Sunday, November 16, 2008

Old Pros don't panic

At the end of "Builders Shakeout" in the Nov. 16 Sunday News, veteran Larry Wisdom of Keystone Custom Homes is quoted as follows: "Once you get past all of the gloom and doom, what we're experiencing is a very typical market correction...I've been through four of them, and we will come out of it with companies that are better run - and an industry that's stronger."

The credibility of this statement rests on "I've been through four of them…" There are some things that people must experience before they can be fully grasped. Thus Larry Wisdom, although only speaking of the distressed housing industry, states a truth that applies to our economy as a whole.

There lays the divide between six pessimistic members of the Lancaster Public Library and its then president, Karen Haley Field, and its project manager, Robert Edwin Field, both experienced and accomplished business persons. The six board members cast to the winds over a million and a half dollars out of unsubstantiated fear that a fund raising campaign to just renovate the Duke Street library could not raise $1.3 million.

They decided without even conferring with a single major donor or reaching out to obvious sources of help such as Lancaster General Hospital, even though they had spent tens of thousands for a credible feasibility study that indicated $2.5 million was available for the project!

Extraordinary successes such as Warren Buffet as well as local successes as the above cited Larry Wisdom and Robert Field know how to restrain themselves during periods of economic exuberance and then maximize resources during frantic downturns. They understand that economies have always and will always move through self correcting cycles. They pride themselves on successful leadership. And their companies thrive.

Books about history and economic theory cannot altogether take the place of life experiences and the tempering of time. Before history was reduced to writing, old people were valued as a repository of wisdom, because they could put current events into the perspective of the experience of their and their parent’s generations.

NewsLanc will run a series concerning successful leaders, some on the world scene, others who helped saved their communities, and a few whose successes were hardly noted. It will be entitled "The Old Pros." Hopefully, the series will bring courage to others.