Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Out of this has come a community," by Theresa Tedesco,

September 7, 2002, National Post, "Out of this has come a community," by Theresa Tedesco, (Financial Post),

The reminders are constant: the memories like glowing embers that burn hot and slow in the mind of Howard Lutnick.

The 41-year-old chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald LP emerged as one of the most unforgettable and controversial figures in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11.

The brash treasury bond trader with the slicked-back hair, who had seemed the embodiment of the financial might of New York, had been reduced to public displays of sobbing. At times, he appeared overcome with grief and guilt.

"It was a nightmare and when we wake up every morning, it's still there," he said, in an interview with the Financial Post this week in his midtown Manhattan office. "At Cantor Fitzgerald, our hearts were ripped apart and the remnants are still there. From the minute I wake up to the last moment before I go to sleep, it's in my every waking moment. There is nothing in-between."

Sitting in his corner office, about a hundred blocks north of the scene of the carnage, Mr. Lutnick is relatively composed heading into the first anniversary of the attacks. A Rodin sculpture of a hand, with three fingers missing, sits on a desk, recovered from the rubble at Ground Zero.

Cantor Fitzgerald's new U.S. headquarters are modest, 80,000 square feet over five floors in a decidedly low-brow building. Mr. Lutnick's office is on the third floor.

"Did we do that on purpose?" he asks, anticipating the obvious question. "You're darn right we did."

His day began at breakfast with one of the families who lost a loved one employed at Cantor Fitzgerald. By the end of the day, Mr. Lutnick will have had similar meetings with at least two other grieving families. For the past year, his routine has been an average of three meetings or telephone chats a day, each at a minimum of 20 minutes, and his rule is that he never hangs up first.

"There's so many," he says, rattling off the casualty statistics by rote---658 employees perished, or two-thirds of the company's 1,050 employees in New York. He hired about 200 of them personally.

Among the fatalities, 165 senior partners at the firm; his 36-year-old brother, Gary; 20 family pairings; 48 others who had been engaged to be married.


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