Newcomb Was Family: A Trip through Newcomb’s History with Helen Mangum

 

Old-Newcomb-Office-1When Helen Mangum says there’s no better company than Newcomb and Company, she’s passionate. She sits forward in her chair as she talks about her more than 50 years with the business, bright-eyed and spry, reliving the experience as if it were the most fun of her life. And it was.

Helen was the lifelong executive assistant (or, as she points out, “…secretary — we just called them secretaries back then!”) to Charles Allen “Bo” Newcomb, Newcomb and Company’s founder and father of the current president, Robert Newcomb. She saw every bit of the company’s growth from an 11-person team in one cinder block room to a thriving business employing hundreds of people across the state. To her, Newcomb is family.

In January of 1956, just two years after Bo returned to Raleigh with an electrical engineering degree from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey and got his fledgling company off the ground, Helen walked in Newcomb and Company’s doors for the first time. Air conditioning was a very new technology, and it was rare in Raleigh homes. “In fact,” she explains, “for the first four or five years, most of our business was just heating.”

But in a move that would become characteristic of our innovation, Newcomb took a gamble. Bo Newcomb bet that the thriving new trend would win over the sweltering South … and won. “By the early 1960s, A/C took off. Everybody wanted their house air conditioned,” Helen says, grinning. “In fact, I’ve often said that it was much easier to satisfy a cold customer than a hot customer. People who hadn’t had air conditioning for 50 years would have it for two weeks, and if something went wrong, they wanted someone to come fix it immediately. Right now! They just couldn’t wait!”

And Newcomb “was just as excited as our customers were,” she continues. “We were just so excited to say, ‘We’re installing air in so-and-so’s house today! It was fun!’”

Back then, Helen was a one-woman (and only-woman!) show, fielding every call from every customer, dispatching service providers, keeping the books, scheduling, and in general making sure the business grew in an orderly fashion.

That great pride in her work and in her company still shows. “There was nothing any prettier than a balance sheet in my handwriting. That was pretty work,” she says. “A full year’s work in one sheet, but countless hours getting it onto that sheet. That was pretty work.”

Time brought her new assistants, and the advent of technology turned her balance sheets digital. Newcomb was growing, and Raleigh with it — in the 60 years of Newcomb’s existence, Raleigh has grown from around 65,000 people to more than 400,000. And as Helen says, “we worked hard” to get there. But as the decades have progressed, we’ve kept the small-town values that made us a success in the first place: dedication to good, honest work. Work that people like Helen can continue to be truly proud of.

“There’s no one better,” she says. “Loyalty, pride in our work, and just [doing] a good job. Just a good job” made Newcomb the Triangle’s, and now Wilmington’s, most trusted home service company.

Helen retired in 2009 (do that math — that’s 53 years!), but she’ll tell you that her years at Newcomb meant the world to her. That Newcomb was “protective — like a family.” That Bo Newcomb and every Newcomb employee were “superb.”

At Newcomb today, we strive to make every customer feel about our service the same way Helen feels about her long career with us. We want you to experience superb service from a company dedicated to doing the right thing by every person we encounter, customer and employee alike. We want you to find out what’s kept Newcomb growing and thriving for more than 60 years: employees like Helen, good home service advice, expertise in our industry, and values that matter.

“We were one big happy family,” says Helen. We still are. And we’ll treat you like family, too. If you need home services, give us a call today, and be a part of our history.

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