The Arrival of Hurricane Hugo and Banister Financial

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The picture in our website banner of powerful Hurricane Hugo bearing down on the coast of the Carolinas in 1989 is beautiful, awe inspiring, and frightening all at the same time. But to Banister Financial it means much more.

It is hard to believe that Banister Financial has completed its first 33 years and is now working on its 34th. Hurricane Hugo roared inland over the South Carolina coastline, cutting a path right over Charlotte, North Carolina early Friday morning September 22, 1989. Earlier that week on Monday, September 18, I had left a secure, well-paying corporate banking position with a major bank to found Banister Financial, eager to take on the business valuation field. However, upon climbing out of bed that Friday morning I awoke to a reality with no power, phones (cell phones barely existed), and with devastation throughout Charlotte. With a new seven-month old daughter to feed, no clients, nobody interested (or able) to talk to me, and living on a home equity line, I quickly wondered if I had made a huge mistake.

Ten days into the disaster the lights at my house miraculously came on at 10 pm that night- but how could this be I wondered, since the power lines were down in the back yard earlier that day when I last looked? Glancing out the window I reeled in horror as I saw the downed power lines in flames, about to catch my whole house on fire. After this brief glimpse with power, the fire department put out the fire, turned off the electricity, and again plunged our family into darkness for three more days. Changing diapers in the dark, I could look across the street to my neighbors, now with power restored, enjoying television, air conditioning, and a return to normalcy.

After thirteen days without power things could only get better- and they quickly did. The power returned, as did my belief that I had made the right decision to start a business valuation firm. In naming the firm I used my MBA school branding training, deciding not to use Hawkins in the name (boring), but rather something which sounded like a sophisticated British investment bank, Banister Financial, Inc. Very few people know that Banister is my middle name, so it was not that brazen! When our third daughter was later born in 1999, an attorney with others on a conference call asked me what full name my wife and I had given her. When I gave the middle name, Banister, he yelled out to the other attorneys on the call, laughing that he could not believe I had named her after the company, not knowing Banister was my middle name!

In the mid-1990s, I was blessed to be joined by Michael Paschall as partner, an individual whose wisdom, intellect, valuation skills and judgment, and above all else integrity, have proved to be an essential element in our firm’s success.

Thanks to many of you who put your faith in us, Banister Financial has grown to have many wonderful clients over the following 33 years. Our firm owes a great deal to each of you and we want to express deep-felt thanks for the amazing years that have since transpired. We are looking forward to the next 33… but please, no more hurricanes.

-George Hawkins

Banister Financial, Inc.

1338 Harding Place, Suite 200
Charlotte, North Carolina 28204
(704) 334-4932

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