Enter: The Isaacs Brothers

Earl Sams did not officially become president until 1917, but with Penney's blessing he actually ran the company from the time of Berta's collapse in 1910. It was a job he had for the next 40 years . Once Penney more or less recovered from losing Berta, he belatedly followed Sams's advice and spent his time on issues and ideasand on his once primary retailing interest: trying to keep the company's buying absolutely on top of the market.

1911. A major issue for Penney and Sams was incorporation of the stores. Anothersince the name "Golden Rule" was not proprietarywas changing the company name to Penney's own. A third was major financing, a nettlesome problem. Only Eastern banks were capable of extending the lines of credit required for greater expansion. But they looked cross-eyed at the company's offbeat organization (disregarding Penney's sterling credit). The J. C. Penney Company was incorporated, yes, but there were so many classes of stock and different stipulations that the net effect remained an amalgamation of partnerships.

1913. One day in New York's garment district , Penney sat down with Moe Isaacs, [3] a wealthy supplier and business friend. These were two careful and strategic men. They also had high regard for each other's abilities and integrity.

"Making any progress on your paper?" Isaacs wondered.

Penney sighed and said, "Afraid not. The bankers here still have their doubts about the way we're organized." He smiled. "I think they detect a certain wildness of Western freedom."

"Mr. Penney, I have the highest regard for you and your company. I will buy your paper, then, my brother and I."

" What? " Penney laughed incredulously.

Isaacs grinned and wagged a finger. "And, with our lead, just watch. Markwell & Springer will start accepting your notes as well. Then, if you will only do two things, I guarantee you will be able to get all the money you want and you will never have occasion to have a sleepless night."

"Two things?" "One, simplify your corporate structureabout which we will be happy to advise ."

"And the second?"

"Move here, to New York City."

" What? " Penney laughed again. "New York? Come now, Mr. Isaacs. Why, we don't have a single store east of the Mississippi."

"Not yet, my friend. But you will. And believe me, with a new statement and a New York office, just watch how the banks here will swing open their doors for you. To say nothing about better buying and shipping."

[3] One of the unflattering oddities of the Penney Company was that it never employed a single Jew until Mil Batten hired Jack Behrend in 1963 to run Penney's Treasury discount stores. This was despite the Isaacs brothers' help.

Celebration of Fools. An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
ISBN: 0814471595
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 177
Authors: Bill Hare

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