We’re more like a family and less like a cutthroat business. We can look at things long term instead of having to make the next quarterly estimate that some idiot on Wall Street made up. We are more likely to try and help people rather than fire them—25% to 30% of our employees have been with us for 25 years or longer.
Change Is Certain Things are going to change. How? I don’t know, but they’re not going to be the same. There’s been a recession in the building business every decade since I’ve been here in the late ’50s, but this one was just different. It ran longer and it spread throughout the world. No one expected it to do what it did. It was a surprise to everyone when things continued to fall—none of us cut back fast enough because we couldn’t believe it was going where it did.
Coming Back We closed a lot of operations [as a result of the housing market downturn]. We went down from 2,900 employees to 525 and cut our locations from 48 to 24. We made a list with four contiguous states and a list of maybe 20 towns in the four states that we already operate in. The idea is to prioritize them and see what makes sense. We’re planning on growing back but not as fast as the last bubble took us.
History Our office was on the same floor as the FBI’s office downtown, and three or four of us always went to lunch at around 11:30. As we got back around 12:30, things were starting to stir. Somebody said the president had been shot. We turned on the radio and the TV and it was quite a scene.
It was kind of like 9/11 when somebody calls and says, Turn on the TV! Word just sort of spread by people calling each other. Out north where I was living, [Oswald’s] ex-wife was taken in by some Russian couple that lived out there. And we had FBI stationed around the neighborhood.
[The FBI] were just there in case someone tried to do something to her, because she didn’t have anything to do with it [the shooting].