Enron wasn't all bad news for one couple

December 2, 2011 8:16:54 PM PST
Ten years ago Friday, after months of scrutiny, Enron declared bankruptcy and so began the collapse of one of the nation's most prominent companies. With it, 4,000 houstonians lost their jobs; some also lost their entire life savings.

While most associate Enron with negative things like fraud and loss, one Houston couple says it'll always look back fondly at their time with the company because it changed their lives in a good way.

Just the mention of the name Enron makes many Houstonians bristle, and any reminder of it has basically been scrubbed from the city. But for those who worked there and those who had close ties to the company, this anniversary cannot be easily ignored.

As Troy Johnson cradles his 11-week-old Alexis, his 43-year-old wife Laura recalls the journey to get here.

"We were kinda thinking, well it's just not going to happen," she said.

But it never would have happened without Enron. Laura and Troy were both working in the IT department at Enron Energy services when they met. Troy left before the collapse, but Laura was part of the second round of layoffs.

"It was just devastating at the time," she said.

She lost $100,000 worth of stock options and retirement investments but a decade year later still has fond memories.

"They made going to work fun, and it was an exciting place to be at," she said.

Ten years ago, we saw hundreds of shocked employees packing up and heading out.

"It was a very very dark day," Attorney Phillip Hilder said.

Hilder represented Sherron Watkins, now dubbed the Enron whistle blower,

"She was as cool as a cucumber," Hilder said.

He was with her when she testified before Congress.

"Enron is a tale of greed and I think that if there is a lesson to be learned is that greed can corrupt even good people and good ideas," Hilder said.

Enron recruited the best and brightest and was known as the city's shining star. Now it's Houston's biggest corporate scandal taken down by the likes of Ken Lay, Andy Fastow and Jeff Skilling. Many see its downfall as Troy does.

"It was a story of executive management basically setting the company up to fail," Troy said.

Now, the Johnsons have new jobs, and with Alexis in their arms, peace as well.

"There are good things that come from bad situations sometimes, and this is definitely one of them," Troy said.

Enron's old home on Smith Street in downtown Houston is now home Chevron.

Laura Johnson did receive some settlement money but it was just about 10 percent of what she lost. And with the bulk of that, the Johnsons bought a pool table they now call the "Enron pool table."

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