Avery Group owner Leatora J. Morse
Leatora J. Morse credits strong professional relationships with helping her small business, Avery Group, grow and flourish.

When a banking relationship ‘feels like family’

Small business owner Leatora J. Morse says the trust she has in her Wells Fargo banker “means everything.”

May 9, 2017

It was “love at first phone call.”

That’s how Leatora J. Morse, a small business owner, describes her first conversation with her Wells Fargo banker, Cecilia Ramos.

“It was 2008, an exciting and nervous time for me. I had won my first contract for my new business, Avery Group, and to answer the phone and have Cecilia say, ‘I’m your Wells Fargo banker, and I work for you,’ was just what I needed to hear.”

Leatora J. Morse, owner of Avery Group, has developed a personal bond with her Wells Fargo banker, Cecilia Ramos. (3 minutes)

For Morse, whose staffing business provides janitorial and food services for military bases across the country, having a relationship with Ramos goes beyond her company’s financial health.

“Now, nine years later, Cecilia is not just looking after my accounts, she’s planting the seeds — like the idea of owning my own office space versus renting — to help me think bigger as I plan for my future,” Morse said. “That’s why I trust her.”

To build and encourage deep client relationships like the one Morse and Ramos have, the Wells Fargo Small Business team hosts an annual Small Business Appreciation Celebration. This year’s event, taking place April 1–May 31, will focus on the role small businesses have in strengthening local communities and highlight the tools, resources, and customer service Wells Fargo provides to fuel their success.

Paying it forward

Morse said she’s been fortunate to have strong advocates for her small business, including her former employer.

As a 16-year-old cashier at a Chicago-area fast-food restaurant, Morse impressed the owner with her work ethic and desire to learn. After several years of working her way up at the restaurant, she was offered the opportunity to broaden her business skills at the owner’s separate, contract-based food and janitorial services business.

“I started to work these contracts, acting as the on-site project and operations manager at military bases in different parts of Illinois,” Morse said. “Eventually I was offered a job with my boss’s son’s new business in California, with part of the agreement that after two years, they would help me start my own company.”

Today, Morse still has a close relationship with her former employer, whom she sees as her mentor and who inspires her to help her own employees.

“The best thing about having that relationship is that I have someone to go to whenever I run into a question or concern,” said Morse. “My idea is to pay it forward, to make sure I always teach someone the things he taught me.”

Throughout her nearly decade-long relationship with Wells Fargo, Morse continues to call on Ramos throughout her small business journey.

“I know that Cecilia cares for me, and that’s how it went from business to personal,” said Morse. “Now it feels like family, like I’m calling my mom to say, ‘Here’s some good news.’”

Contributors: Matt Wadley
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