Concorde Blog - Mar 25, 2020
April 16, 1984. That's the first day Lanita Eatman walked through the doors of Concorde Career Colleges, Inc.'s corporate offices.
Only, it wasn't Concorde Career Colleges back then. And, the offices were on the 10th floor of a building at City Center Square in downtown Kansas City, at 10th and Main Streets, not in suburban Mission, Kan., where they're located today.
Seen a lot of changes
Eatman, who's worked as an accounting coordinator her entire 32 years with Concorde, has seen a lot of changes in that time. But the basic core of who Concorde is and what Concorde does has always remained constant and is what has kept her around all this time.
"I've always just liked the way Concorde treats its people," she said. "We've seen ups and downs. But even during the lowest points, we're always a team. Concorde doesn't give up on its students or its people. It's always very family oriented."
When Eatman started with the company, it was called Cencor. It was a parent company that owned career colleges and also started what is now La Petite Academy, the childrens' daycare. In the late 1980s, Concorde spun off from Cencor. At that time, there were 22 campuses across the country, including campuses in Minneapolis, Van Nuys, Calif. and two in the Houston area. And, the company was involved in more than just health care training.
"They also owned a paralegal school at one time," Eatman said.
Specializing in health care training with campuses around the country
Campuses closed and opened over the years. One campus was closed in Dallas only to have Concorde acquire and open another. There used to be a campus in southern suburban Kansas City, in Overland Park, Kan. In recent years, campus locations were added in San Antonio and Southaven, Miss., all specializing in health care training.
The accounting department also has changed quite a bit over the years, Eatman said. When she started, she said there were between 50-60 working in the department. Today, there are roughly 15.
"Back then, it was not as automated," she said. "They had a separate computer team whose job it was to enter all the data we'd documented by hand."
Eatman said she has three co-workers who have been with Concorde nearly as long, or even longer than she has - Lisa Henak, senior executive assistant, Mona Armilio, fiscal officer, and Peggy Ciafullo, operations manager.
And now, she will be the first to depart. Eatman is retiring from Concorde on Oct. 28 of this year.
"It's kind of a strange feeling," she said. "It's like I'll be leaving my family. Concorde is part of my family. If they ever need me to do anything, I'll be available."
Looking to the future
Just because she is retiring doesn't mean Eatman will stop working. A native of Warrensburg, Mo. and mother of two grown children, she plans on joining her husband, Luther, to work full-time in the ministry they started in Kansas City 13 years ago - Bridge of Hope Community Church. It reaches out to people with marginal lives - drug addicts, victims of abuse, homeless.
"We have to raise support," she said. "God gave us this calling, so it's what we have to do."
Before that, however, she intends on enjoying some time with her family, which includes five grandchildren. They plan on embarking on a cruise to the Bahamas around Thanksgiving.
"Then, it's back to work," she said.