Joe Ursuy is Senior Vice President, Department Manager and founder of Comerica Bank’s Environmental Services Department. His commercial lending team has bankers and staff located in Detroit, Dallas and San Jose with total assets under management exceeding $2 billion. His responsibilities include managing high growth through exceptional talent management, asset quality and through strategic client selection.
Clients include waste management, recycling and waste-to-energy businesses located throughout the US and Canada. Under Ursuy’s leadership, Comerica’s environmental services team supports a national platform focused on profitably growing its commercial loan assets, involving key internal partners, and serving as trusted advisors through extensive industry knowledge coupled with a relationship banking approach.
Prior to founding the Environmental Services Group in 2006, Ursuy held various positions in Comerica’s Middle Market Banking Department after starting as a Credit Analyst in 1998. The 22-year veteran in the financial services industry serves on Comerica’s Michigan Leadership Team.
John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast. Today I am so excited and honored to have with me, my friend Joe Ursuy. He is the Senior Vice President of Department Manager and Founder of Comerica’s Environmental Services Department. Joe, that is a long title I know but thank you for being here today.
Joe Ursuy: John, it’s an honor to be here. Thanks for inviting me and I am really looking forward to spending some time together.
John: Joe, I am just going to share with the listener’s way up front here at the top of the show. You are not only a good friend of 13-plus years. You are also the banker of ERI, which is the company that I am lucky enough to be the Executive Chairman of and I just want to say both, thank you for the friendship, thank you for banking us all these years. But I wanted our listeners to know that I have asked Joe for years to come on and I am just really honored for him during this crazy COVID-19 tragic period that we both had some time to catch up together. And I wanted our listeners really to learn about all the important work that you and the folks that run your division with you, underneath you, your colleagues, all the impactful and important work you guys are doing. So this is a real honor for me and a privilege that you are here today.
Joe: Thanks, John lots of banks could and would Bank your company. I am just proud to be a partner and a friend and looking forward to sharing some of the things we have going on today.
John: Yes, so let us get into the Joe Ursay story, so talk a little bit about growing up in Michigan where you went to the college and the beginning of your banking journey.
Joe: Sure, I grew up in mid-Michigan and a blue-collar background. My dad worked at Auto Company and my mom was a secretary and she ran the church choir, played the piano and I went to school there and did my undergrad at Northwood University in Midland, Michigan. It is a private business school and I started at the bank in 1998 in our credit analyst program and during that the time I was a Credit Analyst for a couple years. I did my MBA at University Detroit in Michigan and progressed through the lending ranks at Comerica from there.
John: Joe when you were growing up as you said blue collar, which is how I grew up as well. Was this something you aspire to or what were your dreams growing up? Was it to be a banker or did you have other outside interests in terms of your professional career path?
Joe: It is a great question. I never knew I would work at a bank and I got okay grades in high school, very good grades in college in Economics. And I went to a job fair and stumble across Comerica and gave them my resume and they said, “Come in for an interview/” And yes, anybody that knows me knows I really do not like being late I am very prompt. I am nervous about being on time and I was late to my job interview that day because I was traveling down to downtown Detroit which I had been to very much. I grew up kind of in the country–
Joe: I was using Map Quest and I got lost. And I remember there were no cell phones back then or they were just starting to come out. So I pulled up to a gas station pay phone, I called the contact in HR and she said, “It is okay, Joe I understand, why do not you turn around.” And she gave me directions and I showed up for my interview at the bank. And I actually was interviewing for the wrong position, and she said, “You have pretty good qualifications; you should go to this, quite a training program.” And so, the rest is history. They gave me a shot and that was it and I never knew I was going to be in banking growing up.
John: So now you start your journey as a Credit Analyst and when was the moment that you realize that you could do this, you could stay there longer and evolve there and do other things?
Joe: It was probably, we went through the credit program and I was always a hard worker and I did a good job and I got hired into a Generalist Middle Market Lending Group in Detroit as a Junior Banker after I got done with the analyst program. I went through Middle Market, I went through real estate and they hired me back in a Middle Market because they liked me. And when you become a Junior Banker, you finally get some clients and I was handed a portfolio of clients about 15 customers, just a smattering of different industries, Automotive Manufacturing, there was actually a cemetery in there, Distributors, Industrial Companies and there were two Waste Management Companies.
Joe: And I quickly figured out that the way to be successful at the bank was to bring in revenue and that is how you can make a little bit of money. And so, I started to try to bring in clients and being in Detroit it is heavy industrial, automotive manufacturing. And at that time all of our Executives were in Detroit and being a 22 year old young Banker, meeting with entrepreneurs who have been around the block it was very difficult to crack in to that industry. There was just so much so much competition. There were so many people in the market calling on these companies. They knew my boss; they knew my boss’ boss etc. So I looked at these couple waste management businesses and I said, “Well, I wonder what this industry is all about, maybe I can learn about this and yes grow this industry.” And so I started to really talk to those clients, they had a lot, learn or business, subscribe to all the trade publications, calling everybody in the industry, just really studying that business. And then one of those clients referred me to their friend and we brought that customer in and when that started happening and that started happening a lot is when I realized that I really stumbled into something, where I could build a business.
John: So now wait a second, most people who think about a large corporation like a Comerica Banking Organization or for that instance or a Goldman Sachs or another type of financial institution. They think pretty much you get a job there and you work your way up the ladder, but in 2006 you created a unique paradigm. You started the Environmental Services Group there with the knowledge base that you had built up on this way sector. Is that not correct?
Joe: That is correct. Yes, we started with about twenty million of loans and then to word-of-mouth referrals and doing everything I just said and then bringing in a couple of really strong bankers to help me along the way. And a lot of luck we grew that up to three or four hundred million dollars of loans, still being in a general middle-market group. And my boss and mentor, Mike Ritchie who is always been very supportive, sponsored me, “We can build up national business out of this platform. Let us make Joe a Manager. Let us form the Specialty Group and see what happens.”
John: So really you were doing the homework while you were building your portfolio and gathering all the information on the Waste Sector which had not been heavily covered by Comerica before. And you literally became almost an entrepreneur in residence or an entrepreneur, as a lot of other business professors would call. You became an entrepreneur inside of Comerica because you launched basically a division that never had existed before.
Joe: That is correct. And the bank was very supportive and anyone who knows Comerica, it is a very strong commercial lending business and it is a plain vanilla bank. It is a beautiful business and it is fairly conservative. So, they had a lot of confidence in me that at that young age, I knew what I was doing, I knew what I was talking about even though, looking back 15, 20 years later, I probably did not. And so, I gave the bank a lot of credit for supporting me and in setting up this platform and the growth has been fantastic but we have had our challenges along the way and we have learned from them and been blessed to really have good people on the team to help grow the business.
John: We are going to go through the journey, was a journey is always exciting and interesting and overcoming hurdles are some of the best stories but share a little bit about fast forward to 2020. How big is your division now?
Joe: Fast-forwarding to today, we have roughly it changes every day about two billion dollars of commitments to the Environmental Services industry, which for us is Waste Management Companies, Recycling Businesses or Waste to Energy Companies, Renewable Energy Businesses, Industrial Waste Company. So that is our platform, we have bankers in Detroit, Michigan Dallas, Texas and San Jose California and we have about 21, 22 people dedicated to the team, we have our own credit people dedicated to supporting my department. And so it has been a really nice growth business not hyper growth, we have been very, very slow steady 10 percentage type growth over 15 these years and here we are today.
John: Joe, you are very humble. You say slow steady, but you went from just a great idea and a couple of clients in 2006 to 2 billion dollars. And anyone who understands business and commerce that is fairly remarkable and quite amazing and what an accomplishment. For our listeners who just joined us, we have got Joe Ursuy today from Comerica Bank, he is my friend, he is my banker and he is also the leader of the Environmental Services Department, the Senior Vice Department manager and if you need to find Joe, A. he is on LinkedIn and B. you could always go to Comerica.com, C-O-M-E-R-I-C-A.com and find Joe and his colleagues that do the Environmental Services lending there. Joe, that is why I wanted to have you on Impact because I know you have been so kind enough and generous to introduce me to so many of your portfolio brands over the years, over shared dinners or lunches or just in other social settings. And I am always fascinated by the tremendous group of individuals, entrepreneurs who have you funded over the years and have promoted in terms of their business growth. All these companies have made generous impact in their local community some on a national level. I would love you to go into some of your favorite sectors that you cover besides Waste and Recycling and Energy and some of the brands that your portfolio companies represent and why you bank them and why you are so excited about the sector that you are in.
Joe: Yes, we lend to we think the premier run-operated, sustainability-focused waste and recycling companies in North America. And if you look at a list there is some public companies at the top, there is some really small companies at the bottom, everybody in the middle a lot of those our clients and a lot of them we found them when they were much smaller and not what they are today, and we have helped them grow their business and be successful. Just a small part of it, obviously they are doing the hard work and then we are their partner along that journey. When I started the business 20 years ago, there was no real lender focusing on helping small or middle-market waste and recycling companies really grow their business. And the industry is very fragmented, there are lots of really small companies, there are few very large public companies, there is everybody in between. Back then, there were a couple large banks they were focused on the larger companies, but nobody was really focused on the Middle Market companies. And I think that is the industry that we really helped take to another level. We helped those companies grow, those owners who had aspirations but could not get the capital to do that acquisition or bid on that large contract. And in early 2000s when we got into it we found those people and a lot of them, most of them are still our clients today. They have built up businesses, they have kept them or they have built them and sold them and then built another business. And if you talk about the who is who of running, large, active, privately-owned growing companies in that sector many of them are our customers and we are very proud of them.
John: And you cover besides waste, you cover recycling obviously because you cover our company and other responsible recyclers, you also cover energy and other sectors as well.
Joe: We do. We really started and accredit one of my managers, Matt Bright for really digging into this industry landfill gas to energy which is a renewable energy form. And we did our first deal on that space in 2008 or 2009, so we have been doing it for about a dozen years now. We are the renewable gas coalition; we are the only commercial bank that is really focused on that sector. And that is a beautiful business but it is a cash flow business, it is long-term agreements at the landfills for the methane gas, which is very harmful for the environment as we all know. They convert that either into electricity or into pipeline quality natural gas and sell it to utilities primarily under a very long term typically 20-year power purchase agreements and we financed the construction of those facilities; we finance the acquisition of those facilities. And that business is very interesting and really the whole industry that we cover, you would think about what we do. Now there is really something going on in the newspaper every day that impacts a part of our business whether it is energy prices, natural gas prices how that impacts the renewable gasoline prices, commodity prices how that impacts recycling, even what is going on right now with coronavirus. There is a decrease in commercial waste volume. There is an increase in Residential Waste volumes.
Joe: Things like cardboard has been languishing over the last couple of years, over the past couple month’s cardboard has really spiked up due to some supply and demand imbalances. The business is a simple business, but it is a fascinating business to follow and to learn more about.
John: Joe I have met so many of the entrepreneurs that you have bet on and they are not only nice people and smart people but they are truly the epitome of the American dream. They roll up their sleeves, they do the hard work, and they know their business inside and out. When you and your team are assessing entrepreneurs and businesses to bet on, where do things fall out or is it all black and white the numbers is it your emotional intelligence and read on the entrepreneur? In essence it is like going to the racetrack and you are betting big, are you betting on the jockey or the horse? And explain the math that you do and your team does when you are placing your bets.
Joe: It is a great question. And some of it is a gut feeling over time about people sometimes when we are evaluating the numbers speak for themselves. But even when the numbers speak for themselves, sort of my little teams rule is we kind of have the no jerk rule. We just do not want to do business with jerks and we want to do business where if we do a good job, our clients will reward us and they expect a lot of us. So really for us when we are looking at people, a lot of our business is word-of-mouth. And so most of the time when we are talking to somebody, one of our clients is vouching for them not all the time, but many times it is. If not, we are looking at people’s background; we look at how they answer simple questions. Can you have a conversation with them? When you are done with the meeting, so you understand what was said? Do you understand the answers? Does their strategy make sense to us? Are they thinking about their business the right way? What is their opinion on leverage and debt? What is their risk tolerance? So there is a lot of different questions that we can have just over a conversation with somebody where we can learn a lot about them. And typically when we go out and meet with people, we will spend quite a bit of time with them. We will spend a full day with them; we will tour all their operations and spend a lot of time in a car together. We will learn a lot about their family and they will learn a lot about us, their goals, what they want to achieve with the business. And usually that stuff lines up really well and with all of our clients that does and so that is really how we evaluate it, John.
John: Hmm, that is really interesting. Do you think you understand an entrepreneur’s mindset more than most bankers because you really are yourself an entrepreneur in residence at Comerica in many ways?
Joe: I do not know. I think that some of the stories we hear from our clients it is the old thing about, there was no plan B. And there was no plan B for me, whatever I was going to do I had to be successful at it. I could not go back anywhere there was no fallback. And a lot of the guys we lend to and our clients, they grew up on the back of a garbage truck, they did the worst job. And some of them went to college, some of them did not go to college but some of them are extremely sharp and sophisticated and really know their businesses. So I do not know if it helps me, but when I hear stories about how people grew up, and a lot of our clients are really blue collar people and that resonates with me and a lot of my team are the same way. And those are the people we really want to go the extra mile and help because we know they are all in.
John: Talk a little bit about, you mentioned earlier you’re a blue collar guy. And you said to me first when I met you 13 years ago with your team with Matt and Ian and so many of your other great colleagues that I have come to become good friends with and feel like family with after all this time that you guys used to jokingly call yourselves the blue-collar bankers, But when you go out and you meet with new potential clients, what is your value proposition, what is your pitch?
Joe: Yes, I think that we want them to feel like we are on their side and we understand their goals, we are a relationship bank and we are working to create wealth for them, not for us, for them. And that is really the overall mindset, is that we are willing to work very hard just like they are and we are going to understand their business as well as anybody. And we are going to understand their goals and what they want to achieve and we can help them with lots of things. So I say it is a combination of an old-school relationship banking, a couple of the pretty deep industry knowledge of their business. And the value-add side it is a lot of different things, what is going on in the industry, being able to ask good questions, introducing people. We have made a lot of introductions over the years it resulted in many opportunities and a win-win for our clients and prospect resources that we have. We have experts in all areas that really know our clients’ business just as good as we do, financial due diligence, Legal Help, Accounting, HR, finding people, finding CFOs and then finally just bench-marking information. We just had a client the other day say, my SG and A as a percentage of revenue is X, what are you seeing for my industry, for my size of company and we can kind of look around and say, “That is within this range.” So with the portfolio that we have, that is the type of value that we can bring to our clients.
John: Talk about your commitment to service to your clients. I have worked with a lot of bankers over the years, Joe and service level of your team is second to none. I have told you this before and I will say it again publicly while I am the majority shareholder of ERI and the Executive Chairman, we would never change banks because I have never seen a group give the kind of service your team does. How do you create a culture of service and a culture that replicates your No Jerk Rule and ensures that as you have grown your team from literally zero from just you and a good idea that Mike Ritchie approved, to this large national team now that you have, that you have curated and now manage about two billion dollars. How do you create that culture and how do you always put service first? How do you instill that on your team?
Joe: Yes, that is really all we have. At the end of the day there are lots of banks and there is lot of bankers and there is a lot of money flying around and ultimately its people, its relationships and its quality of service and it is a simple business. And so, our team of bankers is staffed to whereby, a lot of bankers handling even in middle-market groups, 20 to 30 clients and we are substantially lower than that in my department. And part of it is because we travel so much, logistics make it a little difficult. The other part of it is because we were staffed to grow our business, the bank really wants to grow the business and so do we. And the other part of it is because all we have is service. And the type of things that our clients want to talk about and they want to learn about or they want that extra white glove treatment, they take time. So we staff are bankers to whereby they can do that. And then the culture is really a teamwork culture and when we look to hire people particularly and it is may be overly simplistic, but I like people who are competitive and I like people who have sold something in their life, and it might be selling popsicles when they were 15, 10 years old I do not care. But if you compete and you want to win and you can sell then we are probably going to like you on the team. And we have never least in my department I am speaking of; we have not hired anybody from outside the bank which is pretty unusual. It is all homegrown people here and the managers, myself, Matt Brighty and Berns over 20 years of experience just to Comerica. Our average banker relationship manager over 13 years of experience just to Comerica, all homegrown culture of teamwork, culture of bringing each other up and I am really proud to say that we have never lost a banker to a competing bank in my 20 years of doing this. And three of our bankers went on to be our CFOs at clients and other one is VP of Business Development at another client, so they were hired by our clients.
Joe: But our culture is, one of being fair, rewarding people, and taking care of our clients. And it is homegrown and it is just the way we have done it does not mean it is right and as we get bigger, it may change but it has work thus far.
John: For our listeners who just joined us, we have got Joe Ursuy today. He is the Senior Vice-President Department Manager of Environmental Services at Comerica Bank and to find Joe at Comerica Bank. You just go to www.comericabank.com or you could hit Joe up over LinkedIn if you are interested in having him or his colleagues. Look at your company to be banked by them, Joe is out there and he is very reachable. We are going through this COVID-19 tragic period in world history right now, Joe. When things are good everybody is in a good mood and of course life is pretty easy from a business perspective, from an entrepreneur’s perspective. But really when things get rough you really realize who is on your side, which is going to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work and the heavy lifting with you. Your team has been just beyond amazing during this very difficult period just speaking personally with regards to our company, ERI. I would love you to share your thoughts on relationship management through both these unprecedented times or other economic downturns that your division has faced before.
Joe: It is a great question, very topical where we are at in today’s environment. And going back to Comerica Bank and being headquartered in Detroit for a very long time, it is in Dallas now, the heart of the automotive industry, the automotive industry for a hundred years has been cyclical and we have been a part of that. So it is always kind of been in the bank’s DNA to understand that there is going to be hiccups, there is things that go wrong and we are going to sit down face-to-face and we are going to come up with a shared solution to get through whatever problem that we are facing, so our clients trust us to be fair. In Environmental Services, we have been doing this for over 20 years, now we are on our third recession unfortunately, it does happen.
Joe: And the bank as I would call institutional knowledge of my industry. It is not one guy or gal making a few loans off the side of his or her desk and somebody finds out about it one day when something goes wrong and they just want to exit and it is too bad for that client or those couple clients. We have a business here, we have infrastructure, we have our own card up policy, and we have credit people. Everybody all the way up through our chain of command knows what we are doing really well and so we are committed to the industry in good times in tough times. And we have a lot of clients that face the same challenges. So a lot of the issues facing the industry right now, we hear the same story and frankly in some areas of the country, it is much better than other areas that are hit a little bit harder. And then I think that because we know the value that our clients have in their business and because we have such a big view of the industry and we have a lot of information, we can view this as maybe a blip or other people might view it as being more major. And so we can help our clients especially during this time take advantage of growth opportunities. We want to grow our business at the bank and we want them to help them grow their business and maybe there is a competitor that maybe falling on some tough times that they can buy for a good price or a company is struggling with a contract, maybe they can take that. And we want our clients to have the confidence that their bank knows their business and has a capital behind them to whereby they can take advantage and grow their business during a rocky environment like we are now.
John: Talk a little bit about visibility. No one has a perfect crystal ball. So many publicly traded firms have even stopped giving any forecast and guidance for the rest of this year. With good reason, what is your thoughts on two things, Joe both on the general economy as we start to I am saying recover from COVID-19 and also in your sector, are you bullish on your sector and the growth of your sector in the months and years ahead?
Joe: In terms of my sector and what we are seeing from our clients and our perspective clients, we are feeling really good. We feel really good about the portfolio and we read research reports from the equity analyst and second half of March it slow down, middle of April seem like a trough in terms of our clients commercial activity and then a lot of people are saying every week it is a little bit better as State has open up, businesses open up. And then hearing about some of the results and revenue numbers coming in for April and some verbal May numbers, I feel really, really good about the Environmental Services’ business that I manage. And there are lots of other things going on, there are positives that are happening with fuel and commodity pricing in some regards. Obviously some of these commercial establishments may never come back which is terribly unfortunate.
Joe: But if you believe in America long-term, like we do somebody will open up a restaurant in the spot that the other restaurant closed in and that is just the way it goes. So I am I am always bullish long-term, having been through the Great Recession and managing through our business during that time. I think it gave me and the team a lot of tools to manage the portfolio is really good training for this. And that but in terms of the sharp, how fast this happen it is truly unprecedented. So long term, we will see there is 40 some odd million people that are unemployed, which is extremely scary, but in terms of my business right now I feel really good.
John: You bet big you bet big, Joe on environmental services and sustainability before it became a big thing. It seems from what I have seen in our company, but you also just from your portfolio growth that the circular economy trends and sustainability revolution and evolution is here to stay. On a macro basis, you feel good about that as well, the growth of circular economy behavior, which is only going to drive more companies to be greener and do more recycling, more clean energy and be better stewards with the environment.
Joe: We really do. In fact, that is something that we want to do more of. We really want to grow in that business. And I think you read the article I do not know it was last week that I think there was more renewable power consumed than coal whether it was last month or last year. And so that is here to stay and we want to find the economically viable, the bankable business models in that segment and we found some and there are clients, we want to find more. And then on the recycling side that business because of what China did with a China sword a couple years ago.
Joe: That actually is a blessing for the domestic recycling industry because that model where the commodity risk was really on the recycling business or the processor, whatever word you want to use, that was not sustainable. So when commodities dropped, when China basically cut off imports or cut the contamination levels from 5% to 0.5% which nobody could hit. It flooded the domestic market with materials, prices plunged, and a lot of recycling businesses that had too much of exposure to the commodity suffered greatly. Now what you are seeing over the past couple of years and the public companies have been leaders and a lot of private companies are doing a great job, too is it is okay. You want to recycle, we want to help you. Pay me more of a cost-plus type thing, right, all right. I am going to give you the commodity upside, the supplier or the commodity you are going to get more of the upside and I just want a little bit of the upside, but I want to make sure my cost get covered. That is a much more sustainable economic model for that industry and then corresponding to that, it is way more bankable business now. And so what China did and that plunge which was a short-term pain, long-term is great for that business. So, we have talked about it, we are gearing up, we are members of the renewable natural gas coalition. We are meeting all the centers of influence in that sector, we know many of them, but we are looking for really good business else that actually generate cash bankable businesses and we want to help those people grow.
John: Got it. Joe, there is a lot of young people that listen to this podcast; I know you have two young men growing up in your house as well. What advice would you give for the next generation coming behind you? In terms of career advice, is it to go your way, get an MBA like you did and go into banking or something like that, or you have had such a unique peek into so many companies and how they go and businesses and great enterprises across the United States and Canada or do you say, “Hey, go be an entrepreneur and here is where I would focus.” What is your guidance for the next generation coming up behind us?
Joe: With my boys, I am not sure if they are listening, so I will tell them the opposite. Whatever I say, I will say the opposite and they will do what they want to do. But now it is a great question and, I always tell my boys that I got really lucky, I did not really know what I want to do. I knew that I was going to work really hard. But I kind of lucked into a job at the bank as I described being late for my interview and then applying for the wrong position. And then I kind of got this portfolio and really struggled bringing in business and I found a way to this industry, maybe I can help these people. So I always say keep your eyes open and I actually found something I loved and banking is a term but I love helping people achieve their goals. And some of our longest customer’s very personal friends of mine and banking I think where the younger generation may be a negative connotation, but we do a tremendous amount of good and we have created a lot of wealth for a lot of people including job creation.
Joe: These companies that we have had over the years, they are creating value, they are creating jobs and they are building facilities. They are building recycling plants. They are starting companies. They are selling companies. They are starting a new business. So that is the fun part for me is that we have great clients, good people to see them succeed. And then we also get the meet because we visit them a lot, we meet their front line management team a lot, we see the activity and see that industry that middle-market waste recycling, waste to energy business that we kind of helped grow and start funding that 20 years ago, to see all those jobs and all those people and the families and the ripple effect of that all over the country that we played a small part in, it is really, really a fantastic feeling it really is. So, I love my job and for a lot of people would not want to be a banker but find something you love and then you will adage, you will never work a day in your life.
John: That is a great attitude, Joe that had just become old adages for good reason because they are typically really, really time-tested and true. And I love what you said Joe because it is really true. People do not understand, it is easy to throw rocks at certain industries and politicians do it all the time just to try to get on TV because they are desperate for airtime or something of that nature, but the truth of the matter is without bankers like you and your team that are funding the Innovation Nation, that makes us such a great country. We would be nowhere. What our entrepreneurs going to do. It is not easy to go out and raise equity capital every quarter or every year or every five years even. So to have bankers like you that see value that sees trends that take the time to understand industries is such an important role in the ecosystem of the innovation nation that we both have been lucky to have been born in. I know you are a big Sports guy and so am I, and we get to visit all the time and use sports analogies and things of that such and before we say goodbye, I am going to leave you with one. I want to just have some of your thoughts where Michael Jordan during this ESPN ran that Michael Jordan biography, a 10-week biography of Jordan recently and the 8th episode ended with him talking about his thoughts on winning and leadership. And you are both a winner Joe and you are leader. And I would love your thoughts on his thoughts at the end of that episode. He got emotional and he said, “Winning has a price and leadership has a price.” What does that mean to you and what you have created in your very young life and young career still because you are still very young at Comerica Bank?
Joe: Yes, that was a great episode and I personally thought that should have been the ending of episode 10.
Joe: And that was a really great documentary and I love even though I was a huge Pistons fan, I was always hugely respected Jordan. And I think that his competitive fire is something that is very valuable and we have talked about that and really in my world when you are the captain of the ship, every problem is your problem and when you are a banker you have your portfolio and you kind of mind your own business and when your leader you take responsibility and you coach, hold people accountable. I think we have a very robust coaching and feedback environment on our team, Matt Brighty and Berns are very good at that, brighter than I am. But the price that I paid was as I mentioned, there was no plan B for me, so I have had a lot of sleepless nights the in early years, we were writing a credit policy. And I knew that the first several deals that I did in this sector had to work out and if I did one that did not work out, it would have been over. And that is a lot of pressure and especially when you are getting into a new business inside of a company, everybody has got their eyes on you and I made mistakes, I made a lot of mistakes. I did some really bad deals and the bank stood by me and that loyalty that was created there was huge and as I mentioned my boss and mentor Mike Ritchie, has always stayed by me. So, yes that to me is very important and that is what I try to learn from those around, that is what I try to show the people that if people are high integrity, high character, they are working as hard as they can, and they make an honest mistake because Lord knows I made many. I am going to support them. I am going to support them and if they need coaching or a little constructive criticism, we are going to pull them in privately and the success of the team is their successes, they are not my successes. Their successes, they are the ones out there working really hard on the airplanes, calling a company, taking great care of their clients, handling the whole relationship, I am just steering the ship for them but they are making that thing run. So I cannot say enough about the team that we are really blessed to have a team like that to be able to put up these results over so many years.
John: Well, Joe I just want to say thank you for your friendship over the last 13 years. I have learned so much from you. I have learned so much from your team. And we have just been honored to and privilege to be banked by your company. Comerica is a great Bank; you run a great, great division there. For our listeners out there if you are interested in finding Joe, he is on LinkedIn and of course, you could find Joe at www.comericabank.com. If you want a relationship with a bank that is client obsessed on service and relationships, Joe and his team is the right team for you. Joe thanks for your time today, the impact you have made in America in terms of the environment, in terms of making the world a better place is second to none and I just want to say thank you for joining us today on the Impact Podcast.
Joe: John. Thanks for having me, much appreciated.