Frank Lautenberg: Soldier, Salesman, Senator

First a Business Leader, Then a Senator


In 1954, Mr. Lautenberg joined tiny Automatic Payrolls, founded a few years earlier to prepare paychecks for textile mills in Paterson, N.J. Automatic moved to the basement of a hotel, which also held the office of Mr. Lautenberg, then a salesman for the Prudential Insurance Co. Already acquaintances from school, Mr. Lautenberg got to know Automatic's founder, Henry Taub, over coffee in the building's restaurant.

"I became intrigued by this service that he was offering, and I volunteered to sell it with no compensation, to prove the worth myself," Mr. Lautenberg told The Wall Street Journal in 2011. Weeks later, he became the company's first salesmen.

Outsourcing work such as payroll was unusual at the time, and Mr. Lautenberg's job involved selling businesses on the concept. "The notion of letting people see your private records was pretty foreign," Mr. Lautenberg told The Journal.

ADP grew quickly, and in 1961 issued stock to fund the purchase of computers. Soon it was handling brokerage clients on Wall Street.

"He was a street guy and he was an intellect," said Joe Taub, the founder's brother and an early ADP employee. "Not many people have that."

Mr. Lautenberg eventually became chairman and chief executive as ADP expanded into Europe in the 1970s. By the time he left to serve in the Senate in 1983, annual revenue totaled $500 million.
Comment: I'm not a fan of his politics but he was a phenomenal man: The oldest (in my mind - too old) Senator, the last WW II vet in the Senate. Kathee has ADP stock in her IRA.

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