My Career at Manufacturers Bank
Submitted by William C. Blomme, International Banking
In October 1952, I started working in the Auditing Department of Industrial National Bank of Detroit. Towards the end of the Korean War, I was drafted into the U.S. Army and was ordered to report for active duty in March 1955. While I was in the service, I believe sometime in 1956, Manufacturers National Bank, a Commercial Bank servicing mainly Corporate Clients purchased or merged with Industrial National Bank, primarily a Retail Bank with about 35 Branches.
I remember being discharged from the service in Chicago, IIIinois on a Friday in March 1957. I managed to make it home to Michigan the next day, rested Sunday, and reported to the Personnel Department of MNB on Monday morning. There was an opening in the International Department and I started working that day. For the next couple of years, I reconciled the Foreign Bank Statements of our various foreign currency accounts maintained overseas. Moreover, I sold American Express, First National City Bank and Thomas Cook Travelers Checks. I supplied all Branches with Travelers Checks and performed the Accounting and Remittance function of all their sales, in addition to other duties.
The Letter of Credit position opened and I was asked to fill the vacancy. A part time typist and I handled all Letter of Credit activity. The Portfolio averaged between one to three million dollars. I remember that each L/C and Amendment was typed on a manual Typewriter. Punctuation and typographical errors were not permitted. It was very difficult because there was an original on check paper, three non-negotiable tissue copies and one office copy, each with carbon paper manually placed in between. It was almost impossible to make a correction. I also remember that the original and all copies each had to be manually signed by two authorized signers for the Bank
Over time the portfolio increased substantially. In addition to Import & Export L/Cs we began doing a lot of Standby L/C business. Forms were developed containing carbons and the boiler plate language of standard paragraphs. We went from a manual typewriter to an electric typewriter to a programmed electric typewriter to a computer. The computer not only prepared the L/C's, amendments, and the advices covering drawings under the L/C’s, it also handled the complete accounting function.
I retired as Vice President in charge of the Letter of Credit Division, International Department, on April 1, 1992, after 39 ½ years of service. At the time I retired, before the merger with Comerica, we had a staff of 29 in the Letter of Credit Division handling a Portfolio of over one billion dollars. I worked one more year as a Consultant for Comerica.
I really enjoyed the type of work and all the people I met and worked with over the years. It was very gratifying for me to be a part of the growth of the Letter of Credit Division and the International Banking Department.
Of interest, on October 9, 2003, my wife and I were in the New Baltimore office of Comerica where they had transferred my checking account when I retired. We were transacting some business with Ms. Sherry Mertz, Vice President. She asked me if I remembered when my account was opened. I told her sometime in the middle of October, 1952. She said it was exactly 51 years ago that day! Shortly thereafter, Comerica came out with a new advertising campaign about how long customers were with Comerica. I could have said “51 years and counting!”