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I am really, really proud (really, really long)

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I just received a great honor. I am the member of a professional organization called the Association of Investment Management and Research (AIMR). It publishes a bi-monthly publication, the AIMR Exchange. My husband and I were written up in a two-page spread - with pictures and everthing. It is an incredibly glowing article - many of our clients are members of the association and will see this. It couldn't have happened at a better time, and I feel ultimately blessed.

Normally I'd just paste in a link to the website to give you a choice about reading it, but that's not an option as you have to be a member of AIMR to enter the site.

The author of the article, Christine Martin, e-mailed me a final copy of the article so I could share it with my family.

The Cat Site has become a kind of extended family, and I wanted to share it with you. It's sans color and pictures, but a number of you have asked about the R.V. and what I do. So if you'd like to see what was written, here it is:

DYNAMIC DUO: Husband and Wife Team Take Research to a New Level

When Laurie XXXXX, CFA, and husband, Gary, quit their jobs and hit the road in a 40-foot RV in 1994, an extended vacation was all they had in mind. But a few side trips to research "out-of-the-way" companies for some of Laurie's buy-side friends evolved into a new career-one in which their home travels with them. Now nine years into their road trip, the XXXXX shared how their mobile lifestyle fits well with traditional, boutique-style research shops, allowing them to seek out some interesting investment opportunities for their customers.

"From a buy-side perspective, it seemed to me that actionable research based on real input was really lacking. So we hoped to fill a hole in the sell-side market with our decision to hit the road researching companies," explained Laurie, whose background included managing, trading and investing for Arbor Partners, LP, which she cofounded, and equity analysis for Omega Partners and Baron Asset Management.

Gary, who was a Regional Manager for Stone Container Corporation, added: "Everybody on the sell side claim that they get out and kick the tires by going to visit companies. Sure, they may visit headquarters, but very few analysts travel off the beaten path to spend time visiting distribution facilities or manufacturing plants, meeting with department heads, the chief technology officer, guys on the line and so on."

They gave the example of Arizona-based Continental Homes, which the XXXXX visited in the mid 90s at the request of one of their customers because it appeared fully or over valued. "When we got on site in Scottsdale, spoke with the developers and other players, Laurie and I looked at each other and thought 'Holy Smokes, this is just the beginning,'" said Gary. By the end of their three-week stay, the XXXXXX had met with city counsel, investigated building permits, and were certain of a real buy opportunity at the dawn of Arizona's housing boom.

Initially, the XXXXX performed independent research on a soft-dollar basis as "Road Research," visiting over 200 companies in the first year and a half. Since 1995, they have worked for a number of boutique firms. "As special situations analysts not pegged to any index or industry, we've become very familiar with the industry of America. So for a number of our customers, which are strictly institutional and extremely loyal, we act as almost an extension of their research arm," explained Laurie. "We're their eyes and ears on the road."

Laurie and Gary were in New Mexico visiting Santa Fe Pacific Gold in 1997, just prior to Newmont Mining's surprise takeover. "We were actually at one of the mines when a couple of geologists and mining engineers showed up wearing Newmont hats and shirts. Although we had no access to direct information, the many clues caused us to surmise a potential takeover," recalled Gary of the serendipitous visit.

"Staying in RV parks and small towns for a period of time, we learn a lot from the local scuttlebutt," noted Laurie. Chitchat about layoffs clued the XXXXXs into problems with MasTec Industries, which developed cable infrastructure in southeast United States. Several weeks of investigation, which even included counting idle cable trucks in the parking lot over a period of days, confirmed the XXXXXX suspicions and resulted in a timely sell recommendation.

The XXXXX picked up Harris Corporation, an international communications equipment company, at what is now a seven-year low after spending several days at their facilities in Melbourne, Florida. Laurie and Gary believed the conglomerate was under-followed and mis-understood. "If I'm an analyst in New York, I have to make a budgetary decision. I ask myself, 'Should I fly all the way down to Melbourne, Florida, where there is only one company called Harris?' Of course not," said Gary. "But we take our home with us. So we're not only mobile, we're not necessarily anxious to leave either," added Laurie.

The XXXXX home is a 29,000-pound Holiday Rambler, from which they tow their SAAB 9000 Turbo. "Our kitchen is like anybody else's. We have a toaster oven, double sink, stove, microwave, and an oven," which, admitted Laurie, is a little small. "But we've roasted a 12-pound turkey," Gary boasted. Their "bus" even has hardwood floors and marble countertops. Really impressive, however, are the XXXXX three satellite dishes, network computer system and full uplink capability, which make their lifestyle possible.

"We spend 24 hours a day together, and people think we're nuts. But it works for us," explained the XXXXX, who, interestingly, were high school sweethearts. "My wife's my partner and best friend. We spend our winters in the south at luxury RV parks. So when people say we need a vacation, I ask, 'Who's complaining?'" noted Gary.

Plus nowadays, when more sophisticated research methods find analysts looking for an edge, the XXXXX have already found one. Said Laurie: "In this economic environment, what could be better than traveling America's heartland to see for ourselves what's on the shelves and what's not and which parking lots and warehouses are full and which are not?"

Photo caption:
Road researchers Laurie and Gary XXXXXX have logged roughly 250,000 miles on the road since 1994.

post #2 of 24
What an incredible honor! I cannot think of a more deserving couple! I do hope in future articles there will be mention made of all the feral cats you have blessed your life with. Congrats to the both of you!
post #3 of 24
WOW!!! It sounds like you have such an interesting life! And still have time to care about feral cats. CONGRATULATIONS!!!
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
...I almost didn't post because I'm not someone to toot my own horn, so to speak. But it really was the ultimate thing to happen to me, professionally.

And Hissy, the ONLY reason no cats are mentioned is because when the interview was conducted, we hadn't rescued any yet!
post #5 of 24
I knew this- I was just harassing you!
post #6 of 24

Just wondering....in what towns did you rescue your kitties?
post #7 of 24
Congratulations Laurie and Hubby!!!! Great job!
post #8 of 24
Congratulations - what a great article! Your business sounds really interesting, and really important! Was it a big adjustment to start living full time in the RV?

Are you ready to "hit the road" again? It will be interesting to see how the cats like travelling. My cat yowls from the moment the car engine starts until it stops.
post #9 of 24
Congratulations Laurie and Gary! It is indeed an honor to be recognized by your professional colleagues. Too bad Shelly and Lazlo couldn't be a part of the article!
post #10 of 24
Laurie! Needless to say we are IMPRESSED !
post #11 of 24
WOW!!! I think if I were you I would tooting my own horn as well!!! That is very impressive and I really enjoyed reading the article!! It certainly gave me a better idea of what you and your husband do. What an honor this article was!!! I am happy for you!!! And I really appreciate you sharing it with us!!!!! Good job!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #12 of 24
Wow! Congrats!

That was very interesting - thank you for sharing! I am so happy for you and Gary!

When I first saw the thread's title I thought it would be about Smoa and the ferals info project In my book you're one of the best for doing what you do for ferals - I am so happy to hear about anything nice that happens to you!
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
...Like I said, I felt a bit embarrassed about putting in the whole article, but it really gives you all a feel for what we do, and kind of puts the R.V. thing into perspective.

More of Laurie the blab:

About the traveling questions: we've been stationary in NW NJ since summer of 2001 (always have to stop for a quick visit to the "home office." We do have an employer now, and while we conduct research on the road, we haven't been "independent contractors" since 1996. There's no way we could create the distribution we have on our own - we needed an existing firm to "penetrate the market," so to speak. It did work, though, because most of the largest professional equity fund managers are now our customers.

We rescued the kittens in NJ: they're brothers. What happened was we were in NJ for a while in 2001, and then 9/11 happened. We really needed to stick around. It was the first time we'd spent a Winter in snow since 1993. (!)

Gary had been having problems with severe and migraine headaches. He was finally diagnosed with a brain tumor. That was operated on - a year ago today, exactly, as a matter of fact. (Thankfully it was benign. Again, it just reinforces my sense of being ultimately blessed.) I personally think it was from the cellphones, which for YEARS were our principal method of communication. We really had a problem with one of them in particular, and it is not on the market anymore.

Then Gary, who is brilliant and passionate, of course had ulcer problems with everything that had been going on in the stock markets (it isn't mentioned in the article, but he is our firm's Chief Strategist). He's had problems with ulcers for years, but by March of 2002 they needed to be operated on. He also had Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-cancerous condition. We addressed that in April. Then his back went out. It ended up requiring two operations, the last of which was September 13. (Anne - Gary was in the IDF from 1981 to 1987. He was airmobile infantry, and has his master jumpwings - 385 jumps. Kind of hard on all the joints, including those in the vertebrae). So I think we'll be here another Winter.

The R.V. Park is in a farming community, and apparently non-sterilized barn cats are a large problem here. Booger was the first to turn up (see my entry in the Essay Contest). Initially we started taking care of her just so she'd stop raiding the garbage cans (we're not allowed to use lids here - go figure. There are bear, raccoons, possums, etc. How dumb are these people?). Anyway, Gary, my formerly cat hating husband, had gotten used to cats (and secretly kind of liked Booger, who I was calling "Rocki" here because I was embarassed of the "real" name we were using), so when the first litter of feral kittens turned up playing in our yard, both of our hearts went out to them. We rescued Lazlo and Sheldon from the first litter and they became inside pets. Booger had really had that option, but was far too independent. Once the kittens moved in, bringing Booger inside wasn't really an option. Anyway, their three brothers remain unadopted outside, although they're getting pretty social now. We'd had several indications of interest in Spooky and Julius, but those homes fell through.

We've now had... I don't know, exactly. I'm not at home, so I can't look it up. But a lot of cats spayed and neutered. All of the first batch of kittens and their mom have been sterilized. Another batch of kittens just turned up last night (although we'd seen pregnant Mom, so we knew they'd show up sometime.) We've had almost all the male ferals we know of neutered. Two have yet to be captured. There is at least one female in addition to the mom of this new litter we know about that we need to trap.

Gary has become an expert trapper, and we are DEFINITELY our Vet's best customer!

Spaying and neutering have become a passion now, and we took up Samoa's plight and ran with it.

We have found someone to care for the colony of ferals when and if we leave. I'm very attached to the area now, and I'm not so sure I want to head back to the road full time.

But Rocki/Booger - she's our first baby, though she's far too independent to be considered "ours." And she's not part of the feral colony - she just never integrated as the colony grew. She's just a very independent outdoor kitty who has taken a shine to us. We made the hard decision to find her a permanent home, and are working with Maine Coon Rescue to find her a full time home now. I think that if not next weekend, then the weekend after that, we'll be driving her up to her potential new home.

So...I've been able to spend a lot of time on the Cat Site while we've been working a reduced load due to Gary's back surgeries. We're gearing back up for work, and the spay/neuter advocacy will probably start chewing up lots of time.

But TCS has totally changed my life. I now have a husband who would kill for our cats (instead of killing the cats!), and there is a wonderful support network where I can share and care without fear of judgment and get lots of great advice. Being on the road all of the time (in the past) has kind of gotten in the way of making new friendships (other than professional ones). But most of my business friends live in NY, and hubby & I live 2 1/2 hours away from the city. We're home bodies anyway.

But the bottom line is I can never give back to TCS what it has given me.

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Oh - about Laz and Shel and the engine. We haul them around in the car with us pretty frequently. They snooze through it and seem pretty laid back about it. We haven't moved the R.V. since we adopted them (We'd just taken it in for its emission test and a tune-up before we rescued them).

We turn the R.V. engine over each week. Originally they BOLTED into the bedroom (the safe place). Now Shelly ignores it altogether, and Laz freaks at first, but recovers quickly.

If we do move, at least they get to stay in the exact same home!

We did have a problem with them getting up under the dash board. We've stuffed it full of newspaper, so now there's no way to get in there. We'll have to pull it all out before we travel, and I'm sure we'll put them in the crate to travel. It's their safe place, and will be safer for them.

...but I don't have to think about that until Spring, at the earliest. (Because of Gary's back surgeries we're definitely staying the Winter. I'm not sure how I feel about leaving the area now, but even if we ended up deciding to settle down and purchase a home around here, we'd have to move the feral colony.....)
post #15 of 24
Well we are so glad you have found us!!! You have many online friends now!!!

Wow, Gary has really been through alot with his health! Poor guy!!! I am glad the brain tumor was benign, but what a horrible thing to have to go through!! And I have never heard of Barrett's esophagus...what are the symptoms of that??? I hope he is doing much better now!!!

Thanks for all your work with Samoa and the other cats you have helped! You are an
post #16 of 24
Laurie, I have to disagree with you! You have many people on the Cat Site who consider you a friend. So you have formed friendships. So many of us have followed the story from the beginning, and have come to admire you immensely as a lovely person as well as a wonderful friend to ferals. Life isn't fair at times, is it? I only pray that Gary's health will improve daily. He's had enough trouble! We're very proud of you both.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
So many kind words. I really feel like I am among friends here. And it's kind of strange feeling - a whole network of incredible people "floating" around out there somewhere! When I first found myself crying at someone's loss, or anger at somebody else's pain - joy at someone's new arrival (Kittens, ferals or Amber! ) I was amazed at how emotionally involved I could get with people I've never "met."

And yet, somehow this is a safe place, where I've learned so much about so many of you than I know more about you than people I work with! ...let alone all the support and encouragement I've gotten. ...all emotional... !

What a wonderful world.
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 
Oh - I forgot to answer Sammie5's question: was it a big adjustment when we moved into the R.V.?

For us it really wasn't. It was cozy! In college, I basically lived out of a backpack for years. When I "settled down" in NY after that, I moved apartments a lot - I never bought much in the way of furniture. I did have a large collection of books, many of which I gave away. Gary was in the military for many years (1981 - 1989 basically) and also didn't have much "stuff."

What actually sparked the whole thing was he was sick of flying. After rejoining the civilian world, he worked his way up from working a paper machine to a management position really quickly. (I'll toot his horn - he's quite brilliant). He actually became the youngest ever manager of a Fortune 50 company at the age of 30. He racked up 250,000 air miles - and a comment that he was sick of flying and wished there was someway he could take his closet with him was what sparked the whole thing.

So while it is a small space, all we did was give away everything we didn't need, and we packed the rest into the R.V.! Three boxes of books got sent to my sister. ...but we're both pack rats in terms of books and movies. So we do have a storage facility in Chicago and one here in NJ now. We want to consolidate them...

Believe it or not, we've lived happily together in approx. 210 sq. feet of living space for almost nine years now! !! Of course, we LOVE barbecue!

And for both of us, this is the longest time we've lived in one home since we were children.

So there's the WHOLE story.

post #19 of 24
I just hope we can give back some of the happiness and support you have given us since you have been here!
post #20 of 24
Congrats on the great write up! Congrats!
post #21 of 24
Congratulations Laurie and Gary!!!!!!

Wow, what a dynamic couple you are Kudos to you both :tounge2:
post #22 of 24
What a wonderful story about you two (the write up, I mean). Although, your whole lives are a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us. I really enjoyed reading about what you guys actually do for a living.

I have to agree with you about this site, in general. Hubby was an internet/chat room junkie for years and I never understood how he could consider people he had never met to be his friends. Well, now I understand. I consider many, many people on this site to be friends.

Hey, you know going on the road again may not be too bad for you...You could probably meet up with more members of TCS than any of the rest of us could!
post #23 of 24
Thread Starter 
Heidi - I'm absolutely laughing! ...but it could be the REAL road trip - who's providing the spam? ROTFL!

...I can never tell if I'm "talking" too much, but we do lead an unusual life, and we are definitely different. And you don't know the half of it yet!

Want some more? Again, the short version.

Meet my husband, Gary:

Gary, now dis-owned, is the son of a wealthy family. He played on the Jr. PGA tour, skied pre-olympic, played one hole of golf with Frank Sinatra at age 10; played one hole of golf with Nixon at 11, played three holes of golf with Spiro Agnew and Brzinski at 11. He was cast as the Page in La Traviata (opera) at 12 (on Chicago's equivalent of Broadway, not the school play), left home at 15, and since then is completely self-made. He received a special dispensation to trade commodities board at age 19 (and turned $25,000 for his investors into $1.2 million in one year), then moved to Israel, where he immediately volunteered for the army. His U.S. Citizenship was suspended because he wanted a combat unit. He served in the Israeli Defense Forces for almost 9 years, and fought in the Israeli war against Lebanon from 1982 - 1985. The Israeli Army has only field promotions during war, and he went from basically "new recruit" to Master Sargeant within 2 1/2 years. He is three times decorated. He moved back to the States and "reclaimed" his citizenship in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. He felt he'd served Israel well already. When he moved back here, he got a job on the floor of a paper plant and worked his way up fast and furiously. He became the youngest Regional Manager ever at the age of 30 - he was responsible for 6900 employees, 23 plants and $1.6 billion in sales. No wonder I'm proud.

And no wonder he had a breakdown. He became an alcoholic and essentially had a kind of nervous breakdown. He packed what he wanted into his car (Saabi) and drove to Seattle to see an old mutual friend of ours. It was then he decided to look me up again (found my parents just one month before they retired and moved to GA from IL. They gave him my number at work). And we got him all fixed up and totally changed both of our lifestyles. We were both divorced and started completely over at age 30. He had what he had in his car. I had my ex-husband's debts. So while we're in a "sexy" industry (well - during the 90s it was), we've chewed out our little piece of it, and he is now our firm's Chief Investment Strategist. I'm proud of that too.

We had one of his medals (made of 18 karat gold) made into our wedding rings.

All this stuff really is like a fairy tale for me.

post #24 of 24
Oh Laurie, congratulations, mate!!

You go girl!!
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