Bringing North Carolina's business leaders together
Here, Phillips describes how he tried to create a network of North Carolina's business leaders. He was astounded to learn that before a meeting he set up, many business leaders were not acquainted with one another. His effort to create a business community was part of Governor Jim Martin's regional approach.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with S. Davis (Dave) Phillips, January 27, 1999. Interview I-0084. 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.
Full Text of the Excerpt
JM: Let me take a different sort of question. Thinking back across your span working in business in North Carolina, '60s forward, can you talk about the way you became integrated into networks and can you describe the networks of business leaders both within furniture probably initially I suppose and then more widely? Can you describe that network that prevails both formal and informal?
DP: Well the one thing that I was very surprised to learn was when we first got the major CEOs of the Triad together for the first luncheon. We were trying to create a regional approach--.
JM: This is during your tenure in Raleigh.
DP: No, this is prior to that. This is when I was involved in, the head of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, prior to that, what we called the Piedmont Triad Development Corporation. Tom Hearn, President of Wake Forest, represented Winston; Jim Melvin ex-mayor of Greensboro, represented Greensboro; and I represented High Point. I had been involved because I was head of the Chamber of Commerce and head of the High Point Economic Development Corporation and things like that. First meeting we put together, we hired, not hired, we invited the five biggest CEOs from each city. Found out that the head RJ Reynolds had never met the head of Jefferson Pilot. We were dumbfounded. You would think that these networks do exist, that people just come across them in their lives. But they don't. We found that in these regions, and we found that in North Carolina. I mean, there is an organization where people, it's kind of a glorified Chamber of Commerce, it's nice and it's helpful, but it isn't the answer. So networking in North Carolina is very important. It just means simply getting to know each other so that we are all kind of working together. But we found out that it wasn't working in these regions. Having set up the regional approach, we staffed it half private business, half governmental officials, head of the Chamber, the mayor or the city manager but put CEOs at the same table. That's how you kind of work everything out. Instead of being in conflict, you're partners. That's the whole concept for the first time of this regional approach in North Carolina.