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XI.  Family Demands

 

The following week Steve met with Jody to get an update on his progress on business accounts.  He also wanted an update on his selection of the two assistants to work with him.

 

Jody had selected Allison McGraw and Sharon Wilson, the daughter of Pastor Wilson.  “Strange,” thought Steve, “Obviously, he sees something in them that works for the bank.  No men – only women.”

 

“Tell me,” Steve began, “I want to know more about these two – Allison and Sharon.  What is their background?”

 

Jody responded, “Mr. Johnson … I mean Steve.  There are two things about these girls that stand out.”

 

He explained, “Allison is a mastermind at researching companies and staying on top of their finances.  She will be great calling on new accounts and judging our existing accounts.”

 

Continuing, “They will be impressed that she is so knowledgeable about their business.  That will be a great benefit for us with them.”

 

He exclaimed, “Sharon can put together plans for maximizing our exposure with clients.  And her ability to portray our clients’ exposure in the community will astound you.”

 

Further, “Our commercial accounts will be overwhelmed by her and not be able to resist her charm.  She will be great at keeping our current businesses at home and getting new business.”

 

Jody confided, “And Steve, as you know, Sharon is the Pastor’s daughter.  That will be a plus as well.”

 

Steve exclaimed, “Great, obviously you have given a lot of thought to this.  They sound like two great selections.  I will look forward to your reports each week on where we are with our business clients.”

 

Steve thought to himself, “I had not even thought about how to put this kind of a program together for Lebanon.  Where do they get this?  Are schools teaching this type of marketing in the halls of higher education?”

 

His thoughts were random, “The move with Sharon as the Pastor’s daughter; who would have thought of that?  What account or company can say no to Pastor Wilson’s daughter?”  Steve was thoroughly impressed with Jody’s selections.

 

“Any word today regarding Home ReSources coming to Lebanon?” asked Steve.  “Have they released any information?”

 

“Yes, Home ReSources is coming and it looks like they will be shooting for an opening the beginning of next year.  They have to get their building completed first.”

 

Explaining, “They have an advance team here to arrange interim financing for the building.  With their company background and methods; our bank along with Junior will be heavy in the running for their business.”

 

Jody continued, “I have already had an advance meeting with them.  Junior was in attendance as well.  We stand up stronger than he does at the moment due to our longevity, but from what I hear – Junior will be working incentives to get the business.”

 

Again, Jody confided, “I have a friend on the inside that is part of the Home ReSources team.  We have shared a couple of drinks at the club and he will keep me informed what Junior does.  That will give us an opportunity to counter his offer.”

 

Jody explained, “We have our own incentives that work as well if not better.  You know the influence you have with the City Council in getting tax incentives for companies.  Home ReSources loves tax incentives.  I don’t think Junior will be able to do that.”

 

He declared, “These are corporate men and personal incentives are not their part of their forte.  It is what the company gets that is important for them.  Just wait until we get to the nitty-gritty and I bring in Allison and Sharon with me.  Add that to your ability to secure tax incentives through the City Council – it should be a slam dunk.”

 

Jody instructed, “You do need to use your influence and convince the City Council that we need this business in Lebanon if we are to be a growing community.  The only incentives, we can offer past our interest rates will be what you can do with the council.”

 

He explained, “If Junior does not get to them personally, which I don’t think he can, I think we are in.  And who gets the interim financing will get the account after they open.”

 

Recounting, “Regarding Ray Miller at Ford, and David Leland, with the poultry plant – I am getting my feet on the ground with them.”

 

He explained, “I’ve met with both and our meetings have been pleasant enough, but you know Junior has gotten to them with his stock incentives.”

 

Jody declared, “But with Allison and Sharon, I still have an ace up my sleeve.  It could get interesting.”

 

He continued, “You told me that you have talked to Carl at the lumber mill and I plan to leave that where it is at the moment.  He knows he can come back at any time and that is what we want them to know.”

 

He exclaimed, “I have meetings set up with the rest of the commercial board members to keep them on track with us.  Thus far, I have not heard any murmurings of anyone wanting to pull out, or switch any part of their accounts to Junior.”

 

Jody told Steve, “Junior is going to be a major player here in Lebanon.  That is if for no other reason, than his personal incentives which as you know can be unethical.  In some circles they could be considered a conflict of interest to the point of being criminal.”

 

Jody paused for a moment to let his report sink in with Steve.  As he waited for Steve to respond he thought, “I know that I have touched a sensitive area for Steve.  I just accused Junior of not be using the best banking practices to accomplish his goals”

 

He knew the conclusion, “Steve has to see that we might not be playing on a level field.  That is especially, if Junior keeps using these stock maneuvers to lure accounts away.”

 

Steve leaned forward on his desk, “Jody, if it ever gets out what Junior is doing, I do not want it to come from this bank – you or anyone connected with this bank.  I want our hands clean and working with a clear conscience based on our principles not his.”

 

Steve relented, “I agree with you that it will probably be ‘when’ and not ‘if’ that a day of reckoning might come.  And should it come; I want it to come from his business associates; his board; or the banking commission – not us.”

 

He explained, “I do not want to face my family and know that I have done anything to bring him down.  Junior, Sam, and their families are all family – not necessarily banking families anymore – but families still in life.”

 

He continued, “When or if his bank fails – should it fail – I want it known it was because of his banking methods.  I cannot us have us running and stirring up any controversy.”

 

Steve calculated, “Who knows, he may very well be successful and get away with all of this.  It will not be the first time banks have gone against the commission and survived.  Sometimes they become very successful.”

 

Steve finished, “You are doing a great job, Jody, keep up the good work.  Stay on sound ground.  You have a great team and I look forward to great results from all of you.”

 

Sending him on, “Keep me informed on that advance team with Home ReSources?  No pressure mind you; but we could turn this into a Senior Vice President position sooner than later.”

 

Jody nodded his head in approval, smiled knowingly with a sense of accomplishment.  He went back to this desk.

 

He had a meeting scheduled that afternoon with Allison and Sharon to discuss their strategies for the commercial accounts.  There some proposals he wanted to review before their meeting.

 

Steve sat there at his desk in total bewilderment.  “For so many years,” he thought, “I have become mellow in the banking business.”

 

He reminisced “Every year the same old loans; the same old ideas; and the same old banking methods we’ve always used.  After all we were the only bank in town and it was a family business.  Working with Dad, Sam and then Junior; we were all family.”

 

He thought, “How accountable do you hold family members that you will not, and cannot fire for non-performance.  Look at Sam, in reality, he should have been gone years ago, but do you think Dad would fire his first-born son?”

 

His mind was jumping with new enthusiasm, “Working with Jody – this seems like a brand new ball game.  These people are not only accountable to me but want to be accepted by me.”

 

Steve was excited, “Jody, Allison, and Sharon want to succeed.  They want to go out and make the bank better.  It was a joy to see the attitude of these young people.”

 

Steve made a mental note to himself to push the tax incentives with Tom Jacobs, the mayor.  He contemplated to himself, “Tom will go along with the incentives as this is pretty much standard for all major players coming into Lebanon.”

 

His usual plan of action, “I shoot for 7 years and he gives me 5 years.  It’s the game we have always played.  He gets what he wants and I get what I wanted in the first place which was 5 years.  Plus Tom would go along with me using my influence to get the incentives through the council.”

 

He could not wait to tell Sandra what was going on.  He picked up the phone to give her a call.  Seems every time something new happens and he is part of it – he has to share it immediately with Sandra.

 

After all – apart from John and Sarah who are off in school – she is all the family he can talk to in Lebanon.  Junior and Sam had seen to that.

 

Junior was getting his office established in the double-wide.  It was going to be his home for a couple of months as construction crews finished the new building.

 

Clyde Bonner, one of his investors, was due to come over. “I wonder what he has on his mind,” pondered Junior.”

 

“He indicated he had an interest in the new Home ReSources and wanted to know how he could get in on the new Home ReSources business,” Junior thought.

 

Junior calculated, “Clyde is not going to get very much business from them with his feed mills unless they sell grain to farmers.  He would have to put his feed on their lot on consignment.”

 

He considered, “Working the grain market would give him an inroad with the farmers in the area.  Maybe he wants to get in on the ground floor and look at other items of interest such as lumber products.”

 

“Clyde has an ear for business beyond the feed mill.  With his millions; he can invest heavily in them especially if he thinks he will see a proper return,” he thought.

 

Junior wondered about Clyde’s relationship with Carl, “He has some kind of a hold on Carl at the lumber mill.  It might be that angle to get in the middle between the mill and Home ReSources.

 

“Well, I am sure I will find out when he gets here,” mused Junior.  “Clyde is not going to leave any stones unturned.”

 

The sound of a car horn came from outside the building.  Carolyn went to the door and greeted Clyde as he came in.  “Good morning, Mr. Bonner.  We were expecting you.  Would you like a cup of coffee?  We have coffee, water and soft drinks.”

 

“Nothing heavier,” laughed Clyde, “it has got to be after five somewhere in the world.  I need a drink.”

 

“Oh, I leave that up to Mr. Johnson.  I am sure he can accommodate you,” answered Carolyn.

 

As she started to announce Clyde, he just stormed past her into Junior’s office.  “Hey, what’s up?  Fix me a drink with about two fingers of scotch solid with no ice.”

 

Junior opened his liquor cabinet containing various alcohol beverages.  He pulled a bottle of scotch from the shelf.

 

“Here we go,” he said as he poured the scotch into a glass from his desk drawer.  He poured one for himself as well.

 

Junior turned keeping his glass and handing Clyde his drink.  They toasted each other and to the day as they took their first swallow.

 

Junior opened up first, “What is going on with you this bright and beautiful day?  What’s on your mind?”

 

“Look,” began Clyde, “This Home ReSources project is going to take more than you running in there and offering them special rates on the interim financing.”

 

“I have seen this happen many times across the country,” Clyde continued.  “You need more than interest rates to get their business.  You have got to promise them something.  What about tax incentives for the business for the next five years, for example?”

 

Continuing before Junior could answer, Clyde asked, “Do you have the pull to help them get that with the City Council?  I say no.”

 

He explained, “Your uncle was not brought in on a turnip truck last night.  He will be able to do that in a heartbeat with the mayor and get the council’s blessing.”

 

He figured, “The mayor and council are in his back pocket to help him get the Home ReSources account.  So … since you can’t – and we can easily assume you can’t and he can – we need to counter with something better.”

 

Clyde revealed a plan, “Cash is the best.  But we don’t want to put cash in anyone’s hand unless that is the last arrow in the quiver.”

 

Further, “Your stock, however, is for all practical purposes nothing but paper.  There is no real value until you get up and running.”

 

Acknowledging, “That is going to take some time, but with all of us – me, Ray, David, and Carl with the mill – endorsing our support behind you, we can make them believe that you are a full fledge bank now.  And will only grow from this day forward.”

 

“That worthless stock will become valuable over night so to speak,” he calculated.  “If you offer the main man your now worthless stock to go with your bank – he might just do it.”

 

Clyde laid it out, “You can promise him 500 shares of stock in the bank if he can sway the business your way.  I think he would go for it.  Any reasonable person would.”

 

Clyde knew in the back of his mind that he could use that scam for future ventures.  Much like his getting the pictures of Carl and others he had on file in his office.

 

  His plan which he did not share with Junior, “I will use cell phones for audio taping and pictures.  He would then have the Home ReSources manager in his pocket for future needs.”

 

“Home ReSources would have to do business with me on the lumber products that I get from the mill.  Or I could – you know – divulge to the right people what I know,” he formulated in his mind.

 

“There it was,” thought Junior.  “Is this what I have gotten myself into with Clyde?  Am I to become a successful banker on the backs of those who get scammed?”

 

Junior worked diligently trying to not look shocked at Clyde’s proposal.  Knowing at the same time he did not accept it on its full assessment.

 

All kinds of thoughts were running through Junior’s mind, “Uncle Steve told me about this man and the way he gets his millions.  Now I have allowed the devil to get into my bank with his money.  He wants to control of the bank.”

 

Junior replied openly, “I have heard that these Home ReSources people are straight shooters.  They don’t go for any monkey business.”

 

Informing Clyde, “They even have internal affairs departments for just this kind of shenanigans.  Assuming that to be true, we could get shot out before the gate even opens if we try that.”

 

Junior explained, “I have had a preliminary meeting with the advance team already.  Uncle Steve sent his new team over.  Jody Carmichael, who worked with me at Community represented his bank.”

 

“Jody was quite impressive with his presentation.  I don’t think I ever knew he had that ability when I was working for Uncle Steve.  Now he blossoms with me gone,” stated Junior.

 

He continued, “The advance team seemed to listen more to him than to me.  He did not offer any tax incentives.  Why don’t we hold back the under-the-table ideas until they are needed?”

 

Clyde stood up, “Young man you have a lot more to learn about banking than your Granddaddy or your Uncle Steve ever taught you.  These are not underhanded ideas or proposals; these are business principles the way business runs today.”

 

Clyde declared, “You get with it or you get out.  I, personally, don’t think you have an option of getting out.  You have gone too far to get this far.”

 

“Think it over,” said Clyde.  “We have time to make up our minds.  Just remember I am not talking about just your banking, I am talking about my interest here that is as well beyond your banking.”

 

As Clyde had stormed in, he took the last swallow of scotch, slammed the glass on the table, and stormed out.  Carolyn was trying to wish him a great day, but he left without speaking to her.

 

Junior did not want to talk to anyone at this point.  He needed to cleanse his mind.  He closed the door, and sat down at his desk. 

 

Reflecting on the meeting with Clyde, “If I don’t go along with him, he can hurt the bank by pulling his money.  That’s even though I told him in the beginning it was an initial stock option purchase.”

 

“He was given stock certificates for his investment.  Yet,” thought Junior, “I don’t think he thinks that his money belongs to the bank.”

 

Junior lamented, “If I do go along with him, it is going against what I want to do in banking.  I wanted a pure and simple new approach to banking and Clyde is changing it to a dirty tricks back room proposition that could very easily turn into criminal activity.”

 

Junior rationalized, “When you think about it though, if the head of the team accepts the stock option as a counter for the tax incentives that Uncle Steve can get, does that make me a bad person for trying to compete on a level playing field with stock options.”

 

He figured, “After all, it is that ‘after stuff’ Clyde talked about when he wants the lumber business that is unethical if not criminal.  Not what I do.”

 

“I may have to give this more thought,” Junior rationalized.  “Clyde is right, I may have to grow up in the banking business faster than I considered.”

 

The next meeting with Home ReSources is when they would individually introduce their plans for the interim financing.  It would be a sink or swim meeting.

 

Junior surmised, “If any stock offers were to be made, I am going to tell Clyde he has to make them and it will come from his stock.  I cannot be involved with this from the bank’s standpoint.”

 

Again, he reasoned, “I will inform Clyde that if I have to make the offer then it would have to be done publicly.  Just like it would be with Uncle Steve and the tax incentives he arranges through City Hall.”

 

Junior fabricated in his mind, “After all, Clyde has 1,000 shares.  He can do with his stock as he suggested with the head of the team – personally – apart from Home ReSources knowledge or the bank.”

 

He reasoned, “If he wanted, Clyde could do it only with a guarantee that the Home ReSources manager would bring the account to his bank.  The stock value would go up and Clyde would win with the increased value.”

 

Junior surmised, “It would work and be legal for me as an innocent player.  I could claim that I did not know what Clyde is doing.”

 

Junior felt deflated however, “Goodness, I feel like I am going through Banking 101 all over again with a different twist – the Clyde Bonner twists.”

 

He had to get out of the office while he continued to mull this plan over in his mind.  This was just too much to contend with at the moment.

 

He told Carolyn, he was going to the club and that she could call him on his cell if she needed him.  “A drink with friends,” thought Junior, “would feel like a cleansing agent after meeting with Clyde.”

 

Jody, Allison, and Sharon put their Home ReSources plan together.  Jody went over the plan with Steve to bring him up to date and to get his confirmation on the tax incentives from the City Council.

 

He began, “Steve, I have a meeting set with the advance team from Home ReSources for Wednesday noon.  I am going to meet with them here at the bank in the conference room.”

 

He explained, “It will give us privacy and we can cater the lunch.  Allison and Sharon will be with me.”

 

Jody told Steve, “I did meet with my friend on the advance team last Friday evening after work.  He told me that Junior has not offered any kind of incentives to get the business as of yet.”

 

“Of course no one has made a presentation yet either,” continued Jody, “but I thought Junior might try a personal meeting individually to get in sooner than later.  However, so far nothing from him which is good.”

 

Jody needed Steve’s confirmation on the tax incentives, “I am assuming you have a tentative approval for the tax incentives from the City Council?  That will be a strong incentive in our favor.”

 

Steve interjected, “Yes, I have talked to the mayor and he has assured me that we can get 5 years for them but it will not be made public until the decision is made with us as the major player.”

 

“As a matter of fact their getting the tax incentives will be strictly on my influence with the council.  It will only happen officially after they agree to come to Lebanon and with our bank,” added Steve.

 

Well,” responded Jody, “we don’t want to present incentives as gospel until we get them on the bottom line.  I think they will understand from our past history we can pull it off for them.”

 

“We can let them know that we will promise to go to bat for them at that time.  With our influence; we can guarantee that we will stand behind that promise.”

 

He reasoned, “We have to convince Home ReSources that with your long standing and your influence in the community, you are the only one who can pull this off.  I think they will buy that.”

 

Jody went further, “The plan is to tell them we get the incentives only after we agree to terms and it is strictly between us, not written on paper.  We in turn will guarantee that without the incentives the deal will terminate.”

 

Looking intently toward Steve, Jody finished, “Of course it won’t terminate because of your influence.  You are the established bank of influence that can do it.”

 

  Steve replied, “There is no question that we can get the City Council to go along with us; so go for it.  As they say ‘tell ‘em what you have to, to sell ‘em’.”

 

Jody, a little concerned with all the information he had gathered.  Finished with, “Steve, I need to let you know what we are dealing with when it comes to Home ReSources.”

 

He began “Allison, as I told you knows how to go into a company’s background.  She can read their finances and their dirty laundry.”

 

“She has found out that they are owned by a conglomerate in the State of Washington, who owns Fine Home Improvement ReSources, Building ReSources, General Building ReSources, and American Building ReSources.  They have outlets all over the United States and Canada,” shared Jody.

 

“The conglomerate in turn is owned by a group out of China,” he explained.  “The China group has ties through their imperialists’ government.  It is the government that controls a lot of what comes down their chain of command.”

 

He related, “What that means to us is probably nothing other than that their people are straight shooters for the company.  They will not go for any under-the-table ploy.”

 

Jody caution, “For us if we get the business, we would just have to stay above board on everything.  We would need to make sure that we toe the line as we would with anyone.”

 

Jody was concerned about Junior, “On the other hand, what this means for Junior – could be trouble if they find that he wants to operate underhanded in any way.  Junior would need to be careful.”

 

He told Steve some things from their Corporate past, “I don’t think that it would happen here in the states, but it has been rumored that they have been known to make people disappear that they find working against the company.  I just feel like you ought to know these things since you are dealing with family here.”

 

Steve appreciated Jody sharing the information gained from Allison’s research.  “So noted,” declared Steve.  “Yes, I need all of that information and especially with Junior competing with us.”

 

“As young and as impulsive as he is,” said Steve, “he is subject to do a lot of things that he has not been taught.  And probably would not want to do under normal circumstances.  But that driving nature just might make him do something foolish.”

 

Steve acknowledged, “No … anytime you come across anything like that – tell me.  We might be able to keep Junior from getting hurt.”

 

“As for Home ReSources, don’t let the hierarchy of any company ever get in your way of doing business with them until such time as they start asking you to do something out of the ordinary for them.” Instructed Steve, “At that point cut bait.”

 

“And thank you for all you are doing with Allison and Sharon.  Seems you are really developing quite a team there.  Keep me informed on what happens at the meeting with Home ReSources Wednesday,” stated Steve.

 

Junior knew about Uncle Steve’s meeting with Home ReSources on Wednesday.  His meeting was set up for Thursday to get down to business with the advance team.

 

In the meantime, Junior called a meeting with Ray, David, along with Carl, and Clyde to discuss Clyde’s proposal.  He wanted to get their feelings before he met with Home ReSources.

 

“I can’t tell Carl what Clyde has in mind concerning the contract for the lumber,” figured Junior.  “That would have to be between Clyde and Carl.”

 

Junior could discuss the possibility of Clyde using some of his shares of bank stock with Jack Meacham, the team manager.  It could encourage him to join with the business leaders of Lebanon as an investment.

 

That option would not, however, counter the offer Home ReSources might get from Uncle Steve for the tax incentives.  Junior figured, “The counter offer had to be the interest rates on my loans to match the incentives if and when they come up.”

 

Junior contemplated, “I present our standard bank plan.  No way would the stock be brought up period in the discussion.  Nor would tax incentives be brought up.”

 

If it was assumed that the business might be headed toward Uncle Steve’s bank, then Junior would take a more aggressive approach with Mr. Meacham, the team manager.  He could counter the tax incentives if needed with interest rate adjustments.

 

At the meeting with the advance team on Thursday – Step One, thought Junior, “They will not make a decision, but Jack would take a few days to think about it.”  That would lead to Step Two.

 

Calculated Junior, “Step Two, I will – apart from the other members of the team – invite Jack to dinner at the club Friday evening.”

 

He carefully arranged the plan in his mind, “I will get Carl, Ray, David, and Clyde to join Jack and myself.  Jack is the decision man anyway as the others have expertise in buildings and all the other things that go to build new facilities.”

 

Knowing Jack was the man, Junior thought, “He will probably be the man to stay with the store to run the operation after the buildings were completed.  If anyone could sway the team it would be Jack with his expertise in finance.”

 

Junior decided, “This is all hinging on whether it appears that I might lose the business.  I might not even need Clyde’s stock plan.”

 

At the meeting with Ray, David, Carl, and Clyde, Junior presented the two steps – first, his plan – then second, with Clyde’s plan to the group.  They liked the idea of interest rates first then Clyde’s plan if needed.

 

It was understood that something was needed to offset the leverage of tax incentives Steve could offer.  And if stock could do it – so be it.

 

Junior said, “I’m not real sure Uncle Steve would offer the tax incentives first.  He is pretty laid back when it comes to fighting for something.  He might just have Jody present their plan and live with it good, bad or indifferent.”

 

Carl replied, “Yeah, I talked with Steve the other day when starting a new bank came to light and he was not interested in fighting for my business at all.  Even wished me well and sent me on my way.”

 

“He might have lost a lot of fight with the loss of his mom and dad.  Now with Sam gone and you gone; his fight might be gone completely,” responded Carl.

 

Ray said, “Allison and Sharon came by to see me, but they were just making a house call.  They offered nothing special although those girls are very special.”

 

“Junior, you might do well to look at getting some female loan officers,” laughed Ray.  The men joined in the laughter at Ray’s suggestion.

 

Clyde was squirming in his chair, “You guys are whistling in the wind.  We are going to have to fight or we will get snowballed right out of the park.  I know this Jody fellow and that Allison can peel the skin off a rabbit without the rabbit even knowing it.”

 

“And I don’t have to tell you that Sharon is the Pastor’s daughter,” concluded Clyde.  “They are going to be sheep in wolves clothing.”

 

Clyde continued to lambast Jody’s team, “They will present a powerful front that we are just getting in to the business and they have got decades of established banking and leadership in the community.”

 

He finished, “That is going to be hard to beat.  I’m saying we are going to have to get down and dirty.”

 

Carl stood up and said, “I am inclined to agree.  Banking is not just an order like we have at the mill where you complete the order and move on the next order.”

 

Continuing, Carl said, “Banking is forever things and you want to continue moving forward every day – same song just a new verse every day.  What we do here is going to have an effect on our investment with Junior all the way down the line.”

 

You could tell that Ray and David were in agreement and that became the plan.  Rates first – stock second.

 

Junior would become aggressive in his meeting with the team.  He could let them know how badly he wanted the business and that with the leading businessmen of the city endorsing him, the bank could handle it.

 

He knew the advance team would take a few days to make their decision.  In the meantime, he would move to Step Two of his plan – set up an evening dinner with just Jack at the club for Friday evening for Carl, Ray, David, Clyde, Jack and himself.

 

At that point, they would encourage Jack that it was important for him to be a community player as much as a Corporate leader.  And he could become that through the business men of the community.

 

They could explain to him how he could be brought into the middle of the business community in Lebanon.  How it would be good for him, his family, and Home ReSources.

 

To make him really feel he was on the inside, Clyde would offer him 500 shares of his stock in Junior’s new bank.  An investment over the course of a year could become valuable.

 

That investment had all the approved state credentials and funding needed for a successful bank.  The initial value of the stock was currently valueless, but would move quickly up in great value.

 

Carl, Ray, and David each had 500 shares – Clyde’s share which stood originally at 1,000 shares – would give up 500 shares for Jack.  All then would have an equal investment in the bank.

 

With the 500 shares of stock, Jack would be a significant part of the community as a member of the 500Club.  And in just a few short months, the worthless paper would become valuable.

 

Clyde finished his idea with, “Junior, you could even tell him that with the stock as collateral, you could make a loan for any size house he might want to build or buy.  Again, I say – that is an offer a reasonable man can’t refuse.”

 

Clyde devilishly thought to himself, “What good is this paper stock anyway?  The stock is worthless and I can get back all my money anytime I want it.”

 

Clyde’s interest was in getting his hooks into Jack with the stock.  He figured it would be beneficial at some point in his business deals.  He cared less about the betterment of Lebanon.

 

“It all sounds good to me, Clyde, except for the loan using the stock as collateral,” countered Junior.  “I am going to have auditors down here every month through the end of the year.”

 

“If they see one questionable loan, especially a loan of that size, based primarily on the value of 500 shares of bank stock, they could see a conflict of interest.  I would have to watch that.”

 

“Well,” Clyde was not going to let his idea be dismissed, “Jack is going to sell a house wherever he lives now, and come to town with a boat load of cash to buy or build another one.  The loan probably would not be great anyway.”

 

“You could let him know that if Home ReSources is a customer, he can expect favorable conditions for a loan as a member of the 500Club.” again Clyde wanted to get his hook in Jack.

Clyde finished, “For you; the auditors would not question the loan.  And after the first of the year when the auditors leave, loan him back his money using the bank stock as collateral.  The bank stock will have started accumulating a handsome value by that time.”

 

Junior relented, “Yes, that could work and be far less questionable.  But all of this is contingent on our getting the business and that just might not happen even with the lucrative offers we make Jack.  I want you to know that in advance.”

 

Clyde said sternly, “Give me one dinner with this Jack.  Just me and him – and I promise you we will get his business.”

 

“No,” Junior said without realizing who he was addressing. “I want some semblance of an ethical relationship after this is over.”

 

Clyde grunted not wanting to go any further.  The conversation seemed useless, “I have got to go – anything else?”

 

The rest stood to leave except Carl who was already standing.  He turned to Junior, “I want to go over some figures with you before I go.”

 

Ray, David, and Clyde filed out of the office and left.  Carl turned to Junior and said, “Junior, I have been doing business with you through Steve for years and before him, your granddad.”

 

He lamented, “Never was I involved with anything like this in any of my banking nor did you or Steve ever ask for anything under the table.  Not once was I ever offered any kind of reason to keep my business with him.”

 

“Even the other day when Steve called, he wished me well,” relented Carl.  “He did not offer anything to get me to stay.”

 

Carl continued, “I am not comfortable with this type of relationship.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to jump ship – I can’t for reasons I can’t discuss – but you need to watch your back with Clyde.”

 

He explained, “He will draw you in and then draw you in deeper.  The first thing you know you will have to go along with everything he wants to do.”

 

Carl confided with Junior, “I was told to agree with him at this meeting before I got here – regardless of what he said.  Just watch yourself.  I wanted you to know this for your benefit.”  Carl turned to leave.

 

Junior, already standing, reached out to shake Carl’s hand.  “Carl you have been a trusted friend and I appreciate you sharing that with me.  I know that you did that with some risk from Clyde.”

 

“You,” Junior added emphatically, “need to know that Clyde is planning to become a middle man between you and Home ReSources with their lumber products.”

 

“Yeah, he has been over, and discussed it with me.  Junior, I have no choice – that is why I say I can’t discuss everything with you.  I have to go along with him – but you – you are a young man, and you do not need to get caught up in his web.”

 

He warned, “Just watch your step, Junior.”  Carl shook his hand and turned leaving the office.

 

Junior sat down at his desk and pondered what might have happened with Carl and Clyde for him to be so caught up with him.  It has to be something catastrophic.

 

Who knows, but for one thing, Junior was sure it was not ethical; probably not honest; and more probable than not – it was criminal.  “I wish there was a way to help Carl.”

 

“I will have to watch what Clyde leads me into for sure.  I don’t want to be caught up like Carl,” he thought.

 

He leaned over so he could see Carolyn, “Call Jack with Home ReSources and confirm our meeting for this Thursday if you can get him on the line.  Let me know what he says.”

 

Wednesday came and Jody was ready.  He had met with Allison and Sharon on Monday after his meeting with Steve.  They discussed their plan of action with Home ReSources.

 

Jody did not have to give Allison any instructions.  She and Sharon had already prepared a great dossier for Home ReSources to see.

 

The meeting was set for 11:00 AM to be followed by a salad and dessert luncheon served at the bank by the Silver Corral staff.  Jody saw the wisdom of concealing the meeting from the public by having it at the bank.

 

The team arrived at 10:45 and followed Sherry as she led them to the conference room where Jody, Allison and Sharon were set up.

 

As they gathered in the conference room of the bank, the advance team was introduced by Jack Meacham, the team manager.  They had met only once before in the preliminary meeting and it was necessary to reintroduce each other.

 

Jody introduced Allison and Sharon.  After shaking hands, they all sat down around the conference table at the bank.  Sherry offered pastries and drinks that anyone might want.  She hurriedly took care of their needs with great professionalism and efficiency.

 

As Sherry left them to their meeting, she closed the door.  But no sooner than she closed the door – the door opened.  Steve walked in.  “So this is the big high powered bank meeting I heard about.”

 

“Gentlemen, this is Steve Johnson, the President and Chairman of the Board of the bank,” Jody introduced Steve, “Mr. Johnson, this is Jack Meacham, the team manager.  We were just about to start our meeting.”

 

“Keep your seats, gentlemen, I just wanted to stick my head in and welcome you to Lebanon and to our bank.  I’m sure Jody and his team with Allison and Sharon will treat you well,” an enthusiastic Steve declared.

 

Jack stood and shook hands with Steve and pointed to all of the members of his team without introducing them and said, “We have received nothing but great hospitality since we have gotten to Lebanon.  We are looking forward to a great relationship here and in the community.”

 

Steve started around the table and shook hands with each member of the team and expressed his appreciation for Home ReSources letting the Community Bank quote their business.  “Win or lose, gentlemen, we welcome you here in our fair city.”

 

Turning to Jody as he approached the door, “You take good care of these men.”  Back to Jack, he said, “Again welcome.  We want to be of service to you.”  Shaking Jack’s hand again, he left the room closing the door.

 

Jody called the meeting to order.  He called on Sharon to present the basic history of the bank, its standing in the community, and its long reputation as a participant in community affairs.

 

As Sharon started, she mentioned that her dad was the Pastor in the First Baptist Church.  If any of them were in town over the weekend; they were more than  welcome to attend her church.

 

Sharon went through a litany of facts concerning the bank and its history.  She likewise was very knowledgeable with all the business leaders in Lebanon and that through the bank, they could introduce Home ReSources to the community as a commercial entity, as consumer, and as a participant in the affairs of the community.

 

There were a variety of charitable events held each year.  Most of the business community gets involved and they would be invited to participate as well.

 

Sharon concluded by saying, “The Community Bank of Lebanon is a long standing bank with a long standing history in Lebanon that can be beneficial in your becoming a long standing partner with us.”

 

The team quietly applauded her efforts and seemed impressed with her graphics.  Then Allison took the floor.  She got down to the nitty-gritty facts and figures quickly.

 

First she told them what she knew about Home ReSources, leaving out the conglomerate info as such, and especially the China connection, but their operational status nationwide.

 

She said, “You are not newcomers by any means.  We will have to sharpen our skills to meet your needs but with our long standing in banking, we not only can do it, we are prepared to do it.”

 

She related, “We have found that Home ReSources has prided themselves as an all-encompassing neighbor in every way in every community where they have outlets.  You represent the epitome of service to a community.”

 

Further, “You reach out without waiting to be asked.  Your volunteerism is welcomed and a much needed addition to help any community and we thank you for selecting Lebanon.”

 

“The Community Bank of Lebanon Tennessee wants your kind of business,” Allison stated as she opened her dossier with the facts and figures.

 

She presented the terms of an agreement for a loan in principle including a range of interest rates.  At each juncture it was mentioned by Allison, “There is a certain amount of latitude that we can make to meet Home Resources’ needs.”

 

Allison explained with the connections the bank had to see that Home ReSources was accepted well in Lebanon.  “With our bank’s blessing through the halls of city government, the commercial business establishments, and the local consumer market, we want to help you in any way we can for you to be successful in Lebanon.”

 

With that she thanked them and turned it back to Jody.  Again, they applauded her efforts as well.

 

Jack mentioned that the range of funds seemed acceptable.  The rates were consistent with their other locations.  “With the understanding that a relationship with the city could be accomplished as well.”  In the back of his mind – he was thinking tax incentives.

 

 

He did not know that Allison had researched her information online prior to the meeting.  And he also did not know that Allison had called several banks around the country doing business with Home ReSources and received their feedback as well.

 

Jody spoke at this point.  “Mr. Meacham, trust me.  If you want something done at City Hall, we are the bank that will have your back.”

 

He finished with, “Our connections are so strong that should we fail in this area – since we feel so committed to this endeavor – we would consider our agreement null and void.”

 

And with that all agreed that the final decision would be made the following Monday.  They needed the balance of the week to give consideration to the proposal.

 

Noticing that the Silver Corral staff was ready, Jody called for them to begin serving the noon lunch.  Jack leaned over to Jody and said, “Great presentation – you have a great staff here.”

 

Before his scheduled meeting on Thursday, Junior was doing due diligence in preparing his proposal for Home ReSources.  He was going over the requirements for the proposal and had determined the interest rates based on the preliminary fund ranges.

 

He knew the basic interest requirements from published reports for other institutions such as Wal-Mart and Costco when they moved into a town and he set his rates according to their standard rates.

 

Although he did not have any special publications to help him with Home ReSources, he felt that the ranges for Wal-Mart and Costco would give him a starting point.  From there, he could adjust as he felt it necessary to get the business.

 

Junior completed his figures and the compilations as required on the basic format for the proposal.  He gave them to Carolyn to put into the computer for a power point presentation.

 

Carolyn had researched how to prepare the presentation for the meeting with the advance team from Home ReSources.  She had mastered the power point presentation format.

 

And since Junior did not have a conference room, he had a choice of using the conference room at the Courtyard Marriot out by the freeway where the team was staying.  Or he could use one of the country club’s private rooms.

 

“This is a big deal,” Junior shared with Carolyn.  She noticed that he was showing signs of nervousness.

 

All the time she had worked with him at Steve’s bank, he was never nervous but instead always confident and ready to move forward.  “Guess it was because a lot was riding for him personally this time.”

 

Junior instructed, “I going to the club for a sandwich and probably find a couple of guys to play 9 holes.  I will see you in the morning and go over this proposal.  Don’t burn off the copies for the meeting until we have time to review them.”

 

“Got it,” Carolyn replied.  “I’ll call you if I have a question, but this looks pretty much straight forward.”

 

Junior left the office.  He go into his car to go to the club.

 

As he backed out of the drive-way, he avoided a back-hoe that was coming toward him with a load of dirt.  They were preparing the landscaping around the outside of the building.

 

The building was certainly coming along and would be completed hopefully within a few months.  He could not wait to get in and see how all the banking changes he wanted were going to be accepted.

 

Driving over, Junior decided on the club for his meeting with Home ReSources.  He liked the idea of the club for the meeting as opposed to the Marriott Courtyard.

 

He was better known at the club than the Courtyard.  He was also familiar with the club services and food arrangements. 

 

While having lunch at the club, he set a tentative meeting for Thursday at 11:00 AM with the facilities director.  That would give him time to cover the presentation, and then they could have lunch afterwards.

 

Junior felt that during lunch, he could get an idea how to proceed.  Their questions would lead him to understand where he was regarding his proposal.  Little interest – nothing.  Lot of interest – maybe.

 

Junior called Jack, with Home ReSources, “Mr. Meacham, I have a location for our meeting concerning my proposal for Home ReSources.  Can your team meet with me at the Lebanon Country Club Thursday at 11 AM on Thursday?”

 

“I would be happy to have you and your team to come for lunch.  We can make our presentation there and then have lunch.  They have great food.” 

 

Jack agreed to meet with him at the club.  “And then afterward,” thought Junior, “we can have a working lunch conversation regarding the proposal.”

 

Jack stated, “One of my men is pre-diabetic – can you get a sugar-free lunch for him?  We don’t want him passing out.”

 

“No problem,” said Junior.  “I will set it up for burgers, fries, drink, and dessert.  Who doesn’t like a good home-made burger?  And they have the best in town.”

 

Agreed, they hung up and Junior made a mental note to get with Carolyn to set everything up.  Especially for the pre-diabetic lunch request.

 

Wednesday before the meeting, Junior instructed Carolyn, “Check-in with the club this afternoon to make sure we have everything for tomorrow.  I don’t want even one pickle out of place for lunch,” demanded Junior.  “It has to be perfect.  I am not working on the same level as Uncle Steve.”

 

Junior knew that his Uncle Steve’s team was meeting the team on Wednesday with Jody, Allison and Sharon.  He thought, “Ray was right, I do need to find some sharp great female loan officers to dress up the place.”

 

He needed all the help he could get he thought, “I need them not just to help me, but dress up the meeting at the same time.”

 

He figured, “I can take Carolyn along to take notes and help with any accommodations for the food.  However, that is not the same as having women make these presentations to a group of men.”

 

He concluded, “Men will sometimes become aggressive with their questions if they are working with men.  Put a woman in the room, and they have a tendency to be less aggressive and gentler.”

 

“Yeah, I need some women working in the loan department when we get the building up and running.  If for nothing else, they would be great for the commercial accounts.”

 

“Carolyn is a real sharp little girl herself.  I wonder,” he thought, “if she had ever thought about getting into actual banking instead of being a secretary.  I might want to talk to her about that when we start hiring for our full staff.”

 

Thursday rolled around and Junior was ready.  He and Carolyn got to the club a little after 9:30 AM.  This was to be his first real big day in banking and he did not want any surprises to come his way.

 

“Check on the lunch and make sure they have the selections right,” instructed Junior, “Oh, and make sure they have the sugar-free selections for that one team member who is pre-diabetic.  Go over the list with the staff in the kitchen to be sure they understand everything we have ordered.”

 

Junior said, “I will check on the room to make sure it is right.”  He went to find the manager at the club and get the assignment for the room they were going to use.

 

Locating the manager and the room, he checked to see if they had enough chairs; the table arrangement for him to be at the center of the front table; and a place behind him with a TV screen on the wall for the power point presentation.

 

Everything was in place.  He put the flash drive in the computer and turned on the TV to check the equipment with the remote.  It was working as planned.  “If everything is right in the kitchen, then this should be what we are looking for,” he surmised.

 

Carolyn came back to the room from the kitchen, “Everything is set to go.  Food is as you have requested.”

 

Then Junior said to her, “All we need is for the team to arrive.  This is going to be it.”

 

Junior exclaimed, “Come on, let’s go out on the patio and get a cup of coffee and a pastry while we wait.  Did you have breakfast already?”

 

 “Yes, I had breakfast, but a Bear Claw would be good this time of the morning,” she answered.  “Can’t turn down a Bear Claw.”

 

“Great, I was so nervous this morning I could not eat what June fixed for me.  I just grabbed a cup of coffee and left for the bank,” exclaimed Junior.

 

As they walked out to the patio, Junior caught one of the waiters.  He ordered 2 Bear Claws and 2 cups of coffee.

 

“Right away, sir,” answered the waiter.  He left for the kitchen.

 

Junior found a table where you could overlook a portion of the golf course.  “What a beautiful day for a meeting in the neighborhood,” mimicking the Mr. Rogers tune of days past.

 

Carolyn laughed as the waiter came with their Bear Claws and coffee.  “A banker maybe – but a singer – NO”

 

“How about it, Carolyn – you play golf?” asked Junior.  “You look like you would be a great golfer.”

 

“My boyfriend and I have tried it a time or two,” said Carolyn. “He loves it but I am terrible at it.”

 

“I don’t even keep a score – I would be so embarrassed if anyone found out how bad I am.  Usually after Brannon gets his ball in the hole we just pick up mine and move on the next tee,” laughed Carolyn.

 

“You have been dating Brannon for quite a while now, haven’t you?” asked Junior.  “I see him come by and pick you up after work from time to time.”

 

“Well long in some people’s mind I guess,” Carolyn surmised, “He has asked me to marry him several times and we have talked about marriage.  We, probably, will one day – get married.”

 

Carolyn expressed her marital concerns, “The timing just does not seem right for us to get married.  There is everything going on around us in the world – a lot of hatred; killings; shootings; and countries at odds with each other.”

 

“What if we got married, then Brannon had to go into the military and … then he had to go to war or something?  A lot of questions,” she expressed her concerns.

 

“What?” exclaimed Junior, “Carolyn, there will never be a perfect time to get married?  What makes it perfect is that you love each other; can’t live without each other; and want to live with each other for the rest of your lives.  That it is the perfect time to get married.  Be damned what is going on around you.”

 

 Laughing at Junior’s definition of timing, Carolyn finished her Bear Claw.  She exclaimed, “With that I will go back and double check everything again.”

 

Junior saw the team arriving and declared to Carolyn as she stood, “Think about it.  Right now it is show time – here they come.”

 

Junior immediately went over and shook Jack Meacham’s hand, “I have a meeting room set up for us and lunch is on order when we need it.  They ushered the team into the private room and to seat them.

 

Prior to starting the meeting, each member selected food from the pre-arranged menu Carolyn had prepared.  This would insure that the food would be ready when the meeting concluded. 

 

Junior had done large mill inventory loans for Carl, and big loans for David buying trucks and trailers, but they were all friends.  He had known them for years.

 

Now this was Home ReSources coming from somewhere out of Lebanon to do business in Lebanon.  Here he was not the only bank that had the opportunity to help them do that.  Having to compete for the business was different.

 

Junior introduced Carolyn, “This is Carolyn, my secretary.  She will be with us to take notes for me and I will be happy to share them with you if you want.”

 

Jack introduced his team to Junior and Carolyn.  As they were getting seated, Carolyn checked with them to see if anyone wanted anything to eat or drink.

 

Junior had arranged for a platter of pastries, fruit, coffee along with water, and soft drinks to be brought to the table.  Carolyn served the requests from a couple of the members and then everyone settled in.

 

Junior thanked them for coming and for his opportunity to present his proposal to them.  He went immediately into his being a new bank, but his experience in banking went back several years.

 

It included his role as the Executive Vice President for Loan Development at his last bank prior to starting his own bank.  His experience gained there would help them with their needs.

 

Junior started his power point presentation using the architect’s graphics of the new bank building currently under construction.  He briefly described his new ideas for banking and the banking community including commercial accounts.

 

He especially laid heavy on the business parlor and his plans for giving business people a place to come; read; watch the network’s cable news; scan the papers; drink coffee; and in general enjoy the fellowship of other business people while networking with the group.

 

He also pointed to the numerous conference rooms on the drawings.  Companies would be able to use the rooms for meetings.  For example, Home ReSources might not have private rooms in their building.  They would be able to use these rooms as needed.

 

To make sure they were always available, Junior emphasized, “They would be there for the exclusive use of the banking clientele.  Home ReSources would be welcome there anytime.”

 

Junior was purposefully making an optional point concerning the availability only to clients.  In his mind, “The primary client right now is Home ReSources.”

 

Junior explained,  “I have the backing of the more prominent leaders in our community such as the lumber mill, the Ford dealership; the feed mill distributorship; and the poultry processing plant.”

 

He pointed out, “These companies represent 60% of the business community with jobs, and economic growth.  They are the leading edge when it comes to opportunities in Lebanon.”

 

He continued, “All of these men serve on my board and have extensive knowledge of business in this area.  They would be instrumental in introducing Home ReSources to the neighborhood.”

 

One of the team members interrupted and asked, “Home ReSources is known for its brand.  How can your new bank help Home ReSources become better known?”

 

“First, apart from the business leaders who serve on my board and with me – simply stated,” Junior declared and continued, “we have customers who want to do home remodeling all the time.  We send them to you.”

 

He explained, “They go to building contractors to find out the requirements for the necessary products for remodeling.  Then they come to us for a loan to buy those products.”

 

Continuing, “We could easily steer them to you for your products.  We are not that far from Nashville and there you have Lowe’s Home Improvement which competes for the same customers you will be seeking here.”

 

Further Junior emphasized, “Secondly, with every promotion we get involved, we involve you in the community as well.  Your name goes up on every bill board and sign we place in the community.”

 

Concluding, “When you have your grand opening, we will put up billboards for you stating that New Age Banking welcomes and serves Home ReSources.  Check them out!  We will tie our name to you in every way that can benefit you as a company.”

 

The gentleman retorted, “I like the idea of home remodeling loans.  But when it comes to bill boards, I think it might serve you better to have our name with you on the bill boards.”

 

He laughed, “After all we are the larger more well known entity than your new bank.”  Some of the team members snickered at the comment.

 

Junior recognizing that this man might be harmful to his campaign, went after him, “Yes, by all means, Home ReSources is better known than we are – that is a given – but sir, with all due respect – you have to admit that I have been in banking here in Lebanon for over a decade and my family has been in banking for over 50 years.”

 

Plowing down, “My entire life to this point since birth has been here in Lebanon except the time I went away Nashville for College.  I know people here that you will never meet.  My Grandfather and my Dad started the bank in Lebanon when there were no banks.  We have been in banking here for decades in Lebanon.”

 

Finishing, “As they say, we know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two here in Lebanon.  Yes, Home ReSources is known extensively and we want to be here in business with you in Lebanon.”

 

Extending his comments, “But surely, you have to admit that we will complement each other.  You’re coming in new; and me having been here my entire life counts for something or I would not be here today for your business.”

 

Jack spoke up, “Let’s keep this on track, John.” John was the gentleman questioning Junior.

 

Jack continued, “Junior has some very good points.  He represents a huge portion of the commercial business here in Lebanon with his business contacts on board and we will need them.”

 

Jack continued to elaborate, “And his being from Lebanon, working in banking in Lebanon for as many years as he has – plus his family’s involvement in banking since the beginning of time – all speak to his ability to help us if we choose him.”

 

Jack continued, “Junior, let’s move on – show us your rates.  After all that is what we are after – saving dollars.”

 

Junior clicked the remote and went immediately to the power point for the fund ranges and the interest rates.  “Please note, these rates,” explained Junior, “are standard commercial rates for vendors such as Home ReSources.”

 

He explained, “If your needs vary, we can vary the rates as needed to accommodate those needs.  Nothing is too big to adjust.”

 

Junior explained, “There are certain measures that all banks can use to become more attractive in working with you.  Nothing is in concrete here, no pun intended with your home improvement products.”

 

Junior laughed seeking to add some levity to the meeting.  Many joined in soft laughter.

 

Jack asked, “Can you shoot that over to us by encrypted email so that I can have something to show Corporate?  Note that you can adjust if needed on any particular item.  We will want to make our decision on Monday.”

 

“It is time we move out and get this party started.  Anybody else got a question they want an answer for here?” asked Jack.

 

Not getting a question, Jack concluded, “I have meetings set up with contractors this afternoon.  I cannot be late for them.”

 

There was no response and Jack looked at Junior who in turn signaled Carolyn to have the wait-staff bring in the lunch.  She left the room to get the food.

 

Lunch was served in accordance with their selections and everything went as planned.  Junior, though, realized that a lot of the meeting was just a standard operational conversation.

 

He knew he was ready and the presentation was thorough.  Although he was ready for what came his way, it was not as impressive enough to give him an indication he had swayed their concerns.”

 

He thought, “For example, they had not asked nor had he mentioned any type of tax incentives they might want to receive.  Taxes are a major concern for any corporation coming in to a brand new territory.”

 

Junior made it a point to speak to Jack during lunch before he got away from the meeting.  He wanted to line him up for the dinner Friday evening.

 

Carolyn had arranged the tables for the lunch so that he would sit with Jack.  Junior had ordered his usual burger with fries and a soft drink while Jack had a huge hamburger with all the trimmings.

 

Jack had to actually cut his burger in pieces to get it in his mouth.  Laughing, and putting a large bite in his mouth, he said, “This has got to be the biggest burger I have ever had.  It is great.”  Everyone laughed at him trying to eat it.

 

Junior said, “Just wait until you have opportunity to have one of our pork sandwiches.  The pork is every bit an inch thick when they start cooking it and it only cooks down to about ¾ of an inch.  It is hard to eat.  It is great – one sandwich and you have more of a meal than you can eat.”

 

“I think I have more here” said Jack, “than I can eat for lunch.  I don’t want to mess up the dessert that is coming.”

 

“Y’all are in for a treat for dessert,” declared Junior, “we are having fresh home-made ice cream made here at the club.  It is just like your mothers and fathers used to make sitting on the front porch when you were growing up in the country.”

 

“That is if you grew up in the country,” laughed Junior.  “You are familiar with Blue Bell Ice Cream?  Well, this home-made ice cream puts Blue Bell in the shade.”

 

At the mention of dessert, the waiters came bustling in with trays filled with the fresh home-made ice cream.  Some of the team, even if they were not through yet with their sandwiches; stopped to sample the ice cream.  Nothing but shouts of praise went up from the group over the ice cream.

 

Even the sugar-free home-made ice cream was a delight for the one member that was pre-diabetic.  Jack nodded his approval to Junior for getting the special dessert for his friend. 

 

Junior turned to Jack and said, “Jack, I want you to meet these guys I work with from the business community.  I have a dinner date set for them tomorrow evening here at the club.  Can you join us?”

 

Jack replied, “That might be a little unusual for me since Corporate has strict rules about socializing with vendors.  But we are not up and running yet – sure I can make it.  What time?”

 

Junior was pleased with his decision and said, “How about 7:00?  I can leave a card for you at the door since you are not a member.”

 

“By the way when you get settled in, you might want to consider joining the club.”  Junior mentioned, “I can sponsor your membership.  As you can see they have great food and the golf course is quite a challenge.”

 

“7 it is then,” answered Jack.  “And as I said, I have got to get back for the meetings with the contractors.”

 

Knowing Junior might be upset concerning John, Jack leaned over and said, “Don’t let John rattle you.  He is like that all the time.  Questions, questions, questions.  See you tomorrow evening.”

 

Jack left the table and joined a couple from his team.  He had ridden over to the club with them and they were ready to go also.

 

Junior got Carolyn and closed out the billing with the club for the lunch.  Junior felt good about the meeting, but when he compared himself to his Uncle Steve at this particular time in business, he was not sure he would do business with himself.

 

He thought, “Uncle Steve still has the upper hand with the tax incentives.  The stock plan was going to have to be the ‘ace up his sleeve’ to level the playing field.  And if Jack was not moved toward it at the beginning, it was over period.”

 

He remembered, however, “But you know, he went against corporate policy to meet with us tomorrow night so who knows.  Maybe … maybe … maybe?”

 

Junior drove Carolyn back to the bank.  He told her to get in touch with Clyde, Carl, Ray, and David.  “Tell them about the dinner with the team manager Friday at 7 at the club and everyone needs to be there,” instructed Junior.

 

“Done,” Carolyn replied and got out of the car at the bank.  She could tell Junior was on much more secure footing than before the meeting.

 

She thought, “He sure seems relieved now that his presentation is over.  His next presentation will not be as tedious as he gets more and more of these under his belt.”

 

She was proud of him, “He had the perfect comeback for the man that questioned his exposure compared to Home ReSources.  He handled himself well on his feet.”

 

Friday morning as Junior drove to the bank, he reminisced on what he was going to have to do.  He was on edge about doing it.  He knew that what he was going to do, his Uncle Steve would never approve.  Yet because of Clyde, he was going to have to try it.

 

“If it worked,” he considered, “OK, but if it failed, it would be my first opportunity of bringing in new commercial accounts and it would be on me for the failure.”

 

He concluded, “Plus if Uncle Steve gets the account, he will see that I am pathetic as a new banker on the move.  I just can’t let that happen.”

 

Arriving late in the morning at the bank, he was given a cup of coffee by Carolyn as he walked through the door.  “I have contacted Ray, David, Carl, and Clyde concerning the dinner tonight and they have all confirmed they will be there,” exclaimed Carolyn.

 

“Good,” responded Junior.  “Today, I have meetings with Joaquin and his construction supervisors concerning the building.”

 

“I have got to make another percentage payment on the construction contract.  I want to make sure they have progressed as far as they will claim they have,” calculated Junior.

 

“Joaquin is a good ole boy, but he is also a good ole business man who likes to get ahead of a project if he can.  He will have to live with the contract.”

 

Junior alluded to the day’s activity, “I don’t think I have anything on schedule, but be sure I am clear so that we can keep this building on schedule.  At our last meeting, they were actually ahead of schedule and I want to keep them moving at a fast pace.”

 

Carolyn, speaking assuredly said, “You are clear.  I will contact you before adding anything in that is not pressing.”

 

Junior explained, “OK, I am going to run by the club and make sure everything is set for tonight.  I will grab lunch there, and be back here by 1:30 for the meeting with Joaquin.  Anything else that comes up, call me on my cell.”

 

Carolyn agreed and told him to have a great morning.  She returned to her desk.

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