The Evolution of a Managerial Style:
Marriner Eccles in the Public and Private Sector
a commemorative lecture presented at the
2006 Utah Construction/ Utah International Symposium
Dr. Stephen Francis
Wednesday, October 4, 2006 2
Good morning. It is my pleasure to be here. Before I start I would like to thank the generosity of those that made this symposium possible. It is really a great event that we have here, and the ability for scholars to come and study and do those, and I think that is magnificent for those that put this on. Also I think we need to thank those that put countless hours into making this symposium possible. Over the summer researching, I know the amount of hours that also went on the other side of putting this all together, and I am quite impressed with their work as well.
As Dr. Sessions mentioned, my field is Tudor England. So you may say, “ What is he doing here?” and I ask that same question myself many times. But I am from Ogden and I realize that from a very early age I have had a connection with the Eccles on a very peripheral level, but grew up one road down from Eccles Avenue. As a small child my first bank account was at First Security, went down there and did all that. Growing up later I realized my father would tell the story of coming home from a Bear River football game going 85 miles an hour and then he saw in his rear- view mirror lights and realized that Spence Eccles was going even quicker passing him; so I heard that story. My sister had a reception at the Bertha Eccles Center and I grew up going to church with John Eccles and his family who was Marriner‟ s son. I would never have guessed as a small child sitting in Sunday School looking at Sarah Eccles that one day I would actually be doing research on her grandfather. So there is a connection there and I am very interested in the Eccles family and their impact in the Ogden and then not only national but international levels. So I guess somehow that is how I come 3
a field from the Tudor era. Although I have realized from this why I so enjoy Tudor England, and that is that if I were to ever give a lecture on Elizabeth the 1st, I don‟ t have to worry that Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh are actually in the audience and correcting me when I get things wrong. So I will gladly go back to the sixteenth century after this. It is my pleasure to be here and to talk to you today about Marriner Eccles. As a historian we often then have a specific thesis or idea that we are trying to get across in research. Again because as Dr. Matt said yesterday we were talking about men that we have never met to people that know them quite intimately. That can be a good thing and that can be a bad thing. Sometimes I think maybe we get a little bit more objectivity, but at the same time as the apostle Paul said, “ We see through a glass darkly”. I think that is somewhat accurate of historians in general. So I hope that what I have to say has some meaning and works okay. One of the things I liked about Marriner Eccles is that, and sometimes I do this as well, is that you get the sense with Marriner Eccles that if something was true or at least he thought it was right and true, it didn‟ t matter how you presented it, everybody should just see that it is true and jump on board. I sometimes fall into that, so I am going to treat Marriner Eccles in a Marriner Eccles fashion and just lay out my presentation and my thesis and then I will say that it is right, and then I will let Sidney stand up and tell me how wrong I am, but that‟ s okay.
Today specifically what I am going to be looking at is Marriner as a manager. We have often… most of the writing that has been done on Marriner 4
focuses on his ideas, especially what he was doing in Washington D. C. as the Federal Reserve Board Chairman. There is no doubt about it. This man had an amazing grasp of ideas, of how they could be implemented, and really was very impressive in his view of what should take place in the future. But what I am looking at more specifically is how he was as a manager in dealing with not only then corporations, but also then Washington years and this broader idea. We see this very prevalently in our society, this idea of the business man going into the public sphere and then coming back out of the public sphere and how does that affect the companies that they work for. That is, this transition is very popular I think. I think this is actually quite timely in the sense that Alan Greenspan just retired from the Federal Reserve Board and is probably one of the more famous Federal Reserve Board Chairmen mostly because of what Marriner did with the Federal Reserve back in the 30s and the 40s, and there is this interest of “ Well, where do they go now”. There is this idea that Senators then go and sit on boards after they are done and there is this real interest in the two spheres transferring in there. I just saw on the Daly Show not too long ago President Clinton talking about moving into the private sphere and the affect of that. So I am hoping this is kind of an interesting subject; I found it interesting, of how did this affect Marriner?
The premise of my remarks actually comes from a quote from Marriner Eccles. He said, “ I think most American businessmen have gone through a similar kind of self examination on being offered a public post. Despite their materialism and their drum- fire criticism of all politicians and bureaucrats, 5
governmental service has an attraction for a great many of them. Let them get a taste of the position and the flavor remains with them forever. Most other things afterward seem flat or jaded.” And I think that is a true statement and I think that is true in his life, so we are going to try to look at that, and that is really a long introduction to my ideas, but let‟ s then jump right into them.
Marriner Eccles as many of you know was born in 1890 to David Eccles and Ellen Stoddard Eccles. Dean L. May in his book “ From New Deal to New Economics” posed the idea that one of the reasons that Marriner Eccles had this kind of broad view of what the economy should do, he is going to claim that it is actually his Mormon background. That even though Marriner may not have been doctrinally interested in the Church, the social culture of Mormonism affected the way he looked at things and saying about this collectivism of Mormonism, that that affected this kind of economic policy. And I am going to start of right there by saying that I don‟ t necessarily agree with May‟ s vision of that. I am going to, though, say that yes, Mormon culture had an affect on him, but it actually wasn‟ t the collectivism of Mormonism, but actually the isolation of Mormonism at that time. The polygamist system actually creates more isolation than it does collectivism. Marriner‟ s mother was the second wife of David Eccles and therefore really was left on her own. You get this sense, then, of again in Marriner‟ s writings, in his memoirs, he is discussing this idea of in a way kind of being upset that the Mormon Church asks people to come to Utah and then just kind of dumps them here. Then in his mind he found the Ogden Valley to be this kind of harsh climate that wasn‟ t really very friendly. He was a great person of 6
forecasting the future, but on that one he got it wrong. He said there was very few people living in Huntsville and he never saw that place growing beyond what it was then. But now, he didn‟ t I guess see ski resorts and that of showing Huntsville off. But he saw that as kind of harsh that you were isolated in this area. Again being the child of the second wife of David Eccles, there is that isolationism, because you really get a feeling that Marriner really didn‟ t know his father very well. He is going to come into contact with him every now and then, rarely has a very long conversation. They will be moved up to Oregon to kind of get away from polygamist laws and persecution, and then his father dies. He is left to take care of his mother. So if anything, I don‟ t think there is this idea of Mormon again taking care of each other as a community. I think more Marriner felt this responsibility from a very young age to take care of his family because he was really in a way alone. He is the oldest child. Even when his father was alive, his mother is pretty much there by herself, so he is already the man of the house even before his father dies. I think that weighs quite heavily on him, this responsibility to take care of his mother and his family. And that responsibility, I think he feels, like he has to go it alone. I liked how Sydney Hyman represented him as a „ lone walker‟ and I think that is such a very true statement of Marriner Eccles.
So my premise is that before his Washington years when he is running the family businesses he is really seeing it in that sense, that “ I have to take care of these people and my family”. He is then much more interested in the specific running of those businesses. Now he is going to get involved in the family 7
business of the lumber company. He is also going to get involved with Utah Construction. He will get involved in Amalgamated Sugar, and then in the 20s he will form First Security Bank Corporation. When you look at his management style in these areas before Washington, I think he has always had this kind of understanding of the big picture, but it is much more, he is much more involved in the running of these companies. His stories which are great stories, especially with First Security, when the Depression hits, the stock market crashed. Later then, they are fearing runs on the bank and in my mind I always see the „ It‟ s a Wonderful Life‟ Jimmy Stewart and people running in. I don‟ t remember runs on the bank. I‟ m not that old. So I have to somewhat tie it to Hollywood. But the great story is that he is coming in and he is going to stand up on the counter and tell people “ Calm down. We‟ ve got funds to cover this. The Federal Reserve in Salt Lake City has money”. Now he says in his memoirs that those two statements were true, he just didn‟ t tell people that they weren‟ t necessarily connected. Yes Salt Lake had money, but that doesn‟ t mean that it was going to come to his bank and it was going to go out to them, but they don‟ t need to know that. He then tells his tellers, “ Take as long as possible. If somebody comes and wants money, even if you have known them your whole life, tell them that you have to go back and get their signature card to make sure that the withdrawal is appropriate. Pay them in very small bills and count them out very slowly so that we can close on time and not have to shut down the bank”. So he tells them this and then the next day when there was another fear then he says, “ Okay now what we‟ re going to do…” and this I think is quite ingenious, so then he says “ The 8
next day open up as soon as possible and no matter what they say do it as quickly as possible and pay in large bills, because we don‟ t want anybody on the second day to see a line. We want people to think that this business is just this bank running normally. There is no one waiting in line. We are calm, cool, and collected”. So a total turn around. So you see he is getting involved on a very fundamental basic level of explaining to these tellers how to do this. He is the man up on the table, if you will, bringing everybody together being under control.
You also see in these earlier years that he is more involved in the actual aspects and running of these companies. There is evidence as we were looking in some of these documents that, for example, in Utah Construction, he is actually going out and will make a report to the company saying, “ Well, I was out at this site and it seems that the concrete is coming in. They are pouring it very well. I was out there. Things seemed to be going along very well.” It was the same thing with Amalgamated Sugar. He is off looking at sites, maybe where they can have a factory or something, again more on this level of actually looking at the production and process of these companies. Another one specifically going with the milk company he started. He found out that he was going to work all of this. Thirty- three percent of the stock in the company was held by a Mr. Radcliff of Los Angeles. Marriner went to L. A. and asked Radcliff to meet him in his hotel room where Marriner proposed buying Radcliff‟ s stock. Radcliff said that he needed a day to think about it. And this again is what I love about Marriner. He says, “ Well, I‟ ve got to leave tomorrow. Let‟ s not think about it. You know that this is a good deal. You know I‟ m giving you a good deal. Let‟ s just do it right now”, 9
because he was worried that the Chicago group might come and talk to Mr. Radcliff to buy his shares. So Radcliff is like, “ Well Okay but we at least need a lawyer to draw this up”. And he says, “ Look, this is a basic no- brain concept. You‟ ve got stock, I‟ ve got money. We can just write it up right here and sign it”. And Marriner then says that he is probably glad that Mr. Radcliff didn‟ t think much of lawyers because he sat down and just on hotel stationary wrote out two copies of the contract and they both signed it and off he went. Again this is to me very specific intervention in a company trying to run it. He is the man in charge in this period.
With the coming of the stock- market crash, this is going to be the event that changes Marriner‟ s life, and this is where he sees even a bigger picture. I believe that even up until this point in time Marriner really has been focused on running these companies for the benefit of his family, and that is the scope of where he is looking, and is more involved then in the running of those companies. But now with the stock- market crash and especially then the ensuing great Depression, he sees that…„ You could try to run the company the best you can, but because of these bigger events that you can‟ t control, companies can fail. Well, maybe then you can control these bigger events‟. And this is where, then, Marriner begins to look at even a bigger picture and starts to have these ideas of how to fix the economy by massive government spending; that you can‟ t leave it up to businesses to fix themselves because it is too big of an issue. You can work all of your life like his father did and make this amazing company, but if other things affect it that you have no control over, no matter how hard you work, 10
it may fall apart. So therefore, we need to come up with these bigger ways of solving the problem. And often times he gets referred to as this policy of massive government spending to prime the pump is often considered to be Keynesian economics, although he is proposing this before Keynes does. Because he is a businessman and a very successful businessman, he is asked to come back to Washington to discuss these ideas, well not specifically those ideas, but just where the economy should go before a Senate Committee; and this is where he then proposes these ideas. And again, as is often stated in books and memoirs, this isn‟ t some long- haired radical economic professor coming with some wacky idea; this is a millionaire businessman proposing these ideas. And this catches the attention of the Washington think- tanks, if you will, and he is asked to come back and work in the Treasury. You can tell again in his memoirs, it is kind of the put- up or shut- up position. Here you have been talking about all these things, now are you going to accept an active role in the public sphere. Marriner decides that yes, this is what he needs to do.
Now today, if the person were to go back to Washington and eventually end up on the Federal Reserve Board, you should get out of all your business dealings, you only had to get out of banking. You couldn‟ t actively be in banking, but there was nothing else to stop you from being in all these other things. To me, that is what I find fascinating, is that he doesn‟ t divest himself from these other activities. And it is not just divest himself. It is not like he has to sell his stock or anything, he is still the President of many of these companies. It is not just as if, „ Well, we‟ ll just keep him on the board‟; no he is going to be President 11
of Amalgamated Sugar. While he is back there he is going to be President of Utah Construction. And in his mind he sees no conflict of interest, and to be honest as I have looked through these things, it doesn‟ t seem that there was a huge conflict of interest, but it still is interesting that he is trying to keep both feet in those spheres. He is not completely going into the public sphere. He wants to hold onto that private sphere. As was said last night and definitely true, I think one of Marriner‟ s greatest strengths was his ability to pick good managers for those companies. If you look at his again personal memoirs, he is kind of proud of the fact that he has never read an economic theory book, that he isn‟ t that college educated. But at the same time I think that maybe bothered him a little because he was very clear on making sure that his managers had educations. So as much as he was talking about his informal education and that this was just kind of through observation and experience, he was going to make sure that the men who ran these companies had those educations.
For example his brother George received a business degree from Columbia University and ran First Security during Marriner‟ s absence. Later Spencer Eccles would also then go to Columbia. Marriner sent his own son Campbell to the Wharton School of Business. Eccles had H. A. Benning who ran Amalgamated Sugar. He went to the Rochester Business Institute. A. E. Benning who later ran the company attended Yale University. And as we said, Dr. Matt was talking about yesterday, later after he comes back from Washington, Ed Littlefield from Stanford is going to run Utah Construction. So as much as he is talking about this self- made man who hasn‟ t had a formal education, he is going 12
to put those key men into those positions. I think this is a huge shift in that he is forced to allow these men to do their thing. You can not micromanage, or at least it is very difficult to micromanage two thousand miles away. So instead of being this active participant in these companies, he is forced to delegate that authority. That is going to change the management style of these companies. The other thing is that once he gets back to Washington, as much as he may be proud of the fact that he never read an economic professor‟ s ideas, he will rely on them still in his role as Federal Reserve Board Chairman. One of the great ones will be Lockland Currie, a Harvard PhD who had a founding in traditional economic concepts. So as great of a thinker as Marriner was, he still needed these people to kind of formulate what he already had his mind in this kind of technical language. That is where his management style is going to change.
Currie is I think is one of the more fascinating people in his Washington years. Lockland Currie was hired by Marriner Eccles. Again, Marriner‟ s ability to find people of quality, intelligence, and capability. Lockland Currie again was a PhD from Harvard and Marriner wanted to bring him in as the head of research for the Federal Reserve Board. The problem was that there was already a head of research and… well, I don‟ t think it is a very big mystery of those who know Marriner. He is not a very political man. He is not one to play the game, and here he is in Washington. I mean this is the biggest game in the country. And he just, I think he is just struggling with this idea of, „ Why can‟ t I just get rid of this guy and put in the guy I want‟, but it doesn‟ t work that way in Washington. So he said, 13
“ Well, I‟ ll just make you an assistant research director but you don‟ t really have to kind of answer to this guy. You just answer to me. Well, that‟ s going to tick both off and it was kind of ugly. But they did work well together.
Currie stated, though, and again I think this gives us some insight into Eccles… He says, “ Although a fluent talker, Eccles had some difficulty expressing himself forcibly and coherently in writing. His mind was so active that one thing would suggest another and this a third, and there was always a danger that the original point would get lost in the shuffle”. He then later stated, “ Eccles would doubtless be astonished if someone told him that he was not the easiest man in the world to work with or under. I had to smile, though, ruefully, in reading his stories of his difficulty in getting over a point to President Roosevelt, as I experienced exactly the same difficulties with him.” And again, Marriner would come back and go, “ Why, why, doesn‟ t FDR see this truth?” You can just see Currie going “ Why, why, don‟ t you see this truth that I‟ m trying to get across to you?” That having been said, Currie goes on to say, “ These criticisms, however, are minor. I both admired and was personally very fond of Eccles”. But I think that demonstrates his management style that Marriner had. I think this is something I can relate to, and probably my students can relate to too. If you‟ ve got an idea, you‟ ve got back it up. If you can‟ t back it up, I don‟ t care how great your main statement was, if you can‟ t back this up, then we‟ re not going to have a good discussion. He was willing then to openly discuss matters, but it had to be on this very rational level, and I think this is somewhat a similarity that I at least admired in him or maybe just saw some of myself in. Not that I‟ m trying to put 14
myself on the same level as Eccles, but I do like things more verbally. I would rather sit and hash it out in a conversation, than sit down and write it and have somebody critique that. A lot of my ideas are formulated through discourse. The same thing was true of Marriner. He liked this idea and on a management level that can somewhat be frustrating for those underneath him because again, as Dr. Matt was talking about last time, in this evolving corporatization of America where you are trying to streamline and make things more efficient, sometimes just sitting and hashing things out at least some people might not find that the most efficient form. In fact Currie got very frustrated with this idea. “ Why can‟ t I just write this up, you look at it and say okay, and move on?” Whereas that wasn‟ t really working; at least when he did write he had to keep it very to the point. Again don‟ t go off with all this flowery crap. Currie said, “ So most of my memoranda to him were short, simply worded, and action oriented; and were passed personally to Eccles usually unsigned and even undated, which may explain in part both their character and the relative lack of memoranda by me in the official archives. Some of my most influential work left no record at all as it took place in the preparation of speeches and statements by Eccles. While I enjoyed writing, he much preferred talking, and it was in these interminable discussions that accompanied the preparation of each speech and statement, and that often lasted late into the night with revised drafts to be prepared the following morning for other and successive sessions that I most influenced his thinking and he mine.” 15
Now if you‟ ve got a man like Currie who is willing to do that, management goes well. But if you are trying to run later companies, this probably isn‟ t really great. A lot of people may want to be home with their family, as Ed Littlefield told Marriner. He said, “ Yes, I‟ ll join Utah Construction” But basically Ed Littlefield told Marriner, “ But I‟ m not going to be you. I‟ m going to go home at night”. I think again, if you‟ re that same kind of character as Marriner, “ Yeah, no, we‟ re going to stay here until two in the morning and we‟ re going to hash this out and work this out”, and I think for Marriner that was fun. That was exciting. Currie is just like “ Oh, here is my third draft, come on. Let‟ s go home”. In his relationships with those around him, he could be abrasive and often times that tends to be the adjective describing Marriner. And this here again is an example of where the man was a businessman and a thinker, and not a politician. He had some struggles and specifically with Henry Morganthou, who was the Secretary of Treasury under Franklin D. Roosevelt. The two just didn‟ t see eye to eye because they really were wrestling for power over the monetary system. Marriner is wanting to turn the Federal Reserve Board into an independent organization that can really direct monetary and fiscal policy and basically the Secretary of the Treasury was not real happy about this and felt that he was encroaching on his power. You can see though, that in the end Marriner wins. Again, most of us had at least heard of Alan Greenspan and Bernacky and the Secretary of the Treasury is kind of fading in our collective „ who is he?‟ So he wins not just for himself, but in the long run Eccles wins, but that doesn‟ t mean he didn‟ t ruffle some feathers along the way. 16
Here is an example. In July of 1936 Morganthau was livid that Eccles had increased Reserve requirements by 50% without notifying the Treasury. Morganthau called Eccles and railed against Eccles‟ actions, and Eccles claimed that Morganthau had just been out of town, and “ Sorry I didn‟ t mention it to you, but I was going to do that, but I did have President Roosevelt‟ s approval”. Again, not the most tactful. Morganthau then wrote in his diary after railing on Marriner he says, “ I certainly put the fear of God into him, and I doubt if he will ever pull another fast one”. He wasn‟ t such a good predictor of the future.
Lockland Currie here once again is like, “ Oh crap, what has happened here”, and he writes to Marriner saying, “ Make overtures to the Secretary. Tell him you do not question his authority, ability, or (…?) in connection with monetary control. I know that you put ideas and objectives above personalities. Since the contribution you can make rests in the final analysis on the degree of cooperation you can obtain from the Secretary, I think you will be prepared to make real sacrifices for the sake of your wider objectives”. Then again, here is an underling telling Marriner, “ Mellow. Try to work with this guy. If you want to make a difference, you have got to work with him.” Eccles at least at that time must have taken Currie‟ s advice, because Eccles had been vehemently fighting Morganthau over a particular policy and the two had decided… and I love this. You can just see them in this argument. “ It‟ s like, yeah, well, we‟ ll just take it to Roosevelt and see who wins.” So they both go to Roosevelt. Morganthau gets to meet him in the morning and Morganthau explains his policies and FDR says, “ Well, that‟ s good, but let me hear from Marriner, and then I will make my 17
decision”. Marriner comes in and basically explains the exact same thing that Morganthau had and so he is now, after weeks of fighting, he comes in and presents Morganthau‟ s ideas, and Morganthau is just standing there, just blown away. Later Morganthau told his staff, “ In my whole experience I have never seen anything like it. And the thing that frightens me is that a man can so completely reverse himself.” I think he was not necessarily trying to placate Morganthou, because that doesn‟ t strike me as what Marriner would do, I think, again in his mind, this is where I think he is kind of clueless in a way about… I think he thought this was a great argument that he and Morganthau were having. This is how you come to solutions. This is how you come to ideas. You don‟ t take it personally. Whereas, Morganthau takes it very personally. I think Marriner walks away from all of these kinds of things thinking, “ Well, I don‟ t understand why you‟ re upset with me. That was just a fun exchange of ideas and I finally saw your side of it.” Morganthau is just stunned that this is going on. I think that is the part in management that Eccles never really saw, is that maybe you have to be a little political to soften things. And really, you know, he was extremely successful, so I‟ m sure in his mind it worked find, but again, Currie said for example, “ Our failure to get open- market operations transferred entirely to the board was due in turn to Chairman Eccles‟ failure to court Senator Glass in the early days. So there was this idea that, „ Yes we accomplished a lot‟, and Currie may be wrong, but in Currie‟ s mind at least he is saying, „ Yes we accomplished a lot but we could have done so much more if you had just tried to soften a little‟. Of course 18
you could argue that if he tried to soften a little, he wouldn‟ t be Eccles and maybe wouldn‟ t have gotten what he did get. Sam Carpenter who was the Secretary of the Federal Reserve Board said, “ Because Eccles was not a politician, he didn‟ t think like a politician. He thought of getting things done and I think that is one of the things that got in his way when he was working on the Banking Act of 1935. He thought if he came up with the right ideas everybody would say, “ Come on, let‟ s do it”, and he didn‟ t think of it in the sense of getting a thing done politically. He goes on to say, “ Marriner‟ s biggest problem was himself. He was abrasive in the extent that he knew what to do and the other people resented his pushing and saying, “ Come on now, let‟ s do this”. But in a way I also thing that is exactly what made it that he did get an amazing amount of things done, and I think those that worked for him respected that idea but he wasn‟ t always the most fun to work with.
Once he comes out of Washington, I do think that his first statement is true, and no offense to the companies that he had, but I don‟ t think they seemed as exciting as what he had been doing. Because he really had been formulating national and therefore international policies and as greatly… I mean definitely in my mind the Federal Reserve Building should be named, and it is named the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Building. He does in reality create the Federal Reserve System that we have today. That is so true; one of the most influential men in American history from an economic point of view. He will get involved in the World Bank. He is going to get involved in the Federal Housing Administration. I mean these are huge things, and again I am not trying to 19
diminish the companies he had here, but I think in his mind, it is not as exciting, that is not as fun. So when you see him come back from Washington, there is a more distance in the running of those companies. His management is not as hands on. He is now more going to allow those men underneath him to more actively run those companies, and now he is going to kind of sit back in a way and things will be brought to him. He is still more than happy to have those conversations, but I don‟ t think you see what you saw before Washington. He is not going to, and this may have something to do with age as well, maybe he feels like he has earned his stripes. But you are not going to see the man going down and telling people how to run things. He is going to be more than happy to tell people what he thinks about policy and where they should go, and he may not pick the exact right moment to do that.
One of my favorite stories over the summer was from Justin Eccles saying that at a family reunion, he is going to decide instead of to talk about David Eccles, he is going to stand up and talk about birth control. Because again, this is right, this is true, you should just listen to me. Generally Mormon polygamist family reunions are probably not the best place to talk about birth control. So there is this kind of struggle with bringing up these points that he wants. But at times he is going to have to step in and I think that is going to happen in Utah Construction. He is going to be concerned about the way that Christensen is running the company. So when Christensen is running the company in Utah Construction, you actually see memos again where Marriner is going to discuss „ should be buy these huge ore ships that are going to transport things‟. Again this 20
seems to be a very mundane issue, but he is going to have to do that. Once he puts Ed Littlefield in control, you do not see those same kinds of memos. Again, it‟ s like „ Okay I had to deal with this, but now that I know that this person is in control, he can take care of that and I don‟ t have to worry about it‟, and I think I really appreciated that in Ed Littlefield that he could then go on and do what he wanted to do. The same thing is true of First Security, I think in his brother George he had no worries that First Security was running correctly. He does seem to get a little bit more involved in Amalgamated Sugar. And it is not that the Bennings were bad, because really he still left the Bennings to that. I think it is one of his older companies and you will still see him kind of go out and look at new factories, where again you don‟ t see him really going out and looking at the sites of Utah Construction.
One of the things, though, that I think was not as affective then in his managerial skills, is because he allowed these men to run things, you don‟ t see the cross fertilization if you will of these companies. He really lets them run independently. In a way that‟ s good but on another level, you would think that to have a manager in all these companies, they could use their collective knowledge to help the other companies. But Marriner seems to be much more, „ No, I‟ ve given you this responsibility, you take care of it‟. For example in the 1960s Amalgamated Sugar was discussing if they should get in the cattle feeding business and Marriner said no they shouldn‟ t because we tried that in the past and it didn‟ t work. Mr. Alan on the board said, “ Well, I don‟ t think we should make 21
decisions on the future based necessarily on just what happened in the past”. I would love to be in that board room to see someone take on Marriner and say that, and then Marriner quickly, I mean the man had a very good grasp of things, said, “ Okay, well because of this reason, and this reason, and this reason, that is why it is not effective”. But he never said, “ And it didn‟ t work economically for Utah Construction”. Utah Construction also had cattle. He didn‟ t pull on that information to make his point with Amalgamated Sugar.
The same thing is true again with Amalgamated Sugar. Ed Littlefield is going to corporatize Utah Construction in the late 1950s and into the early 1960s as Dr. Matt talked about last time. Amalgamated Sugar does the same thing but about ten years later and it doesn‟ t seem that there was any discussion, “ Well, this is what we did in Utah Construction. Maybe that will help in Amalgamated Sugar”, which I think is a great story and on one level is great management. There was discussion in Utah Construction about getting a loan at the prime rate and Ed Littlefield had gone off and found that the Bank of America would give them the prime rate, so they have all located. George Eccles, his brother, wasn‟ t there. When George finds out that they had gone to the Bank of America and not to First Security, he loses it and says, “ What were you thinking? How dare you do this?” Again, I would love well, not to be a fly in the room. I don‟ t want to be actually there, I would get really stressed. But they went at it, and I guess other members of the board were like, “ Oh, this is going to be fun. Let‟ s watch the Eccles boys go at each other”. But I like the fact that Marriner was saying, “ No in this situation, I am wearing the hat of Utah Construction and he tells George, 22
“ You know that if you can‟ t give me the prime rate from First Security, Bank of America will”. And George was like, “ Okay” in the end. So in that sense I think this is very beneficial because he does believe that, “ No I am wearing the hat of Utah Construction and I will fight hard for the best deal, even if my brother and my own company is First Security Bank”. But at the same time I think that I think demonstrates that attitude that these companies are separate and I‟ m not going to mess with saying “ This is how we did it here, this is how we did it there so maybe you should work from that”. I think that kind of independence and isolation is what I talked about before.
Finally, I think one of the things that I find very interesting is that he still was interested in these bigger issues and policies. I briefly mentioned birth control. Very interested then in birth control because again he saw the economy on this big scale and he is saying, “ As these other third world countries over populate…” and again I think this is very future sighted. “ Eventually you are going to out- source and labor is going to go to those other places and that is going to cause economic problems. We need to reduce the size of labor” So through birth control. The other thing was that he saw Vietnam as a big waste of money and said that… well, here‟ s a quote. I love this. He says, “ The most important issue before the country today is our involvement in Vietnam. If affects every facet of our lives and our relationship to the rest of the world. Considering the financial and monetary aspects of our involvement, it is primarily responsible for our large budgetary deficit which is causing inflation. It is mainly responsible for the large and increasing deficiency in our balance of payments.” Now I think this is a great 23
quote of saying, here is against Vietnam and the problems it‟ s causing. Guess where this statement comes from? The Annual Report of First Security Bank. This is not a speech to a big, and I love this. If you read the First Security Annual Reports, this becomes his bully pulpit. Whereas other companies, I have looked at Zions Bank, the only thing in the letter from the management is „ this is how many loans we made, this is our…‟ I love these from First Security because there is always this section on where I think Marriner gets to kind of go off and talk about these. Spence I‟ m sure can correct me but I would love to have been one of the stockholders at First Security getting my annual report. Any means he has to listen to his bigger message he will use. And again I think he honestly believed, and I am not disagreeing with him, that as a stockholder of this bank, you should be looking at these bigger issues. You should be seeing how this fits into the bigger picture. Marriner was always a big picture man and he will let the rest of these people underneath him deal with the details. I think again from the public sphere to the private sphere, that public sphere affected the way he looked. I think he was always the big picture, but public service broadened his big picture, and I think in some ways that definitely benefited the companies he had after, but also in other ways there were some issues where he could have maybe made them orchestrate better but because he wasn‟ t interested it didn‟ t happen. So in a way, he started his life in isolation with the weight in a way of the world on his shoulders, and in the end he finished his life as an isolated man still with the weight of the world on his shoulders. 24
© 2007 WSU Stewart Library, All rights reserved.
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