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It was great to see so many AIM colleagues connecting after several months, a year or even longer. From Ivy McLemore who was thrilled to see his former boss, Frank Serebrin to Ann Srubar who caught up with her former supervisor, Janet Luby, hugs abounded.
Brandi Scott has returned to recruiting with Experis. "My tenure at AIM first introduced me to the world of recruiting and after running into an old colleague from those days, I've now joined the very team that placed me in roles that have built my career. As an IT Recruiter for Experis, I'm one of a dozen veteran recruiters who work with clients like ExxonMobil, Lyondell, United Airlines, Halliburton, Schlumberger, SCI, Memorial Hermann, TCH, CenterPoint Energy, and several others seeking IT talent. Even caught up with one of my former AIM IT Boot Campers who is now an IT Director! This is so much fun and the biggest reward is the feeling of joy when my candidates receive a job offer," shares Brandi.
I'm thrilled there continues to be more AIM Alumni attending (the happy hours). It's truly special to be part of such a unique group.
Neil Thomas is seeking new opportunities in the world of IT. He shares that after several years operating Buffalo Paint in the Bellaire/Meyerland area, he is selling the business.
Robert Humes started with AIM in October of 1997, just prior to the rollout of the Slash & Burn Project. For those of you who don't remember that project, Robert shared that every computer, monitor, network wire, router... almost the entire IT infrastructure, was replaced. "I've spent many, many hours at Greenway Plaza, and have had the great opportunity to meet, and work with, some fantastic people here," he said.
I had the great opportunity to meet, and work with, some fantastic people during my time at AIM.
"After a great deal of soul-searching, I decided to leave Invesco in November of 2015, ending an 18 year, 1 month, and 2 week tenure (not that I was counting). Since leaving Invesco, I got married and have continued to build my Computer Consulting firm which I have run for the past 15 years or so," said Robert.
More than 70 AIM Alumni gathered at Kirby Ice House for our ninth annual Houston reunion. We were thrilled that Mike Cemo joined the crowd of returning and new faces. It was a great evening to catch up with friends and colleagues.
Sharing memories, laughs and updates included discussions about the $5.7 billion in stock Invesco is paying for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s Oppenheimer Funds unit. The deal is expected to close at the end of the second quarter 2019. It will make Invesco the 13th largest global investment manager and the sixth largest retail investment manager in the U.S. with $1.2 trillion in combined AUM. Individuals still at the firm were sharing how they will be impacted.
At the gathering, various memorabilia were displayed, including buttons with toasters on them. Frank Sererbin, Marketing Director with Sondhelm Partners, shared the story of the toaster button. Frank explained that the buttons were a marketing promotion comparing how people could invest in a CD at a bank and get a free toaster, or they could invest in AIM Charter Fund and grow their assets.
Jim Salners and his wholesalers created the toaster campaign for the AIM Charter Fund. They liked to say that if you invested in a CD and not an AIM Charter Fund, you got toasted.
Other reminiscing included remembering when an employee threw a phone when Mr. Bauer was walking by the group. "He suggested if someone was going to throw something, phones cost $280 so a $22 keyboard would be preferable," remembered one colleague.
AIM hired many of its employees straight out of University, and AIM employees were a family at work, and outside of work, many had children about the same time. "Our babies are now 17 and 18 years old," laughed Shannon Truman.
It was a great crowd and a good time was had by all.
We are saddened to share that Mary Benson passed away Tuesday, January 29, 2019. Mary joined AIM in 1985, and would have celebrated 34 years with the Firm this year in August. Many of you will remember Mary for her generous spirit, her willingness to teach and mentor, her dedication and commitment to many causes.
A memorial service and celebration of Mary's life was held Monday, February 4.
Dana Sutton said that she not only had the privilege of working with Mary for many years, but more importantly had the honor of calling her a friend. "Mary was incredibly intelligent, had a memory like no other and had a wonderful sense of humor. She was very supportive of my daughters - always present at major milestones in their lives. She was there for me if I ever needed anything and I witnessed this type of generosity from her with others throughout the years. She will be greatly missed."
Mary guided many of us through industry changes, set high standards and demonstrated the importance of principles and integrity.
Annie Chong, Global Head of Portfolio Services, shared the following internally at Invesco and flew to Houston from Toronto so that she could be at the service. "Mary loved pricing and valuation. Her eyes would light up if one wanted to debate with her the merit of one valuation methodology versus another. She taught me everything I know about pricing," said Annie. "She was the rock during the tumultuous years of the financial crisis, guiding the team in uncharted valuation water and fearless in taking a stance and always doing the right thing. We will miss her guidance and her wisdom. Most of all, we will miss her friendship. Let’s honour her memory by remembering the difference she made in our lives, her passion for mentoring, the wisdom she shared with us and all the little things that made her special."
Ann Srubar shared a story about Mary's committment to mentorship from 2018 when she spoke to students at Mays Business School at her beloved A&M University. Mary also loved being an Aggie and was passionate about Aggie sports, attending many of the football games. "Whenever we’d get together," said Ann, "the first two things we’d usually discuss were the state of the Aggie football program (and of course with our in depth knowledge, agree on what wasn’t working and expound on what they should be doing) and travel plans. Mary loved to travel and frequently would give me ideas of places to go (or not to go) and share her research. She was smart, funny, thoughtful and generous with her time." said Ann.
Sharon Lester worked with Mary during the 14 years she was at Invesco. "Mary was very knowledgeable and passionate about her work," remembers Sharon. "She was always willing to help others and lend support wherever needed. Outside of work, Mary loved to travel the world and I always loved to hear her stories. A small world story is that after many years, Mary figured out that my step daughter Wendy lived across the street from her niece Georgia. Mary loved Georgia’s children and would often tell stories about them. Mary was taken from us way too early and will be missed by many," said Sharon.
I will always remember Mary’s smile and the sound of her laughter - she’ll be sadly missed.
Mary was also Joan Kennedy's fellow sports fan/nut. Joan said that Mary exercised her analytical skills outside work and was consequently generally successful at fantasy football. "We had a ball at Houston Texan football games, but probably had more fun when talking about sports," said Joan. "Back when A&M was in the Big 12, we argued about Mary’s comment that the Big 12 was much better, and, of course, I was arguing for the Big 10. As we went on and on, she must have said something more specific, and that’s when we realized she was talking football and I was talking basketball (yes, things have changed since then). We laughed and laughed because we then knew that each other was right about the sport we were talking about and couldn’t quite believe that we misunderstood each other. Hey, it happens."
"Mary was intelligent and professional but so much more," shared Joan. "She was funny, loved to laugh and tease, and very caring. She was an enthusiastic traveller, film buff, foodie, sports fan, and more. Then there was that mind - so analytic and so strong. Mary’s exceptional memory often surprised even though we had often experienced how strong they both were. She also loved her family and friends and showed that love. Her hands were so expressive and often accented her conversations. I could go on and on."
Janet (Willis) Luby first met Mary when she joined the Fund Accounting department in the late 1980’s. “I reported to her and what I remember about that time is how smart, professional and brilliant she was from an analytical and professional standpoint. She was able to impart her knowledge and experience in such an effective way as well because she was just such a great person—she was warm and welcoming and always had an open door or helpful suggestion.”
I would use the phrase “quiet confidence” to describe Mary’s professional demeanor even in times of stress (can anyone recall diving to get the NAV into the machine on time?). When the phrase “Mary Benson said…” or “..according to Mary”, was uttered, it really meant something and people took notice or took it to the bank or both," said Janet.
Mary's career was successfulbecause of her intellect and talent, but also because of her "EQ-Emotional Quotient" that challenged, supported, mentored and brought out the best in others.
Janet (Willis) Luby
"Mary's sense of humor was amazing as well; Mary was just funny. To Joan’s point, I am not entirely sure she could have uttered a syllable if you told her she couldn’t use her hands! She was so animated when telling a story or relaying something funny and often she’d just have tears coming out, she was so tickled. Or, when you least expected it she’d deliver the world’s funniest take on the most mundane thing with her dry delivery and send you to the floor with that," said Janet.
Mary’s memory was also amazing and I often joked that she could remember more about my life than I could. That is because she truly listened and she truly cared. She was always the glue, the organizer, the one to suggest this restaurant or that movie or event—that is such a gift to others and it kept us all close over the years.
She loved her family, her friends and colleagues, her fur babies, sports, travel, food, and…laughing. Mary’s friendship has been such a blessing in my life and that of others. I will miss her so much but will carry her generous and beautiful spirit with me always.
Survivors include sister, Colleen Shelton and Ross Vannorstrand, of Winnie; brother, Michael Benson and his wife, Debbie, of Bulverde; nieces, Georgia Matthews and her husband, Sean, of Spring and April Benson, of Winnie; nephews, Steven Shelton, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tyler Benson, of Spring, and Chase Benson and Jordan Benson, both of Winnie; grand-nieces, Kamryn, Zoey, Ava, and Micah Matthews, all of Spring; and Laila Hopkins, of Winnie; her beloved fur babies, Harper and Willow; and many lifelong, loving friends.
Mary would be very touched to know how many AIM alums are missing her. AIM was not only a place where we were doing important work for our shareholders, but we were also building important relationships in our lives.
Mary at the Kirby Ice House in 2017 with Sidney Dilgren and Gene Needles.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has selected Mark Santero to serve as president and CEO of the association’s investment management subsidiary, RE Advisers. Mark was also voted CEO of Homestead Funds, the mutual fund company created by NRECA, by the Homestead Funds’ board of directors and appointed to serve on that board.
My new role is a truly unique opportunity.
Mark brings more than 30 years of experience in investment management to RE Advisers. Most recently, he was the CEO at Dreyfus Corporation, a subsidiary of BNY Mellon Investment Management. He also has served as chief operating officer at BNY. Mark joined AIM in 1991 when he joined the Institutional Group working for Abbot Sprague. Initially, Mark worked in North Carolina at the NCNB's offices on behalf of AIM Distributors. Mark helped run the funds for AIM and prospected the New York and Boston areas one week a month.
In 1994, Mark moved his family to Houston to assume the sales manager position. “When we got off the plane Bruce, Kathy and Ann were there waiting for me and my family and welcoming us. The relationships I made at AIM remain strong. We still try to get together, and Neal named our get togethers TGIF – Thank God for Institution Friends. We always mix in golf, as that is a bond that ties us together. We also love telling old stories. For my first meeting with the group, we met for strategic planning at a bungalow in The Woodlands. I had just joined the firm and did not know anyone. I walk in and find out I am sharing a room. That night, I go out to the living room intending to sleep on the couch as my room-mate was snoring. Neal was already on the couch, having found that his roommate also snored. I remember I did not get very much sleep on that trip, and there I was trying to make a good impression,” recalls Mark.
RE Advisers has tremendous potential to help rural electric cooperatives and their employees by providing exceptional money management at an affordable cost.
Mark credits Ted Bauer and Bob Graham for his successes. “Besides my Dad, the most influential person in my life was Ted,” said Mark. “Just watching and being around Ted influenced my own development. Second was watching Bob’s style. I attribute a lot of my success to emulating those two. Ted wrote the book, People are the Product, and we lived it every day.”
“My new role is a truly unique opportunity,” said Mark. “RE Advisers has tremendous potential to help rural electric cooperatives and their employees by providing exceptional money management at an affordable cost. I’m excited to be a part of that mission.”
“Mark brings exceptional vision and leadership to this position,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “His extensive experience and understanding of investor needs will help position the business for future growth and success. Providing access to top-quality financial products and trusted money managers is an important part of NRECA’s service to members.”
I credit Ted Bauer and Bob Graham for my successes. Just watching and being around Ted influenced my own development. Second was watching Bob’s style. Ted wrote the book, People are the Product, and we lived it every day.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.
RE Advisers, a subsidiary of NRECA, directs $10.3 billion in assets as of March 31, 2018. Based in Arlington, Virginia, the company manages stocks, bonds and mutual funds for a wide range of clients, including investors in the Homestead mutual funds, institutions, pension plans and a model portfolio program sponsor. Homestead Funds are distributed by RE Investment Corporation.
Herman Kluge impacted the lives of many of his colleagues. It is a testament to his leadership,” said Linda Julian “that many of his former employees became his friend and stayed in touch with him and each other after leaving AIM.”
Herman spent 36 years in facility management, property management, corporate real estate and project management. Of those 36 years, he worked at AIM and Invesco for 14 years and eight months. Most recently, Herman was Senior Vice President of Corporate Real Estate and Property Management for Amegy Bank. In addition to his career, Herman enjoyed performing. He shared that in addition to his career, he “spent even more years performing music in Houston and around Texas.”
“It’s difficult to encapsulate more than 20 years of camaraderie, respect, joy and friendship,” said Anne Warnock. She shared that working for Herman at AIM was a joy. “He was always interesting, intelligent, fun, and a wonderful mentor,” remembers Anne. “We worked hard, but we laughed every single day. Herman could never resist a good...or even bad...pun!” she continued.
Herman had a wonderful sense of humor and if you knew him you knew his love of puns.
Everyone who knows Herman will remember he was a big fan of Elvis Presley, and for Herman’s 50th birthday, his department had a party for him, complete with Elvis mask decorations, and AIM’s own - Jeff Brown (A/V) - played the role of Elvis in a white jumpsuit.
Herman and Carol went to Paris on vacation, and Anne shares that she was in a meeting when he came back to work. Herman paged her relentlessly until she came out to find out what the emergency was - only to find that he wanted to tell her that he and Carol got engaged.
“When Y2K rolled around, we had endless meetings about the potential impact and how to deal with any problems,” said Anne. “I was in Edinburgh (six hours ahead of Houston) when midnight struck, and I phoned to wish Herman a Happy New Year. He asked me how everything was there, and I said mostly fine, but all the streetlights had gone out for several minutes when the clock struck twelve... WHAT!!! he said... until I started laughing! It might have been the only time I got one over on him!”
“On a personal level, Herman and Carol came to my wedding in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 2004. Seeing Herman in a kilt is a memory that will stay with me forever!!” said Anne who was at the Firm for 20 years when she retired in 2012.
Seeing Herman in a kilt is a memory that will stay with me forever!
Nina Smith worked for Herman in the 1990s and shared that Herman was loved by many at AIM. “Herman was one of my all-time favorite bosses. It was an honor to work for him. He was an artsy kind of guy who loved performing music with his buddies and just being his "groovy" self,” said Nina who joined AIM in 1988 and is still with the Firm.
Linda Julian echoes Herman’s sense of humor. “Herman was a truly unique individual,” said Linda. “He made the work in our department fun and professional.
Herman loved to perform and traveled around Texas. In addition to music and Elvis, Herman always enjoyed a slice of Maine Blueberry pie. He and his wife Carol often made vacation trips to Maine.
“Herman was a great mentor and dear friend,” said Linda. “His passing left many people heartbroken. He will be greatly missed.” Linda was at the Firm from 1992-2008 and her final position was Senior Facilities Administrator.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Herman Kluge can be made to the oral cancer research fund at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at www.mdanderson.org/gifts, or directly to Dr. Ann Marie Gillenwater Research, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210-4486, or to the charity of your choice.