(UGC) of New York City. I was blessed
with a basso profundo, a deep voice
that is also useful in corporate recovery.
I am a large man, so when I work on
a case with folks who don’t know me,
pretty early in that relationship people
find out that I was also an offensive
linemen in college, playing for Yale
at a time when Carm Cozza’s football
teams won five Ivy League titles in six
years. Twelve of my teammates played
in the NFL. I was proud to be on that
team and play for Carm Cozza, who’s
in the College Football Hall of Fame.
Being a former college offensive
lineman, I can be a little aggressive and
get in your face. I warn people, “Don’t
be intimidated by that. It’s nothing
personal.” That’s been something that
over the years I’ve learned to manage
and moderate as much as I can.
Q All smart guys on top of that—a talented group.
The Yale teams I played
for included pretty extraordinary
people. In the 1980 athletic guide at
Yale—I remember this because I was
recently inducted into my high school
Athletic Hall of Fame, so I had to give
an induction speech—the Sports
Information Office noted that the 1980
team, which was my senior season, had
48 high school captains, 66 members
of the National Honor Society, 10
valedictorians, five salutatorians, and
14 student body or high school
Q Your musical interests ran parallel to your interests in sports?
Absolutely. Doing both of
them were things that my folks felt
strongly about. I was also the world’s
worst tenor saxophone player, but it
was mostly through my singing that I
followed my musical interests. I had
parts in all the musicals in high school
and even did one in college.
Q Then you continued with the University Glee Club after you
I sang as an
undergraduate at Yale, but I didn’t come
to New York with people who knew
about the University Glee Club. I ran into
a banker friend of mine whose dad
sang, and he introduced me to the UGC.
Yes, 29 years as a singer,
When I moved from New York to
Baltimore, I stayed active for a couple
more years. It’s great fun. The caliber of
music is quite high, the halls are terrific,
the gentlemen are top-notch, and after
each rehearsal they do an afterglow,
which can be beautiful music or
sometimes riotously funny.
You know the old joke, “How do you
get to Carnegie Hall?” The UGC has
been around since 1894 and performs
twice a year in premier concert
venues of New York City. Thus, I have
literally had solos at Carnegie Hall,
Avery Fisher, and the White House.
Q When did you perform at the White House?
It was during a Christmas
holiday season during the George W.
Bush administration. The president and
Mrs. Bush were not in the residence
when we were there. It was an
incentive program for the military
around the District of Columbia. All
branches of the military were
represented—Air Force, Marines, Navy,
and Army—wearing their dress
uniforms and accompanied by their
wives and dates, and all the ladies were
coiffed and dressed to the nines, like
those on the Academy Awards red
carpet. You could just tell these people
were so proud and up for it.
We were just 25 guys singing in the
background for their entertainment,
but it was a tremendous honor and
great to be in that important building.
Q Do you have a favorite performance?
In 1994, at the Centennial
Anniversary concert, the University
Glee Club sang at Carnegie Hall. Every
year, the UGC holds a quartet contest,
and my quartet won that year. We
kicked off the second half of the
program at Carnegie Hall singing
Irving Berlin’s “Alexander’s Ragtime
Band,” and I had a nice solo line.
Q How did you gravitate into turnaround/restructuring work?
Coming out of college I
and after two years I was applying to
business school—that was the typical
pattern in the early 1980s.
The bank started a new “golden
handcuff” program that year whereby
it would send select employees to earn
an MBA at Columbia Business School
on full scholarship—three summers of
class work—with an agreement that we
would work for the bank for three years.
Because I was away for those three
summers, I could not maintain
customer continuity with my clients,
so they moved me into Loan Workout
at a time when very few “marketing”
bankers were sent to work in that
department. I fell in love with the
“dark side” and realized early on that
special situations work is an effective
route to financial engineering
to preserve the enterprise.
I didn’t go to college with the dream
of becoming a corporate recovery
professional. It just happened. And
now I look over almost 35 years of
experience, and it all fits together
nicely. Between the transactions I’ve
looked at and the talented folks I’ve had
the privilege of working with, it’s been
a satisfying career and one that I hope I
have at least 10 more years to do. In fact,
it was the deep talent on the consulting
side—professionals like Chad Shandler,
Cliff Zucker, and Kevin Clancy—that
attracted me to CohnReznick Capital.
Q What was it that you found so interesting about restructuring?
One of my first big
restructurings was a company called
Raymond International, which was a
combination of a construction
company and Kaiser Engineering. They
had merged and taken on too much
debt. To service the debt, they were
aggressively bidding jobs and losing a
lot of money because the jobs weren’t
smart assignments to take on.
The decision was made to pursue
a good bank/bad bank strategy
because there were projects and
parts of the company that didn’t
make sense, and then there were
some strong parts of the company,
like the guys in engineering. My
boss at the time gave me this thick
folder and said, “OK, Manning.
You’re the fancy MBA. Go figure out
what these securities are worth.”
The senior lenders were converting
a big pile of senior debt into new