Harris and his Vice President when I was in attendance at an industry trade association meeting. We had a few drinks together and talked. He was looking for someone to hire and I just happened to have the experience. He said, "When you're ready to switch jobs, call me."
Little did Mr. Harris know, but I was about ready to walk out on my other job. I took some vacation time that was due me, returned to my job and discovered I had been demoted for taking vacation, so I walked out. I called Mr. Harris. I did not tell him what had happened.
After a brief interview, Mr. Harris smiled and said, "I'd like to welcome you aboard. When can you start?" Although I was unemployed, I said, "Well, I have to give two weeks notice so I can start in two week." I wallowed in two more weeks vacation.
The dress code was casual. Jeans, a decent shirt or business attire if you so felt like it. Smoking and drinks and food at one's desk were permitted. Employee's birthdays were celebrated, usually by a catered lunch in the office (funded by a "Sunshine Fund" or something similar that was used also for gifts to employees who were ill for extended periods of time.) Every year there was a company picnic - "Beer on the house!" - at a park. THEN there was the fabulous Christmas parties. It was almost like "Money No Object."
Even during hard company financial times, Mr. Harris almost vowed to never fire any employees. And believe me, when Mortgage Interest Rates hit 19%, there were HARD TIMES. Mr. Harris re-mortgaged or took out a second mortgage on his home one time to meet payroll. Needless to say, this is the company I wanted to work for the remainder of my career. Then, one day, Mr. Harris, in an effort to expand the company when the market was finally turning around, hired a COO - he was strictly military, nothing personal.
Suddenly, there was no smoking. "Corporate" attire required or you would be fired. No more Christmas parties. In short, it sucked. I hung in as long as I could, not wanting to leave Mr. H or the industry that I loved, but the situation became unbearable. I took as much time off as I could, not wanting to spend those military days in the office and really not being able to afford "Corporate" attire. And, of course, having a habit of smoking while I think, I decided that there was not option except to walk out there, too. Mr. Harris had been informed that I would be in the office after hours one day. He and Mr. Vice President seemed like they were waiting to talk to me. I went to my office, packed all of my belongings and walked out without paying respects. Because I thought I would cry. But Corporate decisions were up to Mr. Harris and I had to trust him.
Lumbermens Mortgage Corporation no longer exists. I finally heard that Mr. Harris had passed away. The company was sold and that was the end of my days in Mortgage Banking. It almost seemed like it was the end of the world.