University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Episode 14: Rebecca Garner Reflects on Her Finance Career and Experience in the Industry

March 06, 2019  |  By Matt Waller

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Rebecca Garner has experience working for a number of major institutions, including municipalities, insurance companies, banks, foundations, endowments, mutual funds, and trusts, as well as family offices and private investors. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and for the University of Arkansas Honors Portfolio classes. Rebecca is now happily retired.

Episode Transcript


00:07 Matt Waller: Hi. I'm Matt Waller, Dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business. Welcome to Be Epic, the podcast where we explore excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality and what those values mean in business, education and your life today. I have with me today Rebecca Garner, who has been involved in portfolio management and finance for most of her career. And do you go by Becca?

00:39 Rebecca Garner: Mm-hmm.

00:40 Matt Waller: Thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate it. So Becca, I know you've been involved in finance for most of your career, have you always been interested in finance? How did you get interested in it?

00:55 Rebecca Garner: No. $25 a month is what put me in the investment business instead of insurance. I left school. My friends badgered me and so I moved to Dallas. I left school. My buddies that were there were working in an insurance company. My roommate in college, his sister worked in a bank or probably National Bank. I went to interview that Monday and the insurance company offered me a job at $300 a month and the bank offered me a job at $325 a month. I didn't know how lucky I was. I didn't know that Alan Greenspan didn't talk to everybody all the time. I didn't know that Ross Perot didn't come by everybody's office. I was the personal research assistant to the head of the trust investment department, Edmund A. Miennis, and he was one of the founders of the CFA program. It was called something else, ICMA or something like that, and then it became CFA.

01:49 Rebecca Garner: I didn't know what I was walking into. I thought that was what everybody did. He did all those forecasting. He was a corporate profits specialist, expert really, and Greenspan said, "You can have my service for free," and it was very expensive at that time. This is before he was in public service. This is, Townsend-Greenspan was his company. And he said, "If you will just forecast with me." And he said, "Okay." So Kathy Eickhoff was head of his office. I didn't know everybody didn't talk to her every day. I was really lucky to be in the right place, right now.

02:22 Matt Waller: That's amazing. But you must have really liked it, 'cause you spent your whole career in finance.

02:28 Rebecca Garner: It suited me. I had to find the area of finance of the business that suited me and it's like I tell my friends, but it has taken every job to get me to where I wanted to be. For instance, I was in sales then and I was very successful. Investment banking, very successful. It didn't suit me. I didn't like it. I didn't love getting up every day. The pace wasn't right for me. Female in the business, that had its downs. And so, I wanted something that, you know, there's nothing subjective. I want a job where it's totally not subjective. Portfolio management did that for me. I went to Little Rock, because it was a personal thing. I had a chance to have my little sister for a year, didn't want to have her Houston and TJ Raney, which was an online firm in Little Rock, had been after me, to come up there and work for them, be their first female kind of thing, and I had a chance to have her and so I did that for a year.

03:29 Rebecca Garner: And then when she left, I tried sales and I did investment banking and I made a little bit of money, but I didn't like it. So I had a friend called me, the Mercantile Exchange was having problems in that... Did you ever go on the floor when everything had to take place by open outcry? I worked there at that time. Well, one of the problems they were having, it was like a size of a football field with 4000 people, and every one of them or 95% of them were misfits. I mean, this was oddest group of people you've never been around in your life. What they found, as the business grew, the futures business grew, was that these people only had experience in futures. And if they wanted to grow, they had to have people who could talk to. So they were really there for people with cash experience. And so, I had a girlfriend up there who wound up actually over all of JP Morgan's stuff. But she said, "Becca, you've got to come." And she knew I was unhappy. So I said, "Okay."

04:31 Rebecca Garner: And it happened to be... I was there for three months, it felt like five years, but the S&P pit opened then. That was a wild day. I kept hearing this... A coach's whistle. And finally I said, "What is going on over there?" He said, "Well, every time they start... They're trading. It is open. They are trading." But every time they realize, 'cause it's a pretty big pit, that they're trading at different prices, they blow the whistle. All those other ones still work, but they had to start over. It was like nuts. There was what's called an exchange disease. Everybody walked around pretty much with a Lysol kind of thing. You pick up the phone and maybe this bank is all yours, only your people, but you'd get so sick, everybody would do that, I mean, it was awful. It was awful.

05:20 Matt Waller: How long did you do that?

05:22 Rebecca Garner: Three months. But I know that sounds like a real short time, but when you know what I had to do... With cash experience and no futures experience, you are relegated to logging trades for like two weeks. You gotta know symbols, you gotta know the people, who your workers are, that kind of thing. Well, I caught these guys. There was no question about it that some of the $2 brokers that traded to us were stealing. I mean, they were putting the good trades, they were keeping the good trades and waiting. You're not suppose to ever wait on a trade. The time was an issue, but they were putting the losing trades in the owners account at my firm, G&P commodities. So finally, I figured, I'm sorry, I can't just watch this go. I have to go tell these guys, these two brothers, they own the place.

06:00 Rebecca Garner: And my friend Robin, who'd got me up, she said, "Becca, I wouldn't if I were you." And I said, "Well, I have to. I can't not do this." So I went up and told them. They acted surprised. In retrospect, they probably weren't surprised, but they wanted me to keep doing this so that I could monitor that situation. I said, "No, I'm not a watchdog. That's not what I'm here for. I've given you... I've told you what I know. My time is up. I'm logging and I'm done with that."

06:45 Rebecca Garner: And so, but they never did a thing. I mean, it is a strange place, it was a strange place. But what really got me to leave. I mean, I was miserable, I was on your feet all day. They had a document, it was like five typewritten pages on what you could or couldn't wear on the floor, because these people would just break all the boundaries. [chuckle] At one point there were 50 kinds of shoes you could not wear. And other than dress shoes, don't ask me why, all of a sudden, they added Reebok tennis shoes, only Reebok. It was the strangest place in the world. [chuckle] But then all of a sudden, I get this call and then I'm on the floor and you're talking, everything's open outcry, it's screaming, it's loud, because...

07:36 Matt Waller: What year was that?

07:38 Rebecca Garner: 1982.

07:39 Matt Waller: Okay.

07:40 Rebecca Garner: 1982, fall of 1982, 'cause I started working for Lee. I got a call from Lee Bodenhamer. I don't know him. I mean, I kind of knew who he was, he's from near my hometown, he's from El Dorado. But I was coming home for Christmas, this was in early December, and so Lee asked me to lunch, he said, "I wanna talk to you about..., " he had a portfolio management job he wanted to talk to me about. I said, "Okay, I'll talk to you." 'Cause I'm thinking there was also some personal stuff with a guy I was not dating, but I finally really need not say, "I'll date you," but he's down there. I'd left to get away. And I wound up marrying him, but what do you do. [chuckle] What can you do? So at any rate, I had lunch with Lee and he offered me this job for First Variable Life, the company he started.

08:32 Matt Waller: Lee Bodenhamer was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2008.

08:37 Rebecca Garner: And he's got the Bodenhamer scholars.

08:39 Matt Waller: And the Bodenhamer scholars. That's a huge scholarship.

08:45 Rebecca Garner: Oh, yeah.

08:46 Matt Waller: Bodenhamer fellowships, they give five or six of them per year, they're $18,000 per year, all majors are considered. You have to have a minimum of a 32 ACT and a 3.8 GPA in high school, but you've got to really demonstrate leadership to be able to get this. It's very competitive, but it's a very generous gift, and there's a lot of them.

09:15 Rebecca Garner: The only thing was, when I got there, I said, "I did it." I started working January the 5th, I think it was, '83. I started looking at that portfolio, and let's say, it's 230 million or something like that, not monster, but back then that was a decent sized portfolio. There were probably 300 names and probably 60% to 70% of it was junk. I'd never done junk bonds in my life, he didn't tell me it was a junk bond portfolio. Who can watch 300 bonds, 300 issues? Nobody.

09:50 Rebecca Garner: But he started the company only buying, 'cause he's an equity guy all the way, and he's good at it. He would only buy off the floor, if it was only fives and seven and ten, 'cause it was when they first started the company. And so he had all these names. I know I probably ought to go in and do all the research, but I can't, I can't. I'm gonna have to just go by the ratings. So I did nothing but consolidation trades for six months to get it down manageable so that I could actually really now delve into some of the credits. But I'm still faced with I don't know anything about junk bonds. Well, I got there in January and the next month is the conference, the Drexel Conference. I gotta go, I have to, I've got to meet some of these people, I've got to hear some of the stories, I gotta know something about this. Lee said "No. It's too expensive.".

10:47 Rebecca Garner: I said: "Okay, Lee, you pay for my trip out there if I can find a place to stay." And he said, "Okay, okay, I'll do that." 'Cause probably a night at the Wilshire is more expensive than the plane. But I have a friend who lived in Beverly Hills, she was one of my bridesmaids, so I knew I had a place to stay. So I went there. This was one of the turning points of my life. The last night there, the last day there, they always did something. It started on a Wednesday morning, and it went until Saturday at noon. And when I say it was non-stop, it was non-stop. It was, everything was just... You hit the wall like Thursday afternoon, but a lot of people would leave early. Well, he didn't want me by leaving early, Mike Milken.

11:33 Rebecca Garner: So he had, I guess, a keynote speaker the last day at noon that everybody was ga-ga about. I didn't know about this guy, but seems that he's not a recluse, but he never spoke, he wasn't out there. He was a co-founder of Teledyne and then went to be the Dean of the Business School at the University of Texas, George Kozmetsky. And that was our speaker and everybody was ga-ga about this guy. And at this point, there were like 300 people, the Drexel Conference at the end was like 4000 people. There were 300 people at the Wilshire, and there's only two women there, me and the girl from Wellesley, and we used to change our tags out all the time to confuse people. [laughter] But he got up there, and Milken, when he'd started his conference, always did a free form, no notes or anything, just talking about what he sees in the future, and not just our business but what he sees, needs in the neighborhoods or... So at any rate.

12:34 Rebecca Garner: So George Kozmetsky he gets up and he gives the same type of thing about the future. Of course, the industry he started was that kind of a company. And he started talking about that, now it's the Q&A. Now, understanding that the Drexel Conferences early on, not so much later, 'cause I asked a friend of mine who is portfolio manager at Mass Financial, I said, "Hey, tell me this. Are these guys, these analysts that you have, are part of their bonuses based on whether they ask the best questions?" She said, "Yeah." So this is real serious competition when it gets to Q&A. The Q&A to George Kozmetsky, oh, I guess we had three or four, or five and one guy said, "I have a question." And he said. "What do you think's gonna be... Make the biggest impact on this business, in the junk bond business?" He did not hesitate, "Women."

13:27 Rebecca Garner: My friend and I looked at each other and they said, "Why women?" He said, "Because they don't have a good old boy network. They're going to question everything you do." People have no idea the role we played in junk bonds. No idea how we were very serious about junk bonds. To give you an example, people don't understand this. "Yeah, I know Drexel had a monopoly." But that was junk bond at its finest. Because the good ones are such easy sales, why even touch a bad one? Why even look at them? Just shoo them out the door. It's only when... DLJ didn't disrupt it as much as people like a Merrill, who are never gonna specialize in it. Rothschild did a good job, but they only would bring two or three a year. So at any rate, and the example, this is just a small little piece of what we could do.

14:33 Matt Waller: Because you didn't have the good old boy network?

14:35 Rebecca Garner: No, not at all. But we got to know each other. We would meet each other. There weren't that many of us, but they grew. But one time... Do you remember when Shearson Lehman tried to bring RJR, Nabisco and it all blew up? I can't remember the year, but Metropolitan bought a single A credit from Nabisco or RJ... One of the two. RJR, I guess it was RJR. Nabisco didn't have credit. In April of that year, a single A credit. They had bought a bunch of bonds. Now we're in September, there's no way they couldn't have known this was in the works. There's no way, no way.

15:18 Rebecca Garner: So, Metropolitan, who now is gonna have a single B or double B credit, versus what they just bought four months ago, five months ago, sued the heck out of Shearson Lehman and RJR, those people. The whole thing fell part. We'll now go forward another five or six months to March. KKR and Drexel came to the market, did a deal. Well, they had added three words in the prospectus that should be there. I didn't blame them. There's always a thing in that it says they're absolving the officers and directors, board members of any liability for this issue kind of thing.

16:01 Rebecca Garner: Well, they added, "Or its creation." I can't blame them. Too many lawsuits out there. They didn't start this mess. They're wrapping it up and finishing it but they didn't... It wasn't their deal. So I didn't have a problem with that. They tried to make that a boilerplate statement. Not on my watch. You can't... You know... That happens a lot. I was mad about this and he didn't know how mad I was.

16:31 Rebecca Garner: Well, there was a girl at Teachers... At New York Teachers, TIA [inaudible], Theresa Wisemarski. And Theresa wasn't 5'2, she had kinda sandy-colored hair and it was curly, she had kind of a high voice. She dressed like a little doll kind of thing, but she was tough as nails. She was a great girl. I called Theresa. I said, "Theresa, they're not gonna come to Little Rock on a road show." I said, "But we got a problem here." And I explained it to her. And a new issue had come out that they had done this and I can't remember which one it was, but it was in there. And she said, "Really?" Believe it or not, I was one of the few that actually read all those prospectuses.

17:13 Rebecca Garner: Anyway, they'd turned to me. She said, "Okay. I'm going to the lunch tomorrow. I'll let you know what happens." She called me back. She was laughing. She said, "They were so arrogant, they'd left under everybody's chair a prospectus." So when she asked her little question in her little cute voice, because nobody had even noticed it. They all picked them up and started [inaudible]. You can hear the paper. She said these guys were dying up there.


17:49 Rebecca Garner: I mean, it wasn't that big a deal. It wasn't, but it could have been. So you can't let it stay. Those were the kind of things we would get done, pretty quietly. I got those three words out of every prospectus but two. We could do that, and we did it quietly but seriously, we did it. DLJ when they came in the business, they were the next big player. Well, I had been real careful, but I did support DLJ. I thought... I mean, I was... I got into business with them too, I mean, everybody. When they were first conferenced... And those were the big deals with conferences back then.

18:32 Rebecca Garner: Oh, yeah, and they tried to outdo each other to extents you would not believe. I was at the first conference and they were having the first kind of, "Let's talk about this" opening ceremony, whatever. And my salesman happened to be female, and she was one of the best salesmen I ever had. They said, "Becca, can you come up here? We're gonna let... Do you mind sitting up in the front?" I said, "Well, no." They put me right by Dick Jenrette, who is a great guy, by the way. But they wanted to show that they were serious. And I felt like... They'd been really good to me, I said, "Okay. I'll sit up there." They knew what to do. Because then people would call me and ask me, "What are your dealings with DLJ?" But they'd done it and they were doing a good job. They had a lot of their resources going toward that business. So I knew they were really serious and they were. And then Lee sold the company in 1985. It then closed in September 30th, 1985.

19:39 Rebecca Garner: I had my daughter on September 25th, 1985. And I'm nine months pregnant. Only two of us... Monarch had bought them. They had two insurance companies: Monarch Life and Springfield Life, all up in Massachusetts and Vermont. And then they bought First Variable. Well, they convinced me to stay. Now, I'm in Little Rock, I've got a 17-page document contract that says I don't have to move more than 50 miles out of Little Rock. But they... They made a big deal out of it, but they didn't want me up there. I was female. I'm serious, they didn't. You go up there, you don't see a female except at the secretarial desk. And so it worked out great for all of us.

20:23 Matt Waller: So you were, you were very early as a female getting into this investment finance role?

20:30 Rebecca Garner: I was the second female to ever be in the bond business in Texas.

20:37 Matt Waller: Wow.

20:37 Rebecca Garner: In the state of Texas, yeah, Sherry was the first one, and she and I were friends, and I took her place when she left the bank, Houston National Bank. She actually wound up on the sales side, and loved it. It just wasn't my thing.

20:52 Matt Waller: Now, junk bonds are non-investment grade.

20:56 Rebecca Garner: Right.

20:57 Matt Waller: High-risk.

20:58 Rebecca Garner: No, not necessarily high-risk.

21:00 Matt Waller: Would you mind telling us a little bit about junk bonds?

21:04 Rebecca Garner: A junk bond is, you've got the A's, triple-A being the highest US Treasury. Double-A's, hardly any exist. Single-A's, a lot of those. Triple-B, those are the investment-grade categories. Double-B is a junk bond. That's a pretty good credit. That's the high-grade of junk. Single-B is so varied, you could drive a Mack truck through. Why has this got a B and this got a B too, 'cause you get into the C's and nobody's gonna touch them, you see what I mean, 'cause that's just a little too junky. So, there's really only one credit, and that was a the single B, because they did all these CLOs and that kind of thing, the Collateralized Loan Obligations, those things. And they were required to have double-Bs. So that market wasn't very big to begin with, and so that was already taken up. So, single-B was pretty much it.

22:08 Matt Waller: Now the junk bond market, really...

22:11 Rebecca Garner: I mean, like Safeway. That was a junk bond. A lot of it is names you know. They just don't have very... There's slim margins, you know, not much equity, and you have to watch them a lot more closely.

22:24 Matt Waller: And they need credit too.

22:26 Rebecca Garner: Sure they do. There were a lot of good credit.

22:29 Matt Waller: It is true, though, a lot of people when they hear junk bond, they think of something that isn't positive, even though it's an important market.

22:37 Rebecca Garner: Well, they're really called high-yield bonds. Junk was the nickname, if you will.

22:41 Matt Waller: Right.

22:43 Rebecca Garner: But I will tell you how serious it got, it did get... People did get too complacent. Like one of the guys on the Monarch board. Have you ever heard of Aldrich, Eastman and Waltch?

22:53 Matt Waller: Mm-hmm.

22:53 Rebecca Garner: Real estate guys. Peter Aldrich was on that board. And Peter asked me to do him a favor, I said, "What do you want?" And he was having a conference for all his clients down at the Epcot Center. He said, "Bec, I need you to scare them a little bit. They're too complacent, they need to kinda pay more attention." So, I said, "Alright, I'll go down and scare them a little bit." And I didn't know what I was gonna do. I never do when I was speaking on that kind of thing. So I wanted to see who these guys were, and I saw Owens-Illinois, I saw all these others. So I stood up there and I made them nervous 'cause I told them what the street talk, how they... What they called their bonds. The nicknames and that kind of thing. Owens-Illinois was...

23:39 Matt Waller: The lawyers?

23:41 Rebecca Garner: Uh-huh. The Lawyers Full Employment Act. You know, I mean, they had no idea how they were perceived in the street by the traders and not... Not necessarily portfolio managers.

23:54 Matt Waller: Now, talk about a little, just for a moment, about Mike Milken's role in junk bonds.

24:02 Rebecca Garner: He was with another small firm, it became Drexel Burnham, but he was with the one that was taken in. And I can't think of it, it was a little baby firm. He was traveling... Where was he going to school, I think going to school at Wharton or something at nights. And so he would have a head lamp, like a miner would use, and read prospectuses. He created this market, and he didn't have a market. [chuckle] But he convinced them to let him sell this and he was gonna put all his efforts toward it, but if he was gonna do this, he wanted 25% of the profit of this little company. He was still getting that when they were bringing in five billion. In retrospect, if you never know they're there, you don't know that they're cheating you, right? They didn't all do it. I mean, like Rothschild, I bought Triangle Corp and they came with warrants priced at five, I sold them at almost 100. They were worth a lot. He was distributing them to his buddies, the warrants, not even telling the marketplace.

25:12 Rebecca Garner: So it was kind of a double-edged sword. You can be his buddy, which is dangerous in and of itself. It was. I knew it, I mean, you know it, and so or and maybe get some of this kind of thing or you don't ever know about it. He did it a lot. Yeah, occasionally he put something in that they just needed to get rid of. Well, people like Joanie Batchelder, who was at Mass Financial, we'd have lunch on Wednesday, every year for a conference. And she told me one day, she was just depressed. I said, "What is wrong?" She says, "Becca, I'm so big, I can't not buy anything." That's hard. Think about that. "I can't not buy anything." That's scary. That is scary. Oh, and she knew it, she was depressed. I think she'd been trying to get him to shut the fund down so it's a mutual fund. Of course they're not gonna do it, golden goose kind of thing.

25:41 Matt Waller: Mind-boggling.

25:41 Rebecca Garner: Yeah.

25:41 Matt Waller: Okay, so a couple of things I wanted to make sure we covered. I'd like you to talk just a little bit more about women in finance and your experience.

26:29 Rebecca Garner: I didn't realize how tough it was when I was going through it. I'm gonna tell you that right now. I didn't realize what it should have been or what it could have been. But I will say, I had, there were no female mentors, that didn't exist. But I had fabulous men mentors. I did. I had some they just went the extra mile. When I left, I went to Whitewell after the bank. And they'd just hired me because they heard I was leaving the bank. I just refused to stay. I didn't wanna get invested. I knew I'd never leave if I got invested. And I had to go. There was no place for me to go at the bank. The trust investment department, no place to go. So the head of the office, he said, "Becca, are you leaving us?" I said, "Yeah." And he said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I don't know. I don't have a job. I just... That's how important this is to me." He said, "I'll hire you." I said, "What I'm gonna do?" And he said, "I don't know yet. But I'll hire you." I said, "Okay."

27:30 Rebecca Garner: My first project was, they were about to be losing some of their territory. He said, "Can you look into this and see what you can do to help me here." Now, understand there are no PowerPoints. There's nothing like that, everything is by hand. When I was doing bonds, I'd have to go clip coupons in Lee's office. Oh, yeah, I mean, this is absolutely, everything's by hand. I wound up, it took me about six weeks to get all the data and make all the charts in colored pencil.


28:01 Rebecca Garner: But I not only did they not lose territory, they gained some. So... 'Cause I could make the case for it. And then I worked on the syndicate desk. I worked on the whatever. Well, and I was working with institutional stock guys, but right next to the bond guys. Okay, so we're like this. And so I wanted to get my... I thought I would be interested in getting my series seven, that kind of thing. Now, this was a time when they were sitting people in New York for six months to a year in training classes. Oh, yeah, that was...

28:38 Matt Waller: I didn't know it was that long.

28:40 Rebecca Garner: Oh, a long time. Yes. Guys were gone for a long time. And they would all talk about the department that they were in. And when I said I wanted to get mine, and these are people who supported me and were great friends. He handed me the SEC, the legal book of all the rules. So it pissed me off so much, I passed the test. Having that as my only guide. I did. It had all the rules and regs, all that stuff. Now, I didn't need it. I just wanted it to learn and stuff. But then I had a chance to go to a bond pass, my first time there. Well, I was nervous. Back then it was bond book. We had bond books. Okay, that's all you had. I didn't know anything about bonds. I didn't know anything about a bond book, the head of the office and the two bond guys, and preferred guys, sat there and taught me for two weeks, all about bonds. And I wound up going over there. What we did was, you know what a sinking fund is? Well, they were very active back then, and we had a patented sinking fund book. A little company called Stewart brothers started by two brothers that actually were angels on Broadway.

29:55 Rebecca Garner: And West Side Story I think was one of their investments. I mean, they were good guys. But we were known as an odd lot house, but really our business was the sinking funds. Biggest account in the business in this company, nationwide, was Employees Retirement System in Texas. It was my account. I will tell you, I got a call after I left the sell side about 30 years later. And said, "Becca, this is a voice out of your past." I said, "Danny Boswell." It was him. He said, "Can I ask you a question?" And I said, "Sure." He said, "Did you leave sell side because of me?" I said, "Yes, Danny, I did."

30:42 Matt Waller: Did he apologize?

30:44 Rebecca Garner: Yeah, he did. And I was nice, and I accepted it. But... And I was graceful about it. I never said, but I did leave that part of the business. I just had enough. Just had had enough. He was the sinking fund player. He would accumulate against the sinker. And if you want to do that, you had to have our book. If you wanted to do that, you had to have our knowledge of, yeah, it looks like they can't accumulate about everybody. You can't do that. So there are some people who are more prone to do it. Some companies are more prone to get behind or more... But you can look and see that. You have to know their mindsets. You have to know these people, and our guy did, he knew these people really well. I can't do that anymore. It was mainly a guess. We don't do that much anymore. But back then that was a big business. He made a lot of money.

31:48 Matt Waller: Now, you also did other types of portfolio management types of work. Was there anything you'd want to say about your time at Llama?

31:57 Rebecca Garner: Oh, sure. I had been obliquely told about that that maybe that could be a job and I'd said, no, I'm not interested. You know, I have my own business and I'm really not interested. So I'd really never let it go any further than somebody just very obliquely doing this. Well, I was getting a divorce. I didn't wanna stay in Little Rock. But I didn't wanna be so far that my daughter couldn't see her dad every other weekend. So the Minneapolis job, that would have been a great job, but it was just too far. Jacksonville, too far. These are offers I had. Then I get, out of the blue, I get this call from a headhunter in Houston. He just said it was in northwest Arkansas. I didn't know who it was.

32:48 Rebecca Garner: And I said, "I'll talk to you." And it's strictly a location thing, right? He's on my doorstep the next morning. [chuckle] And it finally comes out that it's Alice. I said, "Okay, I'll talk to her. I'll talk to her." So I went up and talked to her. And I mean, I was, put it all on the line, I said, "Alice, you gotta know, my daughter's nine. She's gonna come first, no matter what." She says, "Not a problem for me." And it never was. Matter of fact, Alice and my daughter are good buddies. But I called her, and we went, and they played.

33:25 Matt Waller: Wow.

33:26 Rebecca Garner: No, I mean she had no problem with that, she said it and she meant it. Had a...

33:32 Matt Waller: What's your daughter's name?

33:33 Rebecca Garner: Jordan.

33:33 Matt Waller: I think I've met her.

33:35 Matt Waller: Oh, you did. You met her at the... She was with Tyson's. She just took a job with the Tysons.

33:40 Matt Waller: Yeah.

33:40 Rebecca Garner: And she was with Olivia and John Randle.

33:44 Matt Waller: Yeah. Where was it I met them?

33:45 Rebecca Garner: And John... At the... Down in Little Rock.

33:47 Matt Waller: Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.

33:49 Rebecca Garner: Yeah.

33:49 Matt Waller: Sometimes I...

33:49 Rebecca Garner: Tall blonde?

33:50 Matt Waller: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

33:51 Rebecca Garner: That's my daughter.

33:52 Matt Waller: Oh, okay. Yeah, she seemed like a really neat person.

33:55 Rebecca Garner: Oh, hey, she's the best. She's the best. So anyway, I talked to her, because she was really more broker dealer side. That was her thing, was the broker dealer side. I knew that this was a risk, but it really wasn't. She needs me, somebody like me that had the reputation I had, and I needed to be within a certain amount of distance of my ex-husband. It worked out fine, you know what I mean? So my whole company came up with me. I sold my company to her. Well, there's two ways to sell your company. You can sell the company 'cause they don't have an ADV or whatever. That's what the Garrisons did. They bought the company. Alice bought my assets and took all of us as employees. So I did go up there. So did it take me about six months to say, "I'm with Llama," without a lump in my throat? Yeah, it took me about that long. They were really good to me. They were fair to me. I'm not saying Alice was an angel, nor was I, but nobody is.

35:03 Matt Waller: Right.

35:04 Rebecca Garner: Come on.

35:04 Matt Waller: That's exactly right.

35:06 Rebecca Garner: She's tough. I will tell you this, that girl knows balance sheets back and forth. She can tear apart a balance sheet and all those financials like you've never seen. She is like... She's really good at that. It's amazing. But no, and I was one of the few... 'cause a lot of people had started different parts of the business that could be broken off. She wouldn't do it, she was just gonna shut it down when she was ready to shut it down, but she let me buy mine back.

35:38 Matt Waller: Wow.

35:38 Rebecca Garner: And she said, well, I said, "What do you want?" No. She asked me, "What do you think it's worth?" And I said, "I'll sell it to you on the same terms," I mean, "I'll buy it in the same terms I sold it to you."

35:50 Matt Waller: Yeah, tell me again the years you were there.

35:52 Rebecca Garner: '94 to '99.

35:54 Matt Waller: So you...

35:55 Rebecca Garner: Almost five years.

35:55 Matt Waller: It's possible we met when I was a new professor here. I was a visiting assistant professor in '94 and '95. And I was the first person that really had a retail CPG supply chain back. Do you remember this?

36:13 Rebecca Garner: No, I...

36:14 Matt Waller: Who all had a client in. I don't remember who... May have been Stone Container. Does that ring a bell?

36:22 Rebecca Garner: That would have been on the broker dealer side. It wouldn't have been on my side.

36:25 Matt Waller: Okay. Did you know Randy Laney, though, while you were there?

36:29 Rebecca Garner: Yeah.

36:30 Matt Waller: He was the one that called me back then.

36:32 Rebecca Garner: That's the one who told me it's a small mountain.

36:36 Matt Waller: What's that?

36:36 Rebecca Garner: It's a small mountain. Best advice I ever got.

36:40 Matt Waller: Oh, really? He's a really nice person.

36:46 Rebecca Garner: Well, he was kind of... He had left Walmart, but he really didn't have a place to go, so he actually officed in my offices.

36:54 Matt Waller: Ah.

36:56 Rebecca Garner: So we got to know each other fairly well.

37:00 Matt Waller: Yeah, he was... I really liked working...

37:02 Rebecca Garner: But he's the one... That was his warning. Don't ever forget, it's a small mountain. And boy, that was the best advice I ever had. 'Cause it is a small mountain.

37:13 Matt Waller: It's very small.


37:15 Rebecca Garner: It is real small.

37:17 Matt Waller: It's funny, isn't it?

37:19 Rebecca Garner: Yeah. And here's my daughter, she was working before the Tysons. She was with Gen Three, up there. The generation three up there for four or five years. Yeah. I told my friend, I said, "Ah, she just went down in market cap." Way down in market cap.



37:40 Rebecca Garner: From there to there, but it got her back to here.

37:43 Matt Waller: Yeah. Well, thank you for taking time to speak with me.

37:46 Rebecca Garner: Sure.

37:48 Matt Waller: Thanks for listening to today's episode of The Be Epic podcast from the Walton College. You can find us on Google SoundCloud, iTunes, or look for us wherever you find your podcasts. Be sure to subscribe and rate us. You can find current and past episodes by searching beepicpodcast, one word, that's B-E-E-P-I-C podcast. And now, be epic.


Matt WallerMatthew A. Waller is the dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Sam M. Walton Leadership Chair and professor of supply chain management. He is also the host for the Be EPIC Podcast for Walton College.


Walton College's EPIC values -- Excellence, Professionalism, Innovation and Collegiality -- are the heart of Dean Waller’s podcast. Since the beginning of the series, Waller has interviewed business professionals, industry experts, CEOs and Walton College students to bring listeners first-hand accounts directly from the entrepreneurial world.


Waller is an SEC Academic Leadership Fellow and coauthor of “The Definitive Guide to Inventory Management: Principles and Strategies for the Efficient Flow of Inventory across the Supply Chain,” published by Pearson Education. He is the former co-editor-in-chief of Journal of Business Logistics. His opinion pieces have appeared in Wall Street Journal Asia and Financial Times.


Waller received an M.S. and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University and a B.S.B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri.

Walton College

Walton College of Business

Since its founding at the University of Arkansas in 1926, the Sam M. Walton College of Business has grown to become the state's premier college of business – as well as a nationally competitive business school. Learn more...

Be Epic Podcast

We're sitting down with innovators and business mavericks to discuss strategy, leadership and entrepreneurship. The Be EPIC Podcast is hosted by Matthew Waller, dean of the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Learn more...

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