Jesse Knight one of Utah's most important businessmen during the 19th and 20th centuries - probably never imagined that 88 years later the building he had constructed as the financial headquarters for the valley's industries would be the home of a large investment firm.
Like Knight, Piper, Jaffray and Hopwood Inc. invests in the future - and in Provo, officials said as the corporation officially opened its Provo Branch Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and luncheon. Corporate executives and government officials, including Gov. Norman Bangerter, took part in the celebration."Things have really taken off in Utah," Bangerter said. "Utah County is a bright spot in the state. The economy is on the upswing. We have had some hard hits, but we are on the rebound."
He said the state's economy was based entirely on natural resources and agriculture, but service industries have broadened the economy, making society less dependent on those industries.
"We have challenges in Utah without a question," he said. "I have said we needed to add 250,000 new jobs by the year 2000. That's necessary (creating 15,000 to 20,000 every year) to keep pace with the young people coming out of the education system."
Bangerter said Utah is just being discovered by many corporations like Piper, Jaffray and Hopwood, and that makes the future look bright.
The new office, located on the main floor of the Knight building at 1 East Center St., is one of 64 offices in 16 states from New York to Washington state. PJH, started in 1895, is headquartered in Minneapolis.
William Ellis, president of Piper Jaffray, said the company has a strong commitment to the family and community, and it's "very obvious that it is the same here. We feel real good about coming here."
The full-service investment firm works in retail, capital markets and in money management. And even though 1987 was known as a shaky year for the stock market, Piper Jaffray made $180.8 million in revenues.
Ellis said the company is in the best financial condition it has ever been in, and "we feel good about where we are at. We are proud of the base we built up in a tough year."
Stewart Hughes, branch manager of the Provo office, oversees 11 brokers and eight support staff employees. Piper Jaffray has more than 1,800 employees nationwide.
Mayor Joe Jenkins said, "We are really impressed with Piper Jaffray. This is a class organization that adds a lot of class to the city. This is a great marriage and a benefit to have you here in town."