Introduction to the Home Office


Introduction to the "Home Office"

As Gottl continued her editing inside, Gordon Curry drove out of the big, open Lincoln Center parking lot. I was his passenger. We were headed up the Tollway to the far northern suburb of Plano for a meeting at Legacythe first look at the new headquarters for both of us. Curry's title was manager of executive communications, and the business of this trip was a speech. I was in my first year of freelance speechwriting for Penney upper management. Our meeting was to be with Mike Restaino, communications director for Jim Kennedy, former head of the men's merchandising division and now head of the home division. The assignment was a Kennedy presentation to be guided and edited by both Restaino and Currybefore Kennedy then became involved with his own input. [2]

Because of staggered completion schedules for the different buildings in the complex, the home division and some support departments had been among the first to move from Lincoln Center to Legacy. They were not the first to occupy the new edifice, however. Penney's top dozen officers (making up the "management committee") had left the sixth floor of the Aberdeen Building and, along with vans of furniture, accessories, records, and office equipment, made the grand migration to what would become known to some outsiders as the "Golden Crescent."

Curry had a map that had been printed to assist in the transition from North Dallas to Plano. It showed the main routes to Legacy, the gigantic three-story parking garages, and the drive that circled the complex. Instead of driving directly to the garages upon arriving in the corporate park, Curry said, "Let's do a little rubber-necking." He then circled the property. Halfway around, he swung into the special driveway that cut across well-landscaped lawns and passed a large man-made pond with a fountain blowing higher than Old Faithful.

I indicated the building's approaching ceremonial entrance. "Not many corporations have a main entrance fit for occasions of state," I said.

Curry smiled and checked his map. "That's the main rotunda, which has a statue of Mr. Penney. We can say hello to him after the meeting."

From there we circled back around to the garages and parked on the mid level of the south structure, close to the elevator and stairwell. We faced two ways to enter the building: down the stairs or elevator to a long gallery that led into the lower level, or straight ahead across an open walkway (over the gallery). Both ways had views of the terraced gardens that led down to a pool and another fountain blowing almost as high as the one in the fancy front of the complex. Beyond the fountain was a giant patio with tables and chairs fronting an expanse of glass. Again checking his map, Curry said, "Inside the glass is the cafeteria dining room, and there are supposed to be private dining rooms somewhere."

"It's huge," I said.

"Lot of people here, or will be," said Curry. "There will be two cafeteria lines, one at either endnot lines, but clusters, with different kinds of food, or so it says here. Only one open right now."

"This is some layout," I said, looking back at the garages with brick facades and sizable ornamental copper -roofed cupolas at the corners. Then I looked around again at the terraced gardens, the lower-level fountain, and glass-walled cafeteria. As we proceeded inside, neither Curry nor I had known to look above the cafeteria at the most interesting aspect of this elevationsomething we would do with rapt attention within 15 minutes.

[2] This typified Penney's evolved bureaucratic micromanaging process. Interestingly, I later reflected that if a speech assignment was for one of the very highest-ranking executivesGale Duff-Bloom, for example, or the chairman himselfCurry was able to simply dispatch me to direct one-on-one meetings with the speaker. Guess which process usually resulted in the best speeches.




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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