- 1 Biography
- 2 Occupations
- 3 Controversies
- 4 Political connections
- 5 Corporate connections
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Family and early life
Omaha business dealings
- US Air Force: Pilot
- Strategic Air Command Consultation Committee: Member
- IBM: Salesman (1960-1968)
- MidAmerica Bankcard Association: President (1968-1970)
- First Data Resources: Founder and CEO (1970-1988)
- American Express: President of a financial services division (1980-1988)
- FirsTier Financial: Board member (19??-1988)
- Cronus Industries: President and CEO (1988-1998)
- BRC Holdings: President and CEO (1988-1998)
- [An unspecified chamber of commerce in Omaha]: Board member
- Omaha Boys Club: Board member
- Edward Zorinsky (Nebraska Senator)
- Hal Daub (Nebraska congressman)
- George H.W. Bush
Omaha business community
Dallas business community
- Hunt family? (especially Caroline Hunt)
- Texas Observer, "Democracy in the Computer Age" by Ronnie Dugger, 1988/11/11: "LAST MAY Perry E. Esping of Nebraska and New York, a well-established entrepreneur in the corporate software field, replaced Rundell as chief executive officer (though the latter continues as chairman) and took over day-to-day control of Cronus by acquiring what was deemed to be 12 percent ownership of the company through a ten-million-dollar loan he made to it. Who is Perry Esping?
He was born 52 years ago in Minnesota. After serving as an Air Force pilot, he obtained a business degree at the University of Minnesota in 1960 and spent his next ten years as a salesman for IBM in Omaha, which became his home base. After a few years as president of the MidAmerica Bankcard Association, in 1971 he founded and ran First Data Resources, Inc., of Omaha, a computer software company which provides data-based services to financial institutions.
"Esping is a tremendous guy," said one businessman who is interested in his endeavors, but did not want to be named. "He built a computer software company — it was appreciating at 42 percent. a year." Esping was also a director of FirsTier Financial, a bank holding company the principal assets of which are national banks in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. (He gave up that position after he took over Cronus in 1988.) In Omaha he was active, too, in civic and military affairs, sitting on the boards of the chamber of commerce, the United Way, the Boys Club, Nebraska Methodist Hospital, Bellevue College, and BioNexus, Inc., and serving as a member of the Strategic Air Command Consultation Committee.
His First Data was so successful that in 1980 he was able to sell it to American Express and join the financial giant to run his former enterprise. "We acquired it and him along with it," said Matthew J. Stover, Amex's vice-president for corporate communications. That year American Express described itself as "one of the world's leaders in the use of computer systems" and First Data, its new subsidiary, as one of the largest third-party, data-based processors of debit and credit cards in the country, handling about 12 million card accounts held by almost 4,000 financial institutions and correspondents. Esping became president of a new Amex financial services division and continued as CEO of First Data. By last year First Data was providing billing services for securities systems, cable television companies, hospitals, and doctors. The four most politically prominent members of the 18-member board of directors of American Express in 1987 were Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., the black leader, and Henry A. Kissinger, Anne L. Armstrong, and Drew Lewis, all well-known Republicans. Former President Gerald R. Ford was one of four advisors to the board.
Tired of New York City, according to Stover, Esping quit American Express and last spring moved to Dallas. There, in the arrangement that was deemed to have given him the ownership of one-eighth of Cronus, in exchange for his loan to the firm he acquired notes convertible into special preferred stock. According to records on file at the SEC, half of the ten million dollars came from Esping's own "available funds," while the other half was a loan he had made in turn from a Dallas bank. In recent years, according to reports from Washington OnLine, a responsible campaign-contributions research organization, Esping has made contributions to Democratic Senator Edward Zorinsky and Republican Congressman Hal Daub of that state, and in 1987 Esping gave a thousand dollars to the Presidential campaign of George Bush.
When Esping replaced Rundell as CEO in May, he was asked to reconsider Rundell's position on the matter of providing information. "The bottom line," Esping responded by telephone on July 18, "is that we have from time to time talked to the press about our position in the marketplace, and — well, I haven't been here, but they tell me that a hundred percent of the time it's backfired. It's helped one place and hurt someplace else. There's no percentage in talking." I asked Esping some questions about his background and politics. "Lot of things — why I did what I did — I see some downside on that," he said."
- Esping Family Foundation bio of Perry E. “Bill” Esping (1935-1998): "Following graduation from the University of Minnesota and service in the Air Force, Bill Esping held a variety of marketing and management positions at IBM. He left his job with IBM in 1968 when two Omaha bank presidents asked him to manage a charge-card system called Mid-America Bancard Associations established by a cooperative of banks in several states.
In 1970, Esping and several colleagues asked member banks for permission to launch their own company, First Data Resources (FDR). The company broke even the first year and grew rapidly, becoming the first company to process both Visa (then called BankAmericard) and MasterCard (then called Master Charge) transactions. FDR reached $50 million in annual income and 2,000 employees by 1980, when it was purchased by American Express Co. of New York.
Following the acquisition, Esping worked as a member of the senior management team at American Express. He continued to run First Data as a division of American Express until his departure in 1988. First Data is now a separate publicly traded company and today is the largest credit card processor in the world. First Data Resources is a business unit of First Data Corp. with over 11,000 employees worldwide, including 7,000 in Nebraska. The company has become a major player in the world of electronic commerce, serving more than 1,400 banks and other credit card issuers representing 300 million card accounts worldwide.
Esping became the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BRC Holdings, a $107 million annual revenue Dallas information technology consulting and data processing company until his death in mid-1998.
EFO Holdings, L.P. (Esping Family Office) was founded in Dallas in 1994, based on the philosophy of Perry E. “Bill” Esping, using the Esping family assets as a platform in building a premiere family-oriented investment firm."
- Bellevue University Alumni Blog, "Perry E. “Bill” Esping Made His Mark on a Growing University" by Bill Wax, 2017/03/20: "Perry E. “Bill” Esping joined Bellevue College’s Board of Directors in 1980. One of several new directors recruited from the greater Omaha area to broaden the College’s support base, Esping brought business acumen and a strong entrepreneurial track record—valuable assets for a young college seeking to develop new program offerings to grow enrollment.
Esping is best known in business circles as the principal founder of First Data Resources of Omaha. A true entrepreneur, he left IBM in 1968 to manage a charge-card system called Mid-America Bancard Association, a regional bank cooperative. In 1970, he and several colleagues asked member banks for permission to launch their own company, First Data Resources, which was the first company to process both VISA (then called BankAmericard) and Master Card (formerly Master Charge) transactions. The company broke even in its first year and within a decade reached $50 million in annual income and 2,000 employees. It was purchased by American Express Co. of New York in 1980. Now headquartered in Atlanta, First Data Resources is a business unit of First Data Corporation, a separately traded company and the largest credit card processor in the world.
Esping served on the Bellevue University Board of Directors from 1980 to 1988 and was one of three influential directors involved in the search committee which hired John B. Muller as the third president of Bellevue University in 1985. A strong believer and advocate for free enterprise, he was an early supporter of the Esping Center for Free Enterprise at Bellevue University, which was later renamed the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, publishing the Bottom Line newsletter. He also was a founding member of the Bellevue University Foundation Board.
After selling First Data Resources, Esping launched BRC Holdings, a Dallas-based information technology services and data processing company. In 1994, the family established the Esping Family Foundation, which is philosophically rooted in free-enterprise and strives “to help others help themselves by supporting active programs with strong leadership and entrepreneurial activity.” At the time of his death in 1998, he was chairman and CEO of BRC Holdings. In 2001, he was inducted posthumously into the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame."
- Other spellings of his name: Perry E. Esping ; Bill Esping
- Kyle Hale, "McCarthy Group", 2004/04/02: "On a personal note, as a student at the George Bush School of Government and Public Policy at Texas A&M University (headed by Robert Gates, former CIA director and long-time member of the Council for National Policy, far-right think tank of the Reagan administration), I get to meet a lot of captivating and interesting conservative speakers who make their way to special conferences here. From Dan Quayle to Newt Gingrich to the former President himself, they've all come down and given a speech or two and done Q&A with us political science students. These occasions are usually pretty stiff and formal, and certainly nobody threw any "potatoe" jokes at the former Veep when he was here. There was one exception to this: P.E. Esping.
Esping is a businessman from Dallas who was here to discuss new corporate laws and their effect on the economy (long story short: business is good). But apparently (and unbeknownst to me) Esping used to be CEO of Business Records Corporation, which was bought up in 1997 during the Election Systems & Software trust deal. This company, owned by Cronus Industries (the main money of the Hunt oil company - needless to say, this all gets convoluted rather quickly, but trust me, it's a lot of money and it's conservative to the core.) and thus Esping had direct contact with the (ultimately secretive) owners and executives of the Omaha World-Herald, ES&S, and the McCarthy Group. One inflamed member of the crowd began throwing all kinds of accusations at Esping, asking how much it would cost "to buy a vote" and "who owns the voting machines" and all sorts of vitriol. Esping laughed nervously at first, but apparently his Texas pride got the best of him, and he spewed back some really banal but interesting comments about fighting "liberalism at all fronts" and whatnot. After the spectator had been (rightfully) removed for interrupting the proceedings, Esping made a very simple but chilling comment: "Lucky for us that THOSE people don't own the voting machines.""
Possible intelligence links
- SEC document from 1995 on Intrust Financial Corporation of Wichita KS: "Included in other noninterest expenses are the Company's payments to Systematics, Inc. and M&I Data Services for data processing services and to First Data Resources, Inc. for bankcard processing."