By Chaney Barton-Nichols, Marketing Assistant
“I remember the days when we’d have to walk down the street to the bike shop to use their fax machine.” This is one of the favorite stories that is told often (usually to the “new guy”) around the office. You have probably heard by now that Lucien, Stirling & Gray is celebrating 25 years of service in 2017, and we’re excited about it. In case you were wondering, no, we’re no longer walking down to the neighborhood bike shop to send business faxes anymore. The way we conduct business day-to-day looks a lot different from how it looked in 1992. The unique part is that a lot of the same people have seen it through, though.
Around here, we are a pretty tight knit group. Between our five advisors, the average number of years with Lucien, Stirling & Gray is 19. They have seen the company grow and change. Although we talk about this frequently, it’s because we truly believe it is a trait that makes us unique. This month, to celebrate our 25 years, I asked some of the folks who have been here for over 10 years to share how their day-to-day has changed over time.
While it may seem that being the President of a company is glamorous, it’s rarely the case at the very beginning. Thomas reflects on a time when his Sunday afternoons were spent here at the office in rubber gloves with a can of Lysol and his personal vacuum cleaner, cleaning before the start of each week. He recalls being particularly grateful when there was room in the budget, finally, for a professional cleaning service.
Cass Grange joined Lucien, Stirling in Gray in 1995 after an interview with Thomas, whom Cass says looked about 19 years old. The perks were, at the time, a box of business cards and Thomas’s promise to teach Cass what he had learned in his ten years of business so that she would not make the same mistakes. After working together for fourteen months, Cass revealed to Thomas that she and her husband were expecting their second child – the first child was only four months old and present on Cass’s lap at that meeting.
Cass remembers, “To his credit, Thomas took a deep breath and told me he was investing in me and my career for the long term. He said that someday these babies would become more independent at about exactly the time my career would be busier and more fulfilling. I couldn’t quite see the future as clearly as he did. But indeed, the babies did become more independent and my career has become more fulfilling and rewarding than I could envision at the time. And, Thomas doesn’t look like he is 19 anymore and neither does my twenty-year old baby. But I still look like I did in 1993, or at least that is my story and I’m sticking to it!”
Megan Poore joined the firm 15 years ago. At the time, there was one computer with internet access that was shared by all advisors. Shortly after that, each advisor received their own computer with internet access – which was a big deal!
If you’re familiar with our location, you know that we’re located across Guadalupe Street from the Austin State Hospital. Our house, the “John Rutledge House,” was once an outpatient facility for Austin State Hospital shortly before we began to occupy it. In the early years of Stubb’s barbeque, back when they were busy marketing their barbeque sauce, they occupied our third floor. Thomas even had the pleasure of meeting Mr. “Stubb” himself. During that time, the first floor was largely occupied by an insurance company. A particularly noxious combination of aromas of buttered popcorn and stogie fumes would float up to the second floor where we primarily conducted business – now it seems amusing.
In 1992, our earliest year, the high for the S&P 500 was 442.65. As of close of business yesterday, the S&P 500 was at 2,390.90. Stock market headlines in early 1992 seemed bleak and frequently noted “slow growth,” despite that in January 1992, all three major market averages hit all-time highs for five straight days. This recently happened for the first time again, twenty-five years later, in February of 2017 (read more here).
This excerpt came from New York Magazine in February of 1992: “If the economy doesn’t quickly snap out of its lethargy and begin to grow respectably, the stock market could get whacked.” As you can see, since 1992, the S&P 500 has increased five-fold, and that’s without including the power of reinvested dividends. An important takeaway from this is one we frequently bring up – it’s important to think long-term.
At Lucien, Stirling & Gray, the way that we conduct business day-to-day has changed, but our philosophy has remained the same: Planning, patience, and faith in the future is our investment mantra. We were founded on long-term philosophies and feel we are successful mainly for that reason. We cannot wait to see what the next twenty-five years holds!