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Len Mainiero Brought Banking Close To Home

July 10th, 2011 · 2 Comments · News and Events

Leonard Mainiero wasn’t a banker from Bridgeport. He was a Bridgeport banker. He spent a professional lifetime bringing banking closer to home, visiting city neighborhoods to encourage banking opportunities for African Americans and Latinos. It was good for business. It was good for the community. Mainiero passed away a few days ago. He was 82.

Calling hours for Len Mainiero will take place Monday from 4-8 p.m.at Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, 1209 Post Road Fairfield, CT. The funeral will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 545 Stratfield Rd. (Rte. 59), Fairfield, CT. Burial will be at Mountain Grove Cemetery.

In 1992, as part of a history project for People’s Bank, I interviewed Mainiero about his career, growing up in Bridgeport and the bank’s relationship with the city. Here is the interview in its entirely when Mainiero was an executive vice president.

The southern Italian village of Castelfranco in Miscano has a romantic relationship with Bridgeport, Connecticut. Through chain migration, most of the city’s early Italians resided on the East Side in Italianate, Victorian Gothic and Queen Anne style multi-dwelling homes built in the mid to late 19th century during P.T. Barnum’s development of the neighborhood.

The showman laid out streets, constructed homes, and lured major manufacturers to the East Side, including Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine. While many Italians followed in the footsteps of friends and relatives, others intended to make money and return to Castelfranco, Naples and Sicily. Others came, went back and even returned. Those who stayed bought homes, raised families and started businesses all up and down East Main Street and side streets; they saved their money so that they could send their children to college, an academic experience that had passed them by.

The parents of People’s Bank Executive Vice President Leonard N. Mainiero were two of the thousands of Castelfranchese who settled on Bridgeport’s East Side, a provincial community that produced former Bridgeport mayors Samuel Tedesco, Leonard Paoletta and Nicholas Panuzio. In fact more Castelfranchese live in Bridgeport than all of Castelfranco. From this tightly knit family Mainiero learned about a strong work ethic, the meaning of family, turning a college education into a successful career, and having the courage to create opportunities.

He graduated from Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, attended the University of Connecticut, where he received a bachelors degree in economics and served three years in the Army Corp Engineers where he taught a leadership program to officers in training. Then one day in 1954, he boldly walked into People’s Bank to determine what opportunities might be available. But Mainiero wasn’t about to walk in and fill out a bank application; he wanted to talk to the president.

Luckily for him, People’s soon-to-be president Samuel Hawley was accessible to eager applicants. They connected and Mainiero spent his first year at People’s in a management training program before serving in the savings, mortgage and consumer loan departments. He then moved to the branch system, working in several established branches before opening two others.

In the 1960s, a period of explosive growth, Mainiero returned to the headquarters office and was appointed advertising manager and then public relations officer. He turned a tiny operation into a full marketing department featuring sophisticated techniques that reached out to women.

“Back then, most women stayed at home, raised the kids and made the weekly trip to the bank,” says Mainiero. During those years, People’s sponsored programs such as the Daffodil Show in Brookside Shopping Center, mailed packets of flower seeds to mortgage customers, developed the Women’s Finance Forum and gave away cookbooks at branch openings. It was also the start of an era of rapid branch expansion and product diversity.

Advertisements were created to support new bank services. In one of the department’s most successful campaigns, the bank mailed letters to customers asking them to write to the state legislature so savings banks could offer checking accounts. “The response was so great, the legislature asked us to stop sending letters to customers,” says Mainiero.

But Mainiero’s greatest impact, according to Samuel Hawley, turned the bank’s self-styled “kitchen-table banking” into a huge marketing success. Mainiero personally led a team of bank employees into Bridgeport’s inner-city homes to determine the banking and financial needs of African American and Latino families. The program expanded the bank’s customer base and opened up new banking opportunities for African Americans and Latinos.

After nearly 10 years managing the marketing department, Mainiero was appointed vice president and head of the installment loan department. In 1972, as People’s was expanding throughout the state and adding new products and services, he took charge of the branch system and depositor services. A year later, he was named senior vice president and in 1980 was elected executive vice president.

He currently oversees three bank groups: Consumer Banking, including residential mortgages, credit cards, consumer credit, savings and checking products; Trust and Financial Management, including trust services, life insurance and People’s Securities, the brokerage subsidiary; and Human Resources, including recruitment, training and development.

He talked about his career at People’s during an interview in his bank office on the afternoon of October 7, 1992.

Q: Tell us about Bridgeport in 1954, the year you were hired by the bank?

A: In ’54 Bridgeport was beginning to be in transition, not dramatic. The Korean War was just over. It was starting to show the signs of pain that Bridgeport had the capacity to show in economic cycles and right after the Korean War things got tight, a recession of sorts. The downtown was very lively, still the center of activity.

There was an obvious need for rejuvenation and renovation in the inner city, in the downtown and the neighborhoods were still pretty defined, whether it was the North End, the East Side or the West End or Black Rock or Brooklawn, still very much a city of neighborhoods where people identified with a neighborhood, sometimes more with the neighborhood than the city. A lot of ethnic orientation, still very pronounced, but you could see that the forces were obviously changing. Politics were changing. I’ve forgotten when McLevy finally got voted out.

Q: He was still in until ’57 when Sam Tedesco was elected.

A: Because I had memories of McLevy at Van Dyke’s coffee stand sitting there and people would go in and have coffee and he’d be there and chat with him and look forward to chatting with people. I remember that vividly. Miller Ross’s newsstand was on the corner and it was a city that I wanted to come home to. I had been in the service in Virginia. I had married, we thought a lot about doing other things. I remember saying that if I’m ever going to go to New York, now’s the time to do it and maybe I ought to try it once to see if I’ve really got it. Can I make it in the big time and I came close but didn’t do it and started to interview around town. I was pretty convinced that I would not work for anybody long.

I really wanted to be in my own business but that I needed some background. I needed some more training, some more business experience so that I could go into business for myself. I really wanted to work for myself. That was my dream, to have my own company and I joined the bank and after about a year, year and a half I really got hooked.

Q: What was your introduction to the bank?

A: I interviewed with Hawley directly. I walked in and there was a guy there. I said I’d like to see the president of the bank and he said well, do you have an appointment? I said no. He said why do you want to see him. I said I’m interested in a career in banking and I thought I’d talk to him. And he said well, we have some other people here you could talk to and I said no, if he’s available, I’d like to talk to him. Hawley saw me. And that impressed me. It was bold you know, I knew it was bold. I had interviewed for almost six weeks and got kind of tired of human resources types. I wanted to talk to somebody I thought had decision-making power and wasn’t a functionary and really might be interested in my story of where I wanted to go. We had a nice chat.

Q: How old were you?

A: I was 24. I had one child, needed to get busy and get on with it and so we talked about a training program and he said you know we don’t really have a management training program but we have a program where we might be able to give you the equivalency by training you in different sections and so forth and so on and I will stay close to you. I guess it was the second interview that I got hired and in many ways my career got very directly tied to Sam Hawley and he became very much my mentor and before I knew it he was having quite a profound influence on my life even though I didn’t know it. It was a rich experience and I worked for him for a good part of my life.

Q: How did the influence rub off?

A: It was more what he did and how he thought and what programs he was interested in and how he wanted the public handled. How he handled employees. He in very many ways reflected a very strong culture in the bank. The form of management didn’t matter as much as the mission and the culture and the intention of the company. I remember reading things when I was early in the bank and they became an aggressive mortgage lender right after WWII because the Vets came home and they needed housing, the GI bill was out and there was GI housing available and they were the first bank in the state to make a GI loan.

They always had this great sense of doing what was appropriate, what was right and what was good business. It was always very interesting, the connections were always very interesting. The bank had a series of firsts whether it was financing housing for veterans, moving to the suburbs, very aggressively in financing homes in the suburbs.

Q: When did you decide on a career here?

A: It was a couple of years. I remember I had been here, I was well into my second year and I got an offer from a local radio station. I was still formulating what I was going to do with my life and how I was going to do it. It was to be an account executive and to call on accounts. He thought that I could be persuasive and it was a very attractive offer. More than twice what I was making in the bank.

Q: What were you doing for the bank?

A: I just had come out of the training program and I was working in the loan department which was making small loans, it was very small. We thought it was big in those days but looking back it was quite small but it was important. Even then it was the handling of the customer, the customers rights, learning the business well and you learned it by doing. You learned it with someone teaching you and being responsible for you and luckily knowing when to release you and let you do it yourself.

Q: Did you have a burning ambition for a specific task or position?

A: My original interests were to get into something that was real estate related because I thought that was going to be an exciting business at that time. If I had gone into business myself, I think I would have gone into something that was real estate related. I did have a small interest, had a few courses in it in college and it interested me more than some other subjects and so I had always been kind of interested in the mortgage department and real estate business. But my career did not go that way. I went out to the branches and went into marketing.

Q: You reached a point where you decided on a career at People’s. Did it occur to you that banking was a Yankee industry unaccustomed to executives of Italian background?

A: Well, the leadership of the bank was very much establishment, not only this bank but in most banks, it was clearly obvious to me that this bank was aggressive in trying to open up the bank in its entirety. I mean you know their customers were the composition of the city and it was an essentially Bridgeport bank. It was not at that time a Fairfield County bank although it did some mortgage lending throughout the county. But our customers were all of the ethnic groups. I can remember there was a time when I was a young guy in the bank that if someone came in and could not speak English, they had a director of people who could speak different languages.

There were 20 languages that were known to the customers. There was Hungarian, Italian, Russian, all of the nationalities that you would see that you would know from Bridgeport and they would get that person to deal with that, to serve that customer and serve that customer well. It was not patronizing. We were very sensitive about those things and that’s what kind of helped me. It sounds kind of corny but it was real because I wanted to make a lot of money. I didn’t want to make $100 a week. I wanted to learn, go into my own business and build it and become rich. I was chasing the dream.

Q: What did your dad do?

A: My father had worked in a factory most of his life, planned well enough to be able to get out of the factory, buy a business, a small store, a liquor store.

Q: East Side?

A: East side. Bought the house before he bought the business and spent 30 years running that store and dealing in a very modest way with real estate on the side. He was an achiever, had a heavy, heavy emphasis on achievement, on education. I had four sisters, they all went to college, I went to college. He believed in education, the American dream. Well, luckily he had very bright daughters who had the capacity to be extraordinary students, not just good students, extraordinary students and so they were academically oriented and of course that pleased him. Never have to owe anybody. Not very different than most of the immigrants, whether they were Italian or Russian or German, kids I grew up with, they were all chasing the same dream.

Q: Italian Americans have through the assimilation process been very, very successful in recent years, graduating to executive level positions. You were one of the first Italian Americans in banking to reach such a level. Is that something you thought about.

A: Yeah, I thought about it and it always added a sense of responsibility because when it looked to me like there was going to be ways to move and I was being encouraged by Sam and a lot of challenges, a lot of things that were very rewarding, I was going to make damn sure that I wasn’t going to be a flop or embarrassing, especially for myself and my family so it added a lot more responsibility I think than a lot of other people had but certainly not anymore than, different, just a different dimension.

It’s just that it’s available but I can’t afford to fail, too much is riding on this, but it was fine and I was feeling rewarded, challenged and appreciated. Throughout my whole early career I felt very appreciated.

Q: By the 1960s one of your most important functions was marketing the bank. You had taken over the marketing and advertising function …

A: It was always an interest of mine. I think I did know that I had kind of a promotional nature, that I liked to create programs and things and probably was more creative than I ever really realized until I had an opportunity so it got to be kind of fun to see what the bank needed to do and what we needed to do to get there and of course marketing was a nice way to make some dreams and talk to people and understand what the banking services were and what they could be. And of course Hawley’s great appetite to expand and serve and be a life force. I had written two or three papers recommending certain things that I thought the bank could do and spent a lot of time on it. I remember one of them in particular, I had written most of it out and I had a sister who was extraordinarily gifted in writing and English and I had her help me dress it up and boy it was pretty good. It got quite a bit of attention.

Q: Was it about advertising, a promotion?

A: I was recommending we go into a school savings program that was very different than any other school savings program ever, well I thought it was different, than had ever been introduced.

Q: Was that implemented?

A: We tried it and for the reasons why so many school savings programs don’t work, this one did not. It worked but it wasn’t long term. But I was very young. The environment was an environment of ideas so it was easy to pick them up and put them together and Hawley had a lot of ideas. He wanted us all to think, so it was fun I mean because we had somebody who was so ready to go and so appreciative and willing to try. Very disposed to trying. Not a stuffy approach to the marketplace but fairly aggressive so you know it was interesting.

Q: What was the most important part of marketing and promoting People’s Bank in the mid ’60s?

A: Oh, I think it was an easy bank to promote because it had so much going for it and it was in those days generally ahead of the competition and in most circumstances substantively ahead and so it had a vitality to it. It was an aggressive spender of advertising dollars and willing to promote and was not conservative as a lot of banks were about promotion.

Q: You came up with your share of slogans?

A: Slogans, programs, packages, promotions, giveaways, all of those things, anything we could think of. Opening branches that was the big thing, so every time we opened a branch we had a big extravaganza.

Q: As head of advertising and marketing back then, what kind of support staff did you have?

A: Starting with a woman that Hawley had hired to be part of the marketing department who had been a buyer at the Howland’s department store and had a great sense for market and for what we were looking for, better appreciation of how to go after or how to serve the women who were doing the banking because even then over 60 percent of the banking was done by the women. They came in and did the transaction and so forth and so on, now it’s even more so. And again, Hawley had a great insight and took it to things like designing branches that the woman patronized, how we greeted, how we served, how we extended and so then this woman that we hired had a good orientation because she had been a buyer of women’s fashions and managed a department at the Howland’s company, had a retail sense, not only a sense for the women’s market but also a retail sense so that got kind of exciting.

We had a lot of fun and then we expanded it to market research and all of the disciplines that are pretty typical. First, I got the marketing job and within two months I was off to a marketing program in Chicago to take a course in bank marketing. That was a three-week program so it’s that kind of stuff that made it an aggressive program. It wasn’t just saying oh, we’re going to have a marketing program, work with the advertising agency and things of that sort, because even in those days we had an advertising agency and a pretty good one.

Q: Was it a New York City one?

A: Yeah, we had one out of Boston and then one out of New York. We had a pretty aggressive program, pretty good stuff. It was fun and then the bank was expanding in terms of different kinds of services and having things that we could do, and they were building branches, adding branches, going to the suburbs and all of the dynamic changes in the social area were really starting to accelerate.

Q: In addition to women, Sam Hawley credits you with being a key figure in marketing the bank to Latino and African American families.

A: One of the things that started to evolve was that we had a concern that some blacks and some of the Hispanics and some of the others that were part of the new immigration were not feeling comfortable in the bank. Not just that there seemed to be an imagined barrier, it may have been real, but anyway they saw a barrier and then we were hearing stories that instead of coming to the bank and making a $200 or $500 personal loan they got involved in neighborhood loan sharks or they would go to small loan companies and pay 20 or 30 percent when many of them were qualified by every definition.

They worked, they had reasonable credit, they had the capacity to pay. They could borrow that same $500 at 12 percent rather than 28 percent or paying a loan shark which was also happening in the neighborhoods. So we started to say how will we extend. We tried a variety of approaches. We tried to develop them and never moved on them because they all on paper just didn’t hold out. They didn’t have excitement. They weren’t real. They were patronizing and then we started to interview blacks and Hispanics. It was also the time that we began to hire blacks and Hispanics much more aggressively. I can remember when the first black was hired in the bank, not the first but in many ways the first. It was an affirmative outreach program and so we talked with some working blacks and Hispanics, talked to some black leadership, talked to some black ministers and Hispanic, talked to some of their political leaders. And it was fairly obvious that it was not just another immigrant group.

It was different, different needs, different disadvantages. They were concentrated in neighborhoods. So we decided that we would have an outreach program and instead of trying to get them to come to us, we would go to them. We would go to their neighborhood and to their home and we would not tell them what we could do for them but we would tell them that we wanted their business and we treated them, the approach was to treat them exactly as you would anybody else. That you are a customer, we can make money on you but it’s important for us to serve you and we’d love to tell you about some of the things that you can do with us because we’d like you to bank there. And that was essentially the approach. How did we do it?

We hired people indigenous to the neighborhood, either black or Hispanic who had some leadership quotient and as we poked around the neighborhood, their name would come up again and again or they’d be recommended to us and we’d go after them and talk to them and we’d pay them by the hour and we trained them and had them in the bank for about a month. They all had full time jobs and they would go out in the evening and ring doorbells. They’d have a business card which they liked with our name on it and their name on it. Most of them, what would they do? They’d say well, come in. And where did they invite you into, but the kitchen. And where did you sit, but at the kitchen table.

And, so, it kind of got to be kitchen table banking and we realized that was the whole deal. So we had one and then we hired another and we got up to eight who worked in different neighborhoods and they would write up a call report, they would refer people to the local branch and then they would call the branch and say Jose Goncalves is coming in, or Peter Smith, or they would talk to people about second mortgages because some of them bought a house and the only way to buy, well not the only way, but somebody talked them into a second mortgage, some at very high rates, some that were taken back by the seller and some we refinanced out of the second mortgage reduced their interest costs, reduced their payments, made it possible for them to not only have the house but to save money. And we explained that and did it and it was a variety of those things that, we called on 12,000 customers.

Q: Over what period?

A: Over 30 months. Three of the people got elected aldermen in their neighborhoods. That’s banking. They became neighborhood leaders because they had something. But we did public housing. We did Beardsley Terrace. We had meetings with small groups in the evening. I went to many of them myself to get a real sense of the person, and everyone of the eight people that we hired, one of us went out with them periodically just as a sales manager would go out with a sales person to see how it was going and what they were talking, of course they usually converted to Spanish pretty quickly if you were in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Q: From making People’s Bank housecalls, political careers sprouted?

A: Sure, because they got to be known and then people would call them, and they would arrange for them to get a loan and then they found out that they were welcome and there were no hitches and word started to get out. Because there were charges of discrimination where people would be saying, you know, don’t go to a bank. You can’t get a mortgage. You can’t get a loan. And we were out to try to destroy that myth. We were anxious to serve that market and it was a good market. We didn’t put out thousands of loans for Hispanics or blacks. It got to be more of an outreach that became communication that gave people some encouragement to come and then we did a few things with social agencies.

Q: Were you also in charge of corporate contributions?

A: No, I could make recommendations. That was, we all were aware of what we were supporting, and made recommendations but no I did not have responsibility there. As I recall, Hawley had the responsibility for the charitable contributions. He was the one who got all excited about a Bridgeport Area Foundation, the idea was that if we ever had some tough years and weren’t able to keep up that level of giving, then the support would come from the foundation so that the initiative that we were interested in or that we thought were important would still be supported.

He was way ahead of his time. When he talks simplistically, he’s very profound. This is a guy who graduated from Yale and Harvard Business School and if you go back that far there were not too many other business school graduates around. Very well trained and a good guy. Just had superb instinct and a vision, I mean, every day he was excited and he was fun to work with. I mean you worked with exciting people who were excited and he was fun to work with.

And he surrounded himself with bright people. He started to put together a very aggressive team. He had on the board the first Jew, the first black, the first Catholic all in my time, all in my lifetime. I saw it happen and those were the things that made me believe. I have plenty of, like most of us, you’re an observer and you’re saying will this all hold together, is this for real and most of it was for real.

Q: And at one point you became a believer in the bank’s philosophy?

A: Oh, I became a believer and they never tried to sell me. It was just very obvious. For instance, the bank had the reputation of paying bank employees much better than any other bank in town, always had that reputation, not so now because it’s kind of become even, equalized like most everything. So they’d get the better people because the word was out. People’s pays better and you will probably have a better future and they started promoting from within. People realized they had opportunities. This sounds like this was so long ago like this was so pioneering. It’s not that long ago. Forty years.

Q: It was also your responsibility to promote and market the bank during its explosive period in the 1970s. You went to Hartford to testify at legislative hearings, what was that like?

A: We tried to get checking powers and we went there every year. We got expansions on installment loans which was initially where we’d loan $1,000 to a household. Can you imagine that? And these were state laws. But savings banks were new at it and we’d get that increased and Hawley always had a big long agenda of things we were going to do, change, expand the limits on life insurance. Some were not popular causes. We were opposed plenty. I can remember that there were 2,000 insurance agents that came out against expanding the limits on savings bank life insurance. It was lonely up in the state capitol.

Q: While a lot of banking institutions were concerned about getting soiled by the political process, Sam Hawley, Nick Goodspeed and yourself decided that if things were going to change, you had to get involved.

A: Absolutely. And it was encouraged. I can remember the first time strong announcements were made to get involved, get involved any way you want, get involved in it. But you have to want to. Nobody’s telling you to. Get involved in the precinct, get involved in the town committee, get involved in your neighborhood but get involved so we get the kind of government that we deserve. It sounds kind of patronizing but it was true and so it was encouraged. And then Hawley announced that the board had approved that if anybody ran for political office or the state legislature, that was one of the things, part of it was to make sure that we had somewhat of a voice up there, that anybody who got elected for instance to the state legislature whether they were Republican or Democrat and there was no pre-ordained party, whatever, that your salary was guaranteed and made whole.

So if you were there six months a year and if they paid you $2,000, you would subtract the $2,000 from what you would normally get but you would be made whole, plus you were subject for annual reviews to get a raise every year. It was a strong statement that you would not be a part-time employee or you would be an employee that had every right that every other employee had even though you may be away three months of the year. And I think the first year after that announcement a person ran as a Democrat for the state legislature and a Republican, both from the bank.

Q: As the bank’s marketing maven you were experiencing branch explosions. Now you had to go into various communities whether it was Fairfield, Greenwich, Trumbull or Monroe, did you have specific marketing and advertising campaigns for each town?

A: George Longstreth who was Hawley’s executive VP really started the branch system under Hawley’s tutelage and direction and I picked it up when he retired and I became, had the responsibility for marketing in all the branches. None of the branches were to look the same and there was the disposition that branches were to pick up the personality of the town and so we wouldn’t think of putting a colonial branch in a section that was not colonial, it was integrated with the neighborhood. Many of them went into shopping centers where people went food shopping. That used to be one of the requirements, be close to a food store.

Traffic, so you get there when they’re shopping and they’ve got some banking to do at that point and yet the Madison Avenue branch was interesting because the idea there was not to just build a branch but to try and build a small center. We tried to build a little neighborhood park, a minipark where people could eat, we put benches there for them to, and it was terribly modern and that was a new statement. We brought adjacent property and developed a small office building, an adjoining building and we were trying to build something brand new and dramatically new in that neighborhood that we hoped would become an impetus for aggressive neighborhood development. It provided a little but not nearly as much as we had thought it was going to.

So we wanted branches to be very much of that town of that community not a Bridgeport bank, you know, creating a branch. We wanted it to be much more than that and so the developments, the promotions were very much into the neighborhood. I remember that Hawley said we had opened a branch in Westport and it was very successful and we had branches in Fairfield which had been arranged because we were locked out of Fairfield by state law. In those days you couldn’t branch if there was a neighborhood bank so we merged with that bank and then we opened another branch in Fairfield and that opened all of Fairfield to all of the savings banks because up until that time there was one little savings bank in Fairfield. So it’s those times that proved exciting.

King Cole, in its early days of glory and promotion, was an exciting store. We opened right next door. It was those kinds of things. Being willing to make the statement, take the risk.

Q: Would your branch managers be the community relations person?

A: We encouraged them to think of themselves as a bank president in that town or that neighborhood and they were supported that way. They were given quite a bit of authority and the main office was to back them up, not to say no, but to say yes, to try and help them be effective so there was very much that disposition and it made it so easy to expand and build them because you had an integrated work force. The branch managers became very active, many of them, not all of them, were encouraged to know their community, to know their people, to be a part of it. Many of them lived in the town where the branch was opened, some did not. They had a mission, get involved, get out there, let them know who you are and what you stand for.

Q: What makes this bank work?

A: I think staying close to the customer, never getting arrogant, knowing how you want to be served yourself. It’s fairly simple. Being genuine, honoring people’s rights they deserve, treating them well whether it’s how you serve them or also how you price, how you charge, what rates you pay, it all goes into a large part of the fabric. It was just like the establishment of an important relationship and we valued that relationship and we never wanted the customer to be anything but very satisfied with what we were doing and it works. It was doing all the right things most of the time and getting caught at it. You know, the ultimate in marketing and never trying to be fast, but never like we’re too good for them. We knew we had a good reputation but we were not taken with ourselves. I think those were the things that I found exciting. Almost every day was fun. There was some accomplishment, either building branches or merging or introducing new products and things were changing very rapidly in banking. That was the beginning of the banking revolution. It’s still going on.

Q: When you’re at home with some good time, tending to your garden and rose bushes, what do you think about in relation to your contribution to the bank?

A: I had an influence in part of the bank culture and how we represented ourselves, how we served the customer, the value of the customer, the value of the employee and the rights of the employee and never taking anything for granted. They made a little fuss over me when I was here 30 or 35 years and one of the questions was a similar question and I said you know one of the things that I think about all the time that I really value because I have so many friends who have come through business with a lot of conflict and regret and sometimes bitterness, and I said you know, in my entire career, I have never been asked once, which is true, I have never been asked once or tried to be influenced to do anything against anything I’ve ever believed in. I have never been corrupted. No one has ever said, do that even though it’s not right. I mean that’s gospel, never once and I’m not a naive guy. I’ve never been embarrassed by anything the bank’s done.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Antitesto

    LG,
    Great piece, my congratulations. This guy was the type of visionary BPT needs today. No grandiose ego, just a “Get it done” attitude. This man was a builder of community & spirit. Sadly the days of integrity are gone at People’s Bank. They have become money-grubbing whores like the rest of the banking industry.

    I greatly admire his contributions to People’s Bank and the people of BPT.

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Thanks Lennie, for remembering one of Bridgeport’s own. Sam Hawley must have been quite a guy, too.

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