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September 2001
North Carolina Business Hall of Fame

Thirteen years ago Junior Achievement www.jacarolinas.org established the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame to recognize those individuals in North Carolina who have made outstanding contributions to our economic development. Junior Achievement hosts the annual dinner event at which the Business Hall of Fame laureates, selected by the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry (NCCBI) <www.nccbi.org>, are inducted. On November 13, 2001, four outstanding business leaders will be inducted into the North Carolina business Hall of Fame at the Adams Mark Hotel in Charlotte:  C. Felix Harvey, Ed Crutchfield, W. Duke Kimbrell and Dalton L. McMichaell, (posthumously). They join 56 other laureates who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame; the JA exhibit at Discovery Place houses a video on each of them.

 

Felix Harvey:  Taking Risks That Come With Change

      To Felix Harvey, amongst others, he was a hero. A lanky, shy aviator who waved through the ticker-tape filled canyon at the adoring crowds. Lindbergh - he was conqueror of the vast Atlantic Ocean. He was a risk taker and pioneer of a new frontier. It was an experience that would stay with Felix his entire life.

      Seven-year-old Felix Harvey stared at the motorcade in wide-eyed wonder. It was his first trip to New York City that June day in 1927. He and his father had listened together on the radio to progress reports about the great aviation contest - to fly non-stop from America to Paris. Americans had helped to win the Great War, and now had flown the Atlantic. It seemed to Felix that anything was possible.

      But then came the hammer blows. The Great Depression of 1929. The family's patriarch heading up their burgeoning Kingston businesses - Felix's grandfather - died in 1931. And just two years later, in 1933, Felix's own father died at a very early age. Suddenly, 13-year-old Felix was the man of the house.

      The fact that Felix surmounted numerous challenges in the ensuing years is evidenced by his induction scheduled for this November into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame. He shares that honor with three other Tarheel business titans - Charlotte's Ed Crutchfield, former chairman and CEO of First Union; Gastonia's W. Duke Kimbrell, chairman of Parkdale Mills and one of the most influential men in the U.S. textile industry; and Madison's Dalton L. McMichael, former chairman of Mayo Yarns. Today, Felix Harvey is chairman of Harvey Enterprises in Kinston, a collection of diverse businesses in agriculture, banking, farm machinery, liquid gas and fertilizer, trucking and other industries, as well as president of the Global TransPark Foundation.

      As Felix Harvey sees it, American businessmen learned two lessons during the 20th century:  "First, things are never as bad as they seem, but in good times, they are never as good as they seem either. Second, business is always going through revolution; you have to stay at the forefront of sweeping changes. That is the key - taking the risks that come with change, taking advantages of new frontiers."

      These business executives were tinkers, driven to find a better way. Whether in textiles, banking, manufacturing, transportation or agri-business, they were first and foremost entrepreneurs.

      Five hundred of the state's top business executives will gather in Charlotte at the Adams Mark Hotel on Tuesday, November 13, 2001, for the annual black-tie dinner to recognize these four leaders being inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame, sponsored by Junior Achievement and North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry.

      And it's a big year for the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame, which is launching its world wide web site - www.NCHallofFame.org. The Hall also will find a permanent home in downtown Charlotte that will open in the spring of 2002, as part of a new Junior Achievement complex that includes Enterprise City, a new fourth-grade real-life town simulation of businesses, government and community services.

      Junior Achievement in Charlotte established the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 1988. The Hall of Fame recognizes the state's exemplary business leaders. Laureates must have significantly contributed to building their industry and this state's economy, as well as providing outstanding leadership in community and statewide service. Inductees into the Hall of Fame must be retired from their organization or be at least 70 years of age. Brief profiles of three additional winners follow:

 

Ed Crutchfield:  Changing the Model

      When Ed Crutchfield was named president of First Union National Bank of North Carolina in 1973, he became the youngest president of a major bank in the United States. He had joined First Union only eight years earlier, after receiving his undergraduate degree from Davidson College and a Masters in Business Administration from Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania.

      First Union was a one-state bank with a few thousand employees.

      The bank had started as the Union National Bank in 1908 in Charlotte, merging with First National Bank & Trust of Asheville in 1958 to form First Union National Bank. Between 1958 and 1972, the bank acquired 26 other financial institutions.

      By 1984, Crutchfield was named CEO of First Union. By 1985, he added the chairman title and by 1986, The Wall Street Journal had named him the best chief executive of any regional U.S. bank.

      During his tenure, First Union grew from a North Carolina-only bank with $17 billion in assets to the nation's sixth-largest bank-holding company with $253 billion in assets when he retired in 2000. There were 88 acquisitions under Crutchfield's leadership at the bank.

      On June 19, 1995, when First Union acquired First Fidelity, Charlotte passed San Francisco to become the nation's second largest financial center only behind New York City. NationsBank (Bank of America) and First Union expansions had fueled the growth of Charlotte.

      As First Union grew into a national financial services operation in banking, capital markets and other services, Crutchfield's accolades and criticisms waxed and waned. But there is no doubt that he significantly changed the model for banking on both the state, regional and national level.

      "He wanted to build a bank where half the income came from capital markets," Tony Plath of UNCC told reporters on Crutchfield's retirement announcement. "That means that at First Union they are not 85% dependent on spread income from loans for their profits like at most banks. That is his gift to this company, and that is what he will be remembered for."

      In 1999, Crutchfield and First Union received former President Bush's Point of Light Award for its Education First program, which supported employees volunteering in schools to promote educational excellence.

      Crutchfield is also instrumental in numerous civic, educational and charitable activities, such as chairing capital campaigns for Johnson C. Smith University and The Salvation Army.

 

Duke Kimbrell:  Innovating for Improvement

      Running the world's largest spun yarn manufacturer in Parkdale Mills, which is headquartered in Gastonia, W. Duke Kimbrell started as a trainee in the textile business in 1949. In 1961, he became president of a $7 million-a-year, one-mill firm that had started in 1916. During the intervening years, Kimbrell has built Parkdale Mills into a nearly $1 billion-a-year operation with 29 mills.

      "Many American companies have done an excellent job in moving their operations into a stronger technical base," noted Bill King, a textile professor. "If you put the new technology together with certain other factors, you'll find that there are still parts of the textile industry in the U.S. that are among the most competitive in the world." He was talking about Parkdale Mills.

      "We are constantly seeking ways to improve efficiency in the supply and production process," Duke Kimbrell told reporters when his firm explored the electronic cotton marketplace. "They are people who are really willing to make the industry change, to do what it needs to compete," one industry observer said about Parkdale Mills. "They have really invested to stay ahead." In 1997, Textiles International awarded Parkdale its innovation award for its "constant pursuit of improvement."

      Kimbrell has served as president of the American Yarn Spinners Association, and was recognized by Textile World as the second most influential leader in the 20th century for the textile industry. He also played a key role in establishing North Carolina State's College of Textiles. He received the Watauga medal for service to his alma mater, NC State, in 1995 - the highest non-academic award bestowed by the university.

      Kimbrell is known for his support of and service for numerous colleges throughout the state, as well as civic and charitable organizations in Gastonia and the greater Charlotte area. In 1990, he was named the Gaston Gazette's Person of the Year.

 

Dalton L. McMichael: Outstanding Benefactor

      Dalton McMichael Sr. called governors his friends, earned millions of dollars every year, and ate breakfast every morning at Fuzzy's Bar-B-Que. Founder of Macfield Texturing and Mayo Yarns in western Rockingham County, McMichael died just recently at the age of 87.

      Dalton McMichael was born in Wentworth in 1914 as the youngest of seven boys. Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina with a B.S. in commerce in 1938, he began a 50-year career in North Carolina's textile industry as an accountant for Burlington Industries. There he met William Armfield III and, after working together for several years, the two men and Charles Sutherland founded Madison Throwing Co. in 1946 to manufacture textured nylon.

      The senior Armfield died in 1956. His son joined the company in 1959 as a trainee and became vice president of marketing in 1963. In 1970, McMichael sold Madison Throwing to Burlington Industries and started a new company with the younger Armfield, Macfield Texturing, which produced stretch nylon and textured, dyed polyesters.

      Armfield said one of the reasons McMichael wanted to start another company after the 1970 sale was to give former employees at Madison Throwing some equity in a new business. "As a result of the success of Macfield there were many families who created substantial net worth," Armfield said. "He very much enjoyed seeing other people profit."

      In 1991, Macfield had become one of the world's largest and most diversified yarn manufacturers; it was listed as the fourth highest-grossing private company in the state, below only Burlington Industries, Cone Mills Corp. and the Dillard Paper Co. At that time, it merged with Unifi Inc.

      In 1993, Vintage Yarn, another company McMichael had founded in 1982, also merged with Unifi Inc.

      McMichael was chairman of the board at Mayo Yarns in Madison until a year ago, when the company merged with Frontier Spinning Mills of Sanford. Frontier Spinning's two Madison mills continue to operate; McMichael's son, Dalton Jr., is owner of McMichael Mills, which is still in operation.

      McMichael  was known as a prolific philanthropist. In 1996, he donated $3 million to Elon College, now Elon University. Through the years, McMichael also supported the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with various grants and professorships and had served on the University's Board of Trustees.  He also contributed to Guilford College.

      Former governor Jim Hunt once called McMichael one of the 10 greatest industrialists in the state's history.

 

The Business (R)evolution

It's easy to have gotten caught up in the hype for the "new economy" over the past several years, especially as we started a new millennium. But the lesson of the past century has always been one of taking risks, and pioneering new business frontiers - just like the so-called new economy. But those executives successfully navigating the constantly changing business environment have been and will be recognized in The North Carolina Business Hall of Fame. It is their personal stories of taking risks and facing constant change to their firms, their industry and their state.

      There's a common theme to these business successes. As Duke Kimbrell observed: "I've changed and changed and changed."

      For information on reserving a table or becoming a sponsor, contact Junior Achievement at (704) 536-9668 or by writing to: Junior Achievement, NCBHOF, 4632 Holbrook Drive, Charlotte, NC 28212-5392.

 

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