Five years later: From Lehman executive to handyman

Two employees of Christie's auction house maneuver the Lehman Brothers corporate logo on September 24, 2010 in London, England.

Sunday marks the five year anniversary of Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy -- an event many view as the major trigger for the 2008 financial crisis.

While many Lehman Brothers top executives moved on to similar posts at other banks, David Ambinder left the financial sector entirely. The former senior vice president of global business support services now owns a Mr. Handyman franchise in Union, New Jersey. 

“It was extremely shocking,” he says. “I had to kind of make decisions quickly.” 

So he thought back to some of his own past home repair needs, and ultimately came upon Mr. Handyman.

Though Ambinder isn’t a handyman himself, he says he doesn’t need to be. He uses carpentry, electrical tools and plumbing jargon on the job, but at its core, his work as a business owner isn’t such a dive from Wall Street -- he still focuses management and development. 

“I needed some way of creating income,” he says. “And I didn’t think it was in banking anymore."

One month after Lehman Brothers announced bankruptcy, Ambinder poured his savings into the franchise. 

Lehman's Legacy: A Timeline Follow the key events before and after the Lehman Brothers collapse, and see how the financial crisis unfolded. Follow the timeline

To add to the family’s already disconcerting financial situation, both of Ambinder’s daughters were going to college in 2008 -- and even with no paychecks from Wall Street coming in, financial aid offices still said the family didn’t qualify for help. 

“When Lehman went under, my reaction was just work to death ‘til you figure out a way to make a living for your family,” he says.

Ambinder once managed about 500 people globally. Now he oversees fewer than 10. But even if Ambinder could go back to the glamorous days of Wall Street, he says he wouldn’t.

“I could never see myself on that train to Manhattan anymore.” 

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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