Joe Ball told the Association that the image of the business greatly needed improvement. Unfavorable stories had already appeared in the newspaper and there were rumblings that a State Senate investigating committee, headed by Benjamin Donolow, was going to look into sales finance paper. He suggested that he and Harry Karafin be hired as special consultants. The fee would be $25,000 a year.
One Association member says that they sounded sincere in their desire to help, but his fellow members felt that the price was too steep. However, when the fee was cut in half the membership was practically unanimous in deciding to take advantage of the services that Ball and Karafin could provide.
Ball and Karafin worked for the Association for about a year, Ball handling some press releases and turning out an Association newsletter, among other things. At the end of that time, however, the Association decided to drop Ball and retain only Karafin. Ball later claimed that the Association owed him $6000 under the arrangement and went as far as to begin collection proceedings, but dropped the matter after agreeing to a lower settlement. Karafin, meanwhile continued to receive between $250 and $300 a month as the Association’s public relations consultant.
He is still receiving payment. Last month, following Karafin’s parting with the Inquirer and the spreading rumors of a forthcoming article about him in PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE, the members of the Association met to decide whether or not to retain him as consultant. Karafin reassured the members that his departure from the newspaper was only temporary and that the whole thing would blow over. Aaron Gold, president of the Association, assured Karafin that the members had faith in him, were grateful for the work that he had done for them and would continue him in his public relations capacity.
Aaron Gold happens to be president of Oxford Finance. For some reason, Oxford Finance was one of the firms which felt it was necessary to make use of Karafin’s services over and above what he could do for it as a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Sales and Finance. It has paid Karafin extra for this. But Oxford is one of the biggest members of the Association. It was, in fact, among the largest buyers of debt consolidation second mortgage paper in the country.
ARBITRARY THOUGH IT may be, it might be concluded that the members of the Pennsylvania Association of Sales and Finance were more appreciative of the type of public relations Harry Karafin could provide for them than any of his other clients. After all, the executives of these commercial finance firms weren’t the suede-shoe, door-to-door salesmen type. They were respected community members and civic leaders, philanthropists and charity directors, men for whom unfavorable publicity meant more than just a loss of money or reduced profits. They were men truly concerned with public image.
Much as the First Pennsylvania Banking and Trust Company might be.