Occupation: CEO, Marine Accessories Corporation
Town of Residence: Maryville, Tenn.
Graduation Year: 1974
Why did you decide to attend ENC?
I was what you’d refer to as a townie. I grew up in Quincy, attended Quincy public schools, and graduated from Quincy High School. After high school, I spent nearly three years in the military during the Viet Nam era. After I was discharged, I looked into going to college. I had played basketball in high school, so I was looking to play basketball in college. I came back to Quincy and good friends of mine introduced me to ENC. I didn’t have a Nazarene background; I grew up in the Congregational Church in Quincy. But as soon as I visited the campus and met the people, I felt like it was a place where I belonged. Coming from the outside, the transition was very easy.
How has ENC prepared you for your path in life?
I think fundamentally of the spirit of ENC. It really taught me to appreciate and to love people for who they are. The people who I met there, the friendships I developed there, became a lifelong influence on me. I remember Dr. Edward Mann, [President from 1948 to 1970]. He was the kind of man that as soon as you met him, you had total respect for who he was and what he stood for. I felt he really cared about me as a kid who was out of the army and going to a Christian college, and he made it feel very comfortable and was very encouraging. It was a different culture for me, but it was comfortable, and I assimilated and fit in quickly. I gained a great respect for what ENC stood for, the foundation that it provided me as a 20-year-old kid trying to figure out life. The foundation that you get at a place like ENC is impactful on people’s lives and helps direct your life, including your career path.
While at ENC, I majored in Psychology. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, how I was going to use that. My career started by working in the army again as a drug and alcohol abuse and family counselor. At the time, I got married and started a family, and I started to feel a pull that maybe there was something else out there for me. I migrated into business and worked for a Fortune 500 company and navigated my way around in the business, gaining broad experience with sales, marketing, and product development, and then working my way up into general management. I’ve been in the marine industry for 43 years now. The abilities that I had having a degree in psychology are all about people, trying to understand people and what motivates people. I think the one difference that ENC brings to all of us is that solid foundation based in faith and based in Christ. It comes through in the world. People you encounter sense, see, and understand that there’s something a little bit different about this guy or this gal, and I think that when you look back, it’s that foundation that helped me be successful in the career that I’ve chosen.
One thing that keeps coming back to me is that the Lord is always faithful, the Lord is always there for us. Sometimes we don’t always deliver, but He’s always there. He’s been a guiding force, whether I’ve recognized it all the time or not, He’s been there guiding me all along.
How have you felt the Lord’s guiding presence in your life?
I’ve been in my current job for 17 years. Before I took this job, I really leaned on the Lord to give me guidance. Was this the right career move? I was starting to get a little bit later in my career. To make a change like that from a rather stable position to running a business, I really asked the Lord for guidance. Some things happened relative to the opportunity and how the whole thing came together that made it pretty clear that this was the direction He wanted to take me. I think one of the reasons was that I was able to work with a really diverse group of people. I hope that the people that I built this business with can see and feel a difference in the way that I approach things, the way I respect them.
About three years ago, I bought a place in Florida and reconnected with a couple of my basketball buddies from ENC. They introduced me and my family to the church they’re active in here called Bayside Community Church. Once again, it’s the Lord directing and setting things in place. People ask me, “What are you going to do when you retire? You’ve worked your entire life.” There’s all kinds of work. There’s the Lord’s work through the church. I look forward to the time when I can spend more time on His work through the church I’m involved in.
Has anyone else from ENC made a significant impact on your life?
Dick Pritchard (‘67) worked in Alumni Relations when I was a student at ENC. His mission while I was at ENC was to shepherd me and introduce me to the Lord. I have respect for him and can’t thank him enough for the influence that he had on me during my time at ENC. I still see him every once in a while. Also, the guys I played basketball with there. They came from all different kinds of backgrounds, but we bonded, and those bonds have lasted to this day. You have lifelong friends, you have lifelong memories. These people helped me to grow. Even to this day, I continue to grow with these friends from back in the early ’70s.
How did playing on the basketball team impact you?
I played for four years. One of the things that it does is you really develop as a team and you carry that over into life. I’ve always approached business organizations from a team perspective. Knowing what it means to be a team member, knowing what your roles are, knowing when and what to contribute – and sharing in the success with everyone, not just one individual or one superstar. We had that at ENC as part of the basketball team. Carrying yourself as a winner through life, whether that’s a winner in your business or a winner for Christ, be a winner in whatever you decide to do.
Any other messages you want to relay to your fellow alumni?
We’ve all had a unique experience that not everybody has. I think the education and culture of a Christian college and what that means and what it can mean to helping individuals grow into successful people is invaluable. I can’t say enough about what it meant to me and how it’s shaped my life, how in today’s world it’s more important that young people have an experience and a foundation like what ENC provides for going out in the world and changing the world and saving the world for Christ.
This article originally appeared in The Christian Scholar.