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Pundit Mailbag — Moral Character Carries The Industry In Hard Economic Times

Our piece, “You’ve Restored Our Faith In Humanity” Award, told a touching story of the role of honor and integrity in business and in life. It brought this nice note:

What a wonderful story in the Pundit of Lisa McNeece honoring her verbal commitment and dividing the $25K price winnings. As you said, it speaks loudly & clearly to her integrity and character. And, yes, it does indeed help to restore our faith in humanity.

Your reference to Moral Responsibility Ratings — in comparison to credit ratings — is “spot on.” In my 25+ years with Blue Book Services, never have I observed the quantity of credit worth rating & pay description reductions reported over the past 18 months or so, brought about in large part by the difficult economic circumstances.

Yet, in my opinion, commerce — albeit at reduced levels — continued in the produce industry because credit-grantors appropriately considered moral responsibility ratings in combination with the lower credit or pay ratings. More to the point, faith and trust in the character of one’s trading partners was a factor in helping our industry persevere through difficult times when other industries apparently seized up when credit extensions simply weren’t possible based on debtors’ financial strength alone.

We remain grateful for the close working partnership with the fresh produce industry which makes this unique, time-tested rating system possible.

And, our continued thanks for the insightful and thought-provoking views from the Perishable Pundit.

— Jim Bartelson
Executive Vice-President
Blue Book Services
Chicago, Illinois

We appreciate Jim’s kind words and find his note insightful. We are reminded of the famous exchange between J.P. Morgan and Samuel Untermyer, the counsel for the House Committee On Banking and Currency, at the famous hearings convened by Arsène P. Pujo, (D–La. 7th):

Untermyer: Is not commercial credit based primarily upon money or property?

Morgan: No, sir. The first thing is character.

Untermyer: Before money or property?

Morgan: Before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it … a man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom.

Of course, the logical inference here is that in conducting yourself in business, gaining a reputation is a crucial variable for success. We thank Jim Bartelson and Produce Reporter Co./Blue Book Services for providing a tangible reminder of that fact.

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