Would you make a loan agreement with a banker who has a beard?
Apparently, officers of Lynchburg-based Fidelity American Bank have some doubts.
According to James Dearing Fauntleroy III, he lost his job with the Virginia bank several weeks ago because he wouldn't shave away his beard.
A number of top corporate customers upon whom Fauntleroy called for the bank have praised both Fauntleroy and his beard since he was fired on Nov. 3 but, predictably, no customer has decided to withdraw business from Fidelity American to protest.
Officers of the bank declined to discuss the Fauntleroy case. William Smith, corporate personnel director, said only that Fauntleroy was bounced "for not complying with company policy." A similar response was sent to an American Civil Liberties Union Lawyer who inquired after Bein contacted by the ousted bannker.
Fauntleroy said the "company policy" he violated is an unwritten ban on travelling bank representatives having beards, for fear of offending some customers. Fauntleroy joined the bank in 1976 after working six years at First & Merchants in Lynchburg and First National Exchange Bank in Roanoke.
At Fidelity, he was an assistant vice president in the national division responsible for commercial lending and correspondent bank relations. As such, he called on bank presidents and presidents or treasurers of business.
Trouble began earlier this year. He started to grow a beard in February and was "taken off the road" during the summer-because of the beard, he said. "Up until this point, good customer rapport continued as it always had," he recalled.
On Oct. 30, Fauntleroy said, he was called into a meeting with senior officers and told to go home for the rest of the week and think about shaving. On Nov. 3, he was dismissed. Reportedly, an internal bank memo described him as having "shoulder-length" hair but Fauntleroy said "my hair has never been below the bottom of my collar."
Currently, his beard is short and neat. And he is looking for work. There are no plans for legal action but Fauntleroy has a collection of letters from former customers. James Hoge, director of corporate planning at Best Products, wrote: "I was very sorry to hear of the turn of events at Fidelity. Although I once had a similar experience in the Army, I'm not sure how I would react at this time were I in your position."
MORE PITCHES-Metropolitan Washington has a growing number of privately financed or government funded economic development offices-all trying to bring new business and jobs here.
Invariably, business and government leaders point to the success of Virginia's statewide promotion efforts over the past decade as evidence of what accomplishments can be made.
But statewide promotion doesn't pinpoint any one specific location within a state's boarders as the best site. Thus, Fairfax County has built an impressive record of its own in this business.
Now, governments in metropolitan Richmond are moving in the same direction. A Metropolitan Economic Development Council there is "off to a running start" after six months, having contacted more than 35 corporations about locating facilities there.
The council is financed by Richmond and the Counties of Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover and is headed by James O. Picone, executive director. The council may try to exploit the state's famous "Virginia Is for Lovers" travel promotion by describing the Richmond area as "We're in the Heart of Virginia."
Closer to home, the new administration of Gov-Elect Harry Hughes in Maryland will have to reappropriate $300,000 previously offered to help establishment of a Baltimore-Washington Common Market, formed recently by Washington and Baltimore business executives to promote the entire region from Loudon county in Virginia to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border.
Business in the two cities have pledged $150.000 for each community, which will mean a starting budget of $600,000 if the Maryland aid is approved.
Maryland, meanwhile is stepping up its own statewide promotion. In Business Week magazine this week, and other publications, is a color photograph of President Carter, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The advertisement says: "Close to Power: Government, Buying, Brain, Sea, Air, Food. This and more in the Maryland Marketplace." The site of the Middle East summit of course, was Camp David, near Thurmont, Md.
AROUND THE BELTWAY: Geico Corp., the proposed new parent firm of Government Employees Insurance Co., intends to declare a quarterly cash dividend in 19799 of 8 cents a share on then-outstanding shares, a payout rate higher than Geico's recent dividends. Geico, an automobile insurance firm, will become the main subsidiary of the proposed new holding company, if the corporate change is approved by stockholders at a special meeting Jan. 31, and by regulators. Geico will pay a dividend of 5 cnets a share on Dec. 29.
Martin Marietta Corp., of bethesda, is planning capital outlays of $280 million in 1979-a record. Chairman J. Donald Rauth told Dow Jones News Service that while some business are getting cautious, his firm does not think next year is a time to slow down, with sales and profits at record levels. The previous high capital spending was $213 million, budgeted for 1978.
People close to G. Michael Hostage, the top Marriott Corp. executive whose departure for the presidency of ITT Continental bakning Co. was announced Monday, say he had been looking for another opportunity for one or two years. One purported reason: Marriott's increasing emphasis on fast-food restaurants, instead of more complete restaurants that Hostage believed to require more direct management skills that he had.