By Graziella DiNuzzo
I sat down with Stephen Anderson, Founder of Marquis Advisory Group and newest member of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, to learn more about his history and how Marquis came into existence.
In October 1961, you were able to walk into The New York Times lobby on 43rd street in Manhattan and ask for directions to the Human Resources Department. And over the Christmas holiday, when you were at home in Jamestown, New York with your parents, you received a telegram asking you to report to work as a journalist in training.
How did you manage that?
"I am not sure. My journalism experience was limited to my college newspaper and The Chautauqua Daily, a paper of Chautauqua Institution in western New York State. Once at the Times my part was not important. What I could do now was on-the-job training that was semi-structured, informal, but with great mentors."
So, what made you want to be a journalist?
"My great uncle laid the idea in my mind. He was a lawyer, but never talked to me about law. His favorite recollections were about being a young journalist for the Jamestown Post Journal in Jamestown, New York, where we lived, and a free-lance journalist for the Canadian Pacific news. Great stories, including being sent to Panama to report on the unfinished Panama Canal. He was maybe 20 years old."
It's certain that curiosity to find the truth and the courage to tell it are in Anderson's blood.
"After working at the Times for three years, the Guild, the journalist's union, went on strike. McGraw-Hill, the publishing company on 42nd street at the time, was hiring. I landed a job there, assigned to covering emerging technologies, like Xerox, RCA, and others like TelePrompter. In one article I compared TelePrompter and Lear, who were competing in the reel-to-reel tape cartridge player for automobiles. Inadvertently my article suggested an alternative strategy for the auto display target. A few days later, TelePrompter asked if I would join their division responsible for the tape player. And my wife and I moved from Manhattan to Southern New Jersey. "
Following his position at TelePrompter, Anderson held executive management positions which two Fortune 500 companies based in Philadelphia, (ESB Incorporated and Westmoreland Coal Company) both of whom have subsequently been acquired. His roles in both organizations were working with senior management on strategy and increasing share price.
"ESB had global reach, manufacturing and recognized brands in Ray-O-Vac and Exide batteries. But in the 1970s batteries were not exciting to the investment community. We focused on the future. Developed battery powered cars and buses and tested them for two years. We got the attention of Polaroid and developed the battery imbedded in every Polaroid film pack. We focused on the application of batteries for the medical market, and it worked. ESB was purchased by a Canadian company for a price per share significantly greater than market."
It was with Westmoreland where Anderson was most challenged.
"I was asked to come in and help with their share price. But in order to do that I saw they needed a lot of changes internally. Fortunately, I had the backing of the Chairman. Traditional labor practices with the United Mine Workers were a problem. Changing the management tradition of an established industry gave resistance."
Anderson also helped Westmoreland start a mobile book program with West Virginia's library to bring books to children and adults, and reading programs to isolated villages. He also helped facilitate Westmoreland grants to West Virginia colleges and universities for environmental research, and also sponsored morning children's TV shows in regions where Westmoreland had employees in Virginia, West Virginia, Colorado, and Montana.