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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Jordan did not show favoritism and respected his colleagues' opinions

Everett Jordan was so good at relating to other people that he did not play favorites in his business or his political endeavors. He treated his employees as well as he treated his mill supervisors, and he sometimes cast votes against his business interests. His respect for others showed in how he accepted his son-in-law's disagreement with some of Jordan's decisions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Having control of the manufacturing as well as the selling he could translate the customers needs into manufacturing requirements and conversely he could help the customer understand the limitations as far as manufacturing went and work out a compromise plan. So he was a superior salesman; the customers had great confidence in him and the fact that he owned the business made them understand that if he made a commitment to them it would be fulfilled. So while he had sales agents that made routine calls on his accounts, any of the principal accounts he saw several times a year and several of them he counted among his very close personal friends. They would take trips together or see each other on a personal and social basis maybe more often than they did on a business basis. There was a genuine friendship; it wasn't one that was there only because of business. He just liked them and they liked him and they got along well together.
BEN BULLA:
Is that normal among businessmen in general?
ROGER GANT:
I think it was normal but I think it was true with Everett to a larger degree, I think Everett just liked people; his father liked people, or else he would never have been a Methodist preacher; and Everett inherited that and Everett never met anybody that stayed a stranger very long. He just liked them for what they were whether they were business related or not. He just liked all kinds of people;understood them, and understood that they were all human and had their frailties and he never belittled anybody because of any frailties they might have. He was very big;generous and understanding of the way people were put together and the way they acted and what they needed. He had very close associations with people of all levels in his mill; he didn't value the friendship of the mill superintendent any higher than he did the floor sweeper. Went to church with all of them; in Sunday School class with them. He was not impressed by class or clothes or material ownership of the people he knew. As far as I could tell he equated them all which, I think, is unusual. As his representing them in the Senate goes that was certainly true. The person with the lowest ranks of society had just as much influence with him as the business person had, the business owner had. And I think he judged issues on the merits and in a way there was much less bias then most business owners could have done. Most business owners think of issues in so far as they concern to business; I certainly do; and I'd be constantly amazed at Everett judging an issue on a completely different basis. He might judge one in a manner that might be anti-business, but he would justify it by saying that it was just the right thing to do or it wouldn't be fair to these people to do it otherwise.
BEN BULLA:
Can you give me an example?
ROGER GANT:
I'm trying to think of one. Whose that ex-boxer with the beard that use to worry him all the time; I did not always agree with his evaluation of issues in the general assembly or the congress. I'm having difficulty thinking of any specific one.
BEN BULLA:
When you disagreed, what happened?
ROGER GANT:
Well he respected my right to disagree with him and I didn't respect his as much as he did mine. I couldn't see sometime how he would be on the side of an issue that would adversely affect business. I'm too far to the right I guess. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ROGER GANT:
Yes, I'm further to the right than he was. I feel that business is the backbone of the country; backbone of the success of this country and everything should be done that can be to encourage its support;the business community, especially the businesses that create wealth. I think the more wealth the country has the more wealth can be distributed amont the population and therefore the greatest chance of the highest standard of living for everybody. Those business that create wealth in manufacturing is the principal creator of wealth. You take a hunk of dirt and make steel out of it and that creates a useful product; or you take a hunk of cotton and spin yarn and make a garment out of the fabric woven from the yarn and that creates an item that improves the standard of living for somebody, and therefore creates wealth. The service businesses don't really do that by the terms of reference I'm trying to illustrate and poorly. They are swapping the money around and of course you can say that a restaurant does create or improve the standard of living because it feeds somebody, or feeds them better than it would otherwise. I'm not going to argue that point. But getting back to my main point; anything that improves the climate for those businesses which create wealth should be encouraged, and that sometimes results temporarily in not directly improving the wage level for instance. If the minimum wage level is raised then in theory the wage earner takes more money home and improves the standard of living. But the other side of that coin is that if you raise the level of wages to where they are not competetive, well the cost of producing the product or service become non-competitive with the alternative method of producing that product or service and somebody loses a job. And I've sometimes felt that Everett was not looking at the big picture, that he was looking at short term cures for the symptoms rather than the long term cures for the diseases.