This Time Is Different


October 1960.  My dad, 25 years old with a young wife and two young kids, lost his job.  He had worked hard and scraped his way from high school, to selling sporting goods at Montgomery Ward’s, to Assistant Manager at the new Sherwin Williams store, and finally in May of 1959, to Budget Analyst at Cummins Engine Company.  Layoffs at “The Engine Company” were part of life in Columbus, Indiana. 

Laid off.  Scared.  Maybe for a moment but he could not afford to dwell on those emotions.  He had rent to pay and mouths to feed.  Within a couple of days, he had two jobs.  At night, he loaded bags of mail onto trucks at the Post Office.  During the day, he sold new Buicks and a variety of used cars. 

Picture this man: 6’ 3” but looking even taller with his coal black hair worn pompadour-style.  Large, dark-rimmed glasses sat on a face of long, sharp features.  He was so thin he needed daily doses of Davis Grill hamburgers just to hold his pants up.  Each Sunday, Dad proudly strolled the four of us into First Christian Church where he would join other men in dark suits and spit-shined shoes as they marched to the altar from where they would distribute communion and collect our offerings.  Surely, as they walked the bag filled with cash and checks to the night deposit at Irwin Union Bank, Dad and his colleagues would discuss what the recession was doing to our town and their families.  They gave no thought to folding in the face of another adversity.  They couldn’t.  They had no choice but to find a way.

The first decade of my life saw three U.S. recessions.  No one liked these downturns in the economy and the resulting layoffs.  Yet, our town needed Cummins.  And, the management at Cummins did what they had to do during tough times.  If Cummins failed, it would leave behind hundreds of young families grasping for new ways to make a life.  Cummins absolutely had to, not every year, but over time, be profitable.  So, whenever the demand for diesel engines fell off, to save money, Cummins sent employees home.

Today, DCM clients own 205,685 shares of Cummins stock , $24 million worth.  Cummins is not a price on your computer screen.  It is not a stock certificate.  As much as you have heard our firm say differently, Cummins is much more than an organization who sends us juicy dividends.  Cummins is thousands of people.  From the stuffed shirts on the Board of Directors to the crews that ship engines to their customers, Cummins is its people. 

The same is true of every business, big and small, every church, every non-profit, and every government.  As I type this message, millions of people are fighting COVID-19 and not just the disease.  Businesspeople are searching for ways to keep their businesses alive.  Furloughed employees are scrambling for ways to pay their bills.  People in governments around the world are planning how best to keep their citizens afloat.  The warriors in this fight are not businesses or governments.  They are people, good people, no different from my young father or Cummins’ management team in 1960, who found a way.

You are right.  This time it is different.  But isn’t IT always different?

When good people encounter new and different problems, they find ways around them.  Or over them.  Or through them.  If they can’t, good people change their ways.  They do not fold or walk away.  Because they understand that whatever crisis they are facing affects too many people they care about. Good people always find a way. 

What does all of that have to do with the investments DCM manages for you?  Right this minute, nothing about investing makes much sense.  Our boat is moving through a fog.  But that fog will lift, and when it does, we will find that some areas of our economy have run aground.  Some will come through this stronger.  We are counting on the people who run the businesses our clients own.  Their livelihood depends every bit as much as ours does upon the decisions they reach and the actions they take.  We believe without a shadow of doubt that we will get their best effort.  And, that is exactly what I am promising you – our very best. 

My notes welcoming new clients and new employees to DCM never promise happiness or fulfillment of their dreams.  What I do promise is that we will give them our best effort.  The people at DCM, every one of us, Beth, Steve, Jason, Ron, Blake, Mollie, and all of the others pledge to give the best of ourselves, the best decisions we can muster every day for as long as you allow us to work for you.

I’d love to smile and say, “We’ll see you on the other side of this thing,” but this is no rah-rah sales pitch.  We are in this together, and none of us know when it will end.  We have promised you Security, Income, and Growth.  At the moment, each of those are being threatened.

We are not afraid.  We are not worried. You cannot afford for us to be fearful, nor can you afford for us to let worry waste our time or distort our vision.  Right now, you need us to perceive clearly and respond accurately.  And, we will give you our best.

Thank you for counting on us. 

Carol and I are praying for you and yours.

Don’t hesitate to call.  812-480-7259.

Mike Hull

This report was prepared by Donaldson Capital Management, LLC, a federally registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The oral and written communications of an adviser provide you with information about which you determine to hire or retain an adviser. Information in these materials are from sources Donaldson Capital Management, LLC deems reliable, however we do not attest to their accuracy.

An index is a portfolio of specific securities, the performance of which is often used as a benchmark in judging the relative performance to certain asset classes. Indexes are unmanaged portfolios and investors cannot invest directly in an index. An index does not charge management fees or brokerage expenses, and no such fees or expenses were deducted from the performance shown. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The mention of specific securities and sectors illustrates the application of our investment approach only and is not to be considered a recommendation by Donaldson Capital Management, LLC.

S&P 500: Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index. The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged, capitalization-weighted index designed to measure the performance of the broad U.S. economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.