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Archive for the month “April, 2019”

Always remember…who?

Crocker-Wells-Fargo-Merger-Poster-1986

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It was 1986.

Back in 1986, mergers that eliminated huge swaths of the acquired company were still uncommon.

When an employee of an acquired company got laid off in 1986, there was huge shock that such a thing could ever happen.

And back in 1986, people would go to their local bank branch to do business with their bank.

While we were starting to see the ability for a bank customer to take an ATM card to another branch across town, or even on the other side of the state, people still associated “banking” with going to a physical location. Example: when I moved to California, I started banking with Wells Fargo because it had a branch near my apartment. I felt very strange when that branch closed, and I had to go to a branch in a grocery store. I no longer bank with Wells Fargo, but things have come full circle, and Wells Fargo now has a branch a couple of hundred feet south of its original branch by my old 1980s apartment.

Speaking of Wells Fargo, it acquired another bank in 1986 – Crocker National Bank. And yes, the move clearly had effects on employees. However, the unified Wells Fargo had another pressing concern – how would Wells Fargo get former Crocker National Bank customers to keep going to their local bank branch, now that it had a funny name and a stagecoach on the front of the building?

Wells Fargo had a solution – the elevation of Charles Crocker to business sainthood.

Wells Fargo commercials suddenly touted the accomplishments of TWO nineteenth century businessmen – Henry Wells and Charles Crocker. They were always cited in that order, but Crocker was always cited.

For a time.

But after a while, after the memories of former Crocker National Bank customers had faded a bit, the advertising campaign stopped, and Charles Crocker receded from public view. So much so that I was unable to locate a Henry Wells & Charles Crocker advertisement to include in this post.

Things have changed a bit. We’ve gotten used to the fact that an acquisition results in dislocation, and the notion of company loyalty that still prevailed in the 1980s has faded along with that realization.

But every acquisition includes transition planning.

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