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You are here: Davis of Iowa > Jim Davis's Biography > Part X                    Click HERE to go to Part XI

Part X



My HRD Years



Launching HRD as a public company –


The 1990s was to be a significant decade in our lives.  I began a new job as CEO of a company which we successfully launched as a public company via an Initial Public Offering (IPO), was fired from it some three years later, engaged in various consulting gigs for a couple of years and signed on with my largest employment assignment for the final five years.  All of this resulted in three residential relocations. 


Our Davis family summer reunion was again held at The Sportsman Resort at  the Lake of the Ozarks in the summer of 1990.  Dad’s friendship with Velda Dunn, the widow of our next door farm neighbor when we were growing up on the farm, blossomed into wonderful relationship. This continued the close relationship that both mom and dad had with Velda when mom was living.  Velda and dad traveled together and socialized jointly with friends, family and neighbors. The family gathered in Iowa for our Iowa Davis family Christmas, although it was not the same with mom gone.  The “girls”, with Velda’s help, prepared the usual Christmas feasts and the Hartland Church Christmas program was its usual annual attraction.  Our grandsons joined in singing Christmas Carols - even our Jewish grandsons.  Velda continued to be a valued family member after dad died in 1996.  Velda was stricken with dementia/Alzheimers and was confined to memory care in her later years.  See died November 7, 2012.


My assignment as President of Horsehead Resources Development Company (HRD) resulted in a relocation from our Connecticut home to eastern Pennsylvania, ultimately, to Lake Harmony, PA a small town 25 miles north of Palmerton.   I chose to office in Palmerton, in HRD’s office which was close to its major plant and most of its employees.  I did not want to office in the NYC HI office and to spend considerable time commuting.  I reported to David Carpenter on all aspects of my job, however, Bill Flaherty directed the IPO planning and implementation.  David was in the process of relocating from a home he had built in Palmerton to a lovely small estate in Connecticut located on the shore of Long Island Sound.


Our second custom home building experience and our ninth home (and thirteenth  residence) for Karen and me -


Karen worked with a local realtor to find our next home.  In the end she wanted to purchase a building lot in a small resort named Split Rock in the really small village of Lake Harmony – basically a post office and a general store.  It was on the shore of a beautiful small fresh water lake of about one fifth of a square mile in size. 


Split Rock Resort was an old resort which catered to business men and their families, basically from New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.  In the summers these families would live in their second homes or rentals in Split Rock to enjoy the cooler climate of this rural,  wooded, 1500 feet of elevation, eighteen hole golf course community which had some 100 second homes/cabins.  The business men would commute from and to their offices on the weekends to join their families in Lake Harmony.  A new area in the resort was opened with building lots for personal homes.  Karen found a lot that she liked and envisioned building a home somewhat similar to what we had built in Kentucky in 1970.  The realtor Karen worked with referred us to a builder with whom she was familiar. Karen drove me to the lot the evening after she first saw it.  I thought that the lot had real possibilities and it was reasonably priced.  The utilities were already in place and the wooded one acre lot needed little preparation for construction of a house.


We met with the builder and discussed  designing and  building  a three story, four bedroom plus office,  full finished basement recreation room and a three car garage house on this lot.  We worked with the builder and his draftsman to design the house we wanted.  We reached preliminary agreement on the design, estimated cost and timing prior to purchasing the lot.  The construction industry in  Pennsylvania was slow at that time and the conventional framed, wooden-sided house was finished in June 1991.  We had invested about $500,000 in the house and lot. We sold the Connecticut home quickly and moved to Lake Harmony. I had been commuting almost a year to/from Stamford and Palmerton.   The Davis family summer reunion was again held at the Sportsman Resort in 1991.  The highlight of that reunion, was para-sailing in which Kindra, Velda and Dad all participated.    The three of them were particularly thrilled with the experience, especially Kindra who was a paraplegic since her accident some thirty-one years previous.


The Lake Harmony house was  a wonderful house with a combined kitchen, casual dining and great room, a library, a formal dining room, a laundry room and a master bedroom suite on the main level. The great room, the casual dining area and part of the kitchen had an eighteen feet high ceiling. Contiguous with the master bedroom and the casual dining area was a “swim spa room” which contained a fiberglass pool, some 16 feet long, 8 feet wide and three feet deep, in which powerful jets pumped water to form a water current against which one swims without physically changing position in the pool.  This entire room was finished in cedar and it totally with stood our six very active grandsons simultaneously playing/splashing in the  pool. Outside the swim spa and casual dining was a very large cedar deck of about 2000 square feet. The laundry room connected the living space to a three car garage.  The second level  had a wonderful office with a small outdoor deck, two bedrooms and a sitting area on a balcony overlooking the great room.  It also had a large unfinished storage area over the garage accessed through one of the bedrooms.  (On one of my site visits during construction, I saw this open unfinished space above the garage and asked the builder to place plywood on top of the garage ceiling trusses and to provide an access door from the contiguous bedroom on the second floor.  This provided us great storage for seasonal items and other “stuff”, which someone told me meant “some things under feet forever”! This was our attic! The lower walk-out level had a very large recreation room with a bar, a huge stone fireplace - that  incorporated the great room fireplace directly above it and in total was some thirty feet tall, including the chimney-, another bedroom as well as a bunk room (a large bedroom with three bunkbeds) to sleep our six grandsons, a three-quarter bath and a large utility/mechanical room.


The Great Room from the Balcony The Great Room and Kitchen


The house  was located on a three-quarter acre wooded lot which bordered on the fifth hole of the golf course and was on the cul-de-sac at the end of a short street. There were two other houses on the street, one belonged to a full-time resident and one to a weekend resident as well as two other than empty building lots.  We were able to landscape the house with about a dozen pine trees which eventually grew to twenty feet in height.  I installed a twenty feet flag pole in the front of the house and Karen purchased a hand carved bear standing upright to guard the front door of the house.  The local deer population was large and they frequently came past our house looking for handouts.  We did not feed the deer but they continued looking or handouts.  We placed two large bird feeders above the railing on the outdoor deck, which the squirrels soon found and enjoyed raiding.  One evening when I was not home, Karen was reading in the great room a bit before it was totally dark outside.  Karen had the door opened onto the deck with only the screen door closed.  She looked up and there was a black bear on our deck moving toward the bird feeders.  The bear  climbed upon the built-in-seat on the railing and proceed to knock the bird feeders down so he could eat the seed.  I repaired the feeders and we  never experienced  another incident  with the bears at our house, however there were frequent community bear sightings.


On another occasion, one of our Lake Harmony acquaintances who were in Split Rock only on weekends invited us over to see the bears that frequented their back yard, which was fairly heavily wooded.  They had mounted spot lights on the roof of their house to illuminate the area in their property where the bears visited.  To further attract the bears this couple, against all wild game rules fed the bears.  The housewife would even bake berry pies for the bears.  Fortunately, the occupants stayed inside the house to observe the bears. To the best of my knowledge, they were never attacked by the bears and never did I hear of the wildlife game wardens visiting them to address this bad behavior.


Karen’s Irish Pub Ladies Bar The Grandson’s Bunk Room
The Library The Family Kitchen
The House from the Golf Course The Swim Spa



The house proved to be a great hit with our growing family. Each daughter’s family lived  a short days  drive from Lake Harmony.  They particularly enjoyed the swim spa and driving the golf cart which we had purchased to “putter around” the resort.  The outside maintenance was minimal, no grass, some mulch spreading in the spring, wood cutting in the summer for the two very large fireplaces, plus leaf raking and roof gutter cleaning in the autumn.  Also of  course, some significant snow blowing/shoveling in the winter. We installed many strings of Christmas lights on the roof each year.  We truly enjoyed the house for twelve years as it was a wonderful home for casual living, family gatherings and entertaining.


In 1973 cell phones were invented by Motorola, however it took a decade to build out the beginnings of an infrastructure  - primarily cell phone towers and software to improve the phones and the communications - to support cell phones outside the cities.  In 1990 I acquired my first cell phone primarily because I was frequently commuting to and from NYC and  Palmerton.  I sometimes road a bus from the Lake Harmony bus terminal to the NYC bus  terminal on 34th Street.  I could use the cell phone on portions of that drive.  My first cell phone was a clunky AT&T model.  and I used AT&T service.  The service in Palmerton was terrible, the service in New Jersey was hit or miss but the service in NYC was quite satisfactory.  One of the problems in those days was dropped calls when you left the service of one cell tower and picked up service from a different tower.


At HRD, I focused on preparing HRD for an IPO.  Horsehead Industries hired Robert (Bob) Hoguet as our HRD CFO at the time I was appointed President and CEO of HRD.  Bob was a NYC resident experienced in corporate finance, whose wife was a partner in a NYC based litigation law firm.  Bob did not relocate to Palmerton.  He commuted to spend several days a week in the Palmerton office. HRD received the nearly full-time services of an experienced HI environmental attorney who was located in the Palmerton office.  He was quite familiar with the history of the Palmerton site, which had been declared a U.S. Superfund site a number of years previously.  The contamination from zinc smelting throughout the years resulted in two thousand acres of the nearby mountain sides being contaminated with lead and cadmium particles and the sulfur from the smelting operation had destroyed all of the vegetation as well. This was a major issue with the U.S. EPA and the PA Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  At this time the Palmerton site was exclusively an HRD facility, processing the hazardous waste electric arc furnace (EAF) steel making dust and recovering valuable zinc metal as zinc oxide.  


The HRD business -


The receiving and processing of the EAF dust, was a very dusty operation as the fine dust was  difficult to contain.  It was a challenge to control the dust from escaping from all parts of the operation, the dust receiving, the dust conveying and the kilns.  Controlling this dust containing lead and cadmium was a continuing challenge for the plant operations. All of the processes were permitted by the EPA/DNR thereby requiring periodic inspections and permit renewals.  There were frequent complaints by the residents of Palmerton and nearby communities. We were in almost weekly communication with the PA DNR and occasionally with the U.S. EPA.


The EAF operating steel companies were charged about $100  per  ton of EAF dust disposed  in a hazardous waste landfills in addition to the transportation cost to the landfill. Occasionally, the transportation charge was equal to the landfill fee.  Horsehead Resource Development  charged a processing fee less than the hazardous waste landfills charged, consequently, with the large number of electric arc steel making facilities in the surrounding geographic area it was difficult for HRD to process the amount of dust our customers wanted HRD to process despite the plant operating 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  We were hard pressed to expand our capacity, despite activating a third kiln for the primary processing operation.


Processing this dust was a two step operation.  The EAF dust was introduced into the into the elevated end of an approximately eighty feet long, six feet in diameter, horizontally - inclined at about ten degrees -rotary kiln which heated the dust to the temperature at which the zinc, cadmium and lead all vaporized.  These vaporized particles immediately became oxidized in the kiln.  The exhaust air from the kiln containing these oxide particles was swept into a dust collector in which the zinc oxide concentrate with the contaminant cadmium and lead oxides were captured for further processing.    The residual material discharging from the lower end of the kiln in this step of  processing was basically inert calcium, silicon, iron and other metallic components.  This residual material was non-hazardous and was used as road base and fill material.


The “fumed” metal oxides, which  was a fine dust, was refined in second rotary gas fired kiln similar to the initial processing kiln in which the temperature was closely controlled to vaporize the cadmium and lead oxides which vaporize at about 1200 and 1500 degrees Celsius respectfully leaving the zinc oxide which sublimates at 1800 degrees Celsius.  The zinc oxide concentrate was then sold to HRD’s sister company Zinc Corporation of America (ZCA) which refined it into commercial zinc oxide, an important component in white paints and sunscreen lotions,  an additive in vehicular rubber tires and a myriad of other commercial uses.  The ZCA  plant to which we shipped the raw zinc oxide concentrate was in Monaca, PA near Pittsburgh.  The combined lead and cadmium oxides was further processed into commercial grade lead oxide and cadmium oxide at a sister plant of ZCA.


Horsehead Resources Development had a  minimal administrative staff, as HI had previously provided these administrative support requirements.  In preparation for the IPO, HRD needed to be fully staffed to handle the various administrative responsibilities.  We had an experienced manufacturing manager, Bill Smelas, who was a long time HI employee and  knew the Palmerton Plant, the employees and the processing technology. In addition, we had a plant accountant and plant personnel manager in place.   It was our responsibility to strengthen the HRD staff in preparation for the IPO.  At the time HRD particularly needed increased human resources expertise.


I had remained in contact with Gene Krause (my ADM recruiter who convinced me to join ADM in 1965). His family and mine continued to be in reasonably close contact even after  he departed Ashland Oil in 1969.  Gene and his wife had retired to Sarasota, FL.  I hired Gene as a consultant to HRD to help us build our human resource and administrative staffing and to provide me with advice on preparing HRD for the IPO.  With Gene’s help we hired a fulltime attorney to work with HRD, supplementing the legal help we received from HI as well as to be our human resource manager.  Gene worked with us for about six months and provided valuable help and advice to our embryonic company.  Our labor relations were generally good with little involvement from the national Steelworkers Union. 


In the middle of January 1991, before Karen and my house was finished, Gene and I were staying in a neat old hotel in Jim Thorpe, PA (about fifteen miles from Palmerton). We had a late dinner sitting at the hotel’s bar when the U.S. answered Iraq’s attempt to take over their neighbor, the oil rich country of Kuwait.  The ariel bombardment of Bagdad was broadcast live on CNN by their Bagdad reporter located in a Bagdad hotel room.  I think that it was the first time I heard the term “Shock and Awe” when referring to military action, but I can’t confirm it.  Regardless, it was quite impressive TV coverage.




Bill Flaherty, established the timeframe and selected the investment advisor which would take HRD public.  He directed HI’s outside corporate lawyer to work with us to prepare the IPO documents. Bob Hoguet was our primarily contact with the outside IPO team. I knew that I would be making the presentations to various investment firms in the IPO road trip and stayed close to this work.  Bill Flaherty decided that only 20% of an expected $100  million dollar valuation would be offered to the public at this time.  Environmental firms were enjoying relatively high valuations,  i.e., stock price to earnings per share multiples, at this time.   The balance of the ownership and control would still be in the hands of HI’s owners for later sale at hoped-for even higher price.


The road trip and IPO were a success with presentations made in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco.   The initial valuation was indeed $100 million and the offered shares were fully subscribed by various investment firms.  The management and ownership of HI were very happy. My personal disappointment was that although we HRD executives were given an opportunity to purchase stock at the offering price, we were granted no HRD stock options prior to the IPO.  Nor were any granted at the end of the first year anniversary of the IPO.  Of  course, I was still very happy with the bonus upon the completion of the Pony Industries final liquidation.  As it turned out the Chemlink Group stock was worthless, as Chemlink was not successful as an operating company.


After the IPO, I continued making presentations about HRD to security analysts, particularly at environmental conferences.  Bill Flaherty was very happy with my presentations and complimented me several times for my presentations. 


Cindie and Kim’s families again joined us as we celebrated our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays  in our new Lake Harmony home.  Cindie was expecting our sixth grandchild in February.  We decorated the house to the “tees”, with a twelve feet tall Christmas Tree in the great room and an eight feet tall Christmas Tree in the recreation room.  We had Christmas lights hanging from the eves of the roof, a large wreath of the front door, garland strung around the upstairs balcony overlooking the great room.  The five grandsons loved the bunkroom which Karen had the beds made with Walt Disney bed sheets, pillow cases and blankets.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There was plenty of snow at Christmas time and the grandsons enjoyed building snow men on our deck.


Brian was a very proud Eagle Scout and his three (soon to be four with the birth of Adam in 1992) sons were each introduced into scouting at their first opportunity.  Brian served as an assistant scout leader for a number of years.  Additionally, Cindie insured that “the boys” were provided opportunities for any sporting activity in which they might be interested.  All of them participated in Tai Kwon Do and earned various relatively high level belts. All of them played league soccer in which both Kevin and Adam excelled. Brad was attracted to Rugby and enjoyed the rough and tumble sport.  None of the boys participated in school athletics, except for Andrew who led the high school pole vaulting for a couple of years.  Brian accompanied each of his sons on a week-long scouting outing as a culmination of each boy’s scouting adventure.  Brad, Kevin and Adam all went with Brian in separate years  to a Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico, (Philmont) for a hiking and camping experience none of them would forget. Andrew and Brian went to Key West,  FL for an ocean experience. 


Adam Scott Holub is born -


As we were very busy in making the IPO preparations, our family increased by one more grandson, Adam Scott Holub, was born on February 9, 1992 – 2992 for ease of memory.  Cindie and Adam were doing well and like Cindie’s previous deliveries, she and Adam were home from the hospital in almost record time.  Karen and I drove to Westford, MA to meet Adam and to visit Cindie’s family on several different weekends that spring.


Karen and I hosted our Davis family summer reunion in July at our Lake Harmony home.  We were able to accommodate everyone who attended, which was the majority of the family although some slept on the floor.  Dad and Velda were able to join us, as was Dick and Judy’s daughter-in-law, Bonnie, who drove to Lake Harmony from Roanoke,  VA.  Bonnie’s husband Richard, an U.S. Navy officer, having been commissioned upon graduation from VPI/Virginia Tech, was deployed at  the time. The weather was cooperative and all of us enjoyed a float trip of about 12 miles down the Lehigh River.  At home, we put our spacious deck to good use cooking and eating outside. The younger generation thoroughly enjoyed the swim spa.  It was a very enjoyable reunion, although it was a somewhat difficult for those traveling to Lake Harmony from Iowa and other places some distance away.


On August 22, 1992 Karen’s younger niece Lynn Swanson married an English professor, David Fite who once taught Lynn in an undergraduate class.  Lynn asked me to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, which I joyously accepted.  It was a wonderful wedding to which Karen, I, Cindie, Brian, Kim and David all attended.  Lynn who has suffered with Cystic Fibrosus from birth, continued to do well outliving most of her contemporary Cystic Fibrosis sufferers. In 1998, Lynn had a double lung transplant as her lungs had become almost totally incapable of providing her small body its needed oxygen.  In early 2023, Lynn  celebrate her 64rd birthday, quite a remarkable achievement. 


Karen continued her habits of smoking and alcohol consumption, although she had switched to bourbon and then to vodka, instead of wine and began drinking in excess.  She did little physical work and had added some weight.  She began a diet which was limited to food, but little or no diminishment in the alcohol consumption and lost some twenty pounds as a result.  However, she continued to be concerned about the size of her thighs and legs in general – an inherited feature - and resorted to a lipo-suction treatment on her legs.  The operation was successful; however, it left her legs appearing thin and to her, unsightly.  This added to her mental concern over her unhealthy habits and physical condition.


I traveled to Japan and to Poland with Dave Carpenter on two different trips to explore the possibility of establishing joint venture operations to process electric arc furnace dust with local metals companies.  While neither effort resulted in any venture, the trip to Poland was eerily similar to my trip to East Berlin in 1985.  The plants and other facilities we visited in Poland were severely antiquated, very labor intensive, energy inefficient and major polluters.  These operations were so inferior to the competing plants in modernized Europe and the U.S. it was almost unbelievable.


At HRD we made progress in satisfying the neighbors and environmental agencies with our dust control measures and gradually increased the plant’s capacity.  We were meeting our financial target objectives.  An experimental remediation effort to re-vegetate the nearby baron mountains was undertaken in conjunction with the PA DNR.  This effort involved the use of metropolitan sewage sludge in which the seeds or seedlings of various indigenous area plants were incorporated.  This mixture was then spread over the baron soil using a wagon equipped spreader mechanism which was towed by a tracked power source.  The ingenious approach was supported by both the state and U.S. EPA as a way of recovering at  least some of the  original landscape which had  been denuded for some 90 years.  The experiment which was funded by HI as part of the Superfund remediation effort was successful as native plant vegetation began to appear on the nearby mountain where we had revegetated it.  We planned to commercialize this service and to market it to industrial companies who had similar vegetation denuded areas.


I prepared monthly letters to HI management on HRD’s operations and progress toward our financial and operational objectives.  Bob Hoguet coordinated the release of public information about HRD’s operations in satisfaction of the various  disclosure requirements of a public company.  We had monthly meetings with the HI board of directors to report on HRD’s progress.  Being a private company,  HI had no public reporting requirements.


That autumn, Karen and I traveled to Kenya and Tanzania for wild game tours.  She found a trip organized by Abercrombie and Kent which included ten days in country.  As it turned out there were only 13 persons on the tour, so we traveled in a caravan of five Toyota Land Cruisers rigged for game watching with places to stand and look out over the top of the vehicle.  We  saw the “big five” wild animals of Africa which are the lion, elephant, leopard, cape buffalo and the rhino, several times.  When we were in these vehicles we were able to almost mingle with herds of elephants, to move very close to prides of lions sleeping in the shade  and to ride along parallel to running leopards. We were able to get reasonably close to the Cape Buffalo however we were never able to get close to the rhinos – probably at least a quarter of a mile away.  I took some 30 rolls of 35 mm pictures, primarily of the wild animals.  However, my photographic skills were abysmal and the photos were not  decent quality.  Abercrombie and Kent did a wonderful job of scheduling the tour and the guides were excellent.


The U.S. domestic economy was struggling a bit as the 1992 U.S. Presidential election was underway. George Bush was running for re-election.  Bill Clinton, the ex-governor of Arkansas was the Democratic nominee.  Clinton was a charismatic, young Democrat who postured himself much in the mold of John F. Kennedy.  The economy was a major election issue and Clinton grabbed the headlines and the votes with the slogan “It is the economy, stupid”.  Clinton won the election.


Christmas 1992, we again celebrated at our Lake Harmony home.  Both Cindie and Kim’s families were able to join us for several days.  


The year 1993 brought some unanticipated changes as things  progressed satisfactorily at HRD to the best of my knowledge.  However, in September as related later in this chapter, I learned that I was being given another challenge.  Otherwise, our family was doing well, our six grandsons were all doing well in school and both sons-in-law were doing very well in their respective careers. Karen and I were thoroughly enjoying our Lake Harmony home and playing some golf at the Split Rock Country Club.  We had become fast friends with Don and Pat Todd, who also lived full-time at Split Rock and cared for about 20 homes/cabins in the development for the unit’s absentee owners.  They were true friends but unfortunately Don had dementia and died in 2022.  Pat has moved into a independent living retirement community.


HRD continued to do well, utilizing the Palmerton facility to its full capacity, completing capital expenditure investments to both control environmental issues and to maximize the plant’s processing capacity.  Dan Brendon the young attorney we hired made great progress in managing the human resource and other non-financial administrative operations that we promoted him to Vice President of HRD.  He was preparing for labor negotiations as our existing agreement was expiring later in the year.  Dan was given an employment contract similar to Bob Hoguet’s and mine.  The only difference was in salary and the length of the severance period.  Bob and Dan’s contract provided for one year upon termination, if not for cause, while mine provided for two years.


I traveled about twenty percent of the business time, not counting the almost biweekly trips to the HI’s NYC office.  Primarily my travels took me to the Monaca offices of ZCA, to our major EAF dust suppliers and to Environmental Conferences.  This was a nice change from being away from home much of the time the prior four years. 


Colin McLemore graduated from Washington State University (WSU) in June.  Dad and Bob traveled to Washington State to attend Colin’s graduation.  Janie remembers dad had lost some weight however he jokingly told her that he was trying to keep in shape. 


The Davis family summer reunion was held in Breckenridge, CO this summer.  We rented a number of adjacent rooms in an apartment building and enjoyed visiting this beautiful area, getting reacquainted with our growing family, Cindie and Kim had eleven first cousins on the Davis family side and there were already fourteen in the next (our grandson’s) generation.  When we were all together it was a big group.  One of the really fun side trips at this reunion was a white water rafting trip on the head waters of the Arkansas River.  It was genuine white water.  We had about a dozen of my generation and a few of the older ones from the next generation.  I was riding in the front of one raft when we hit some particularly rough water.  The front of the raft drop abruptly  and I  found myself in some very cold water.  Fortunately, I had grasped a rope secured to the raft as I let the raft and was able to pull myself back into the raft fairly quickly.  I was the only one of our party who fell out on the  rafting trip.  The Breckenridge venue for our reunion was not what we wanted so the hunt was again on for a venue which would better accommodate us, essentially one where we could prepare our own meals and eat as a group, in addition to having a variety of activities for all ages.  We were pretty much finished with the Lake of The Ozarks, as the central U.S. location was no longer a significant factor, since our family was spread throughout the U.S.


I was fired by the ownership of HRD -


In September, I traveled to NYC to meet with David Carpenter at his request.   When I arrived, he asked  me to  come with him to Bill Flaherty’s office where the three of us met.  Bill took over the meeting telling me that “they wanted to make a change in leadership” at HRD and that Bill Quirk who had no management experience would be replacing me as President of HRD immediately.  I was shocked and not prepared for this change  with no warning what so ever.   I had not a hint of any problem, any displeasure with my leadership or other reason for my being replaced.  I asked Flaherty “may I ask why?”  To which David Carpenter then said “you work too hard and we think that it might be time for you to take it a bit easier, even retire”.  I commented to both of them, in as calm and respectful voice as I could muster, that I respected their right to make this decision, but I thought that I should be given a better reason for the decision than that.  Flaherty just reiterated that they (meaning I am sure, “he”) made this decision.  I thanked them for the opportunities that they had given me and asked about the compensation plan had been widely discussed with the two others and me.  Flaherty responded that it was never approved.  I then prepared to leave and said that while they thought that it was time for me to retire, that I would make that decision and that I thought I had a capability in which other companies might be interested.  As I left Flaherty’s office he directed me to contact Bill Flatley the HI CFO by phone the next day to coordinate my severance arrangements.  I left the meeting in a bit of a daze and drove the two and one-half hours to Palmerton, arriving after work hours so the HRD office was deserted.  I cleaned out all of my personal belongings from my office, including the African pictures which I had proudly hung in my office (I never displayed my diplomas, certificates or photos of me with celebrities in my office.)


I then went home and shared the news with Karen.  She, like I was very surprised and a bit concerned about what we do now.  My response was that I would begin contacting executive search firms immediately as  well as well-placed friends, colleagues and my HBS class-mates, to spread the word that I was in the job market.  I was not “depressed” but I was “deflated”. I was not angry nor feeling the need to “hit back” at HI for my dismissal. 


My conversation with Bill Flatley the next day was pleasant but business-like.  He advised me that HI was honoring my two years of severance and health benefits including the use of my company car. He asked me to remove my personal belongings from my office, to which I responded that I had already done so and that I had talked to no one at HRD about my change in status.


Another new beginning -


Karen and I called Cindie and Brian and then Kim and Dave to break the news about these developments.  Their comments were comforting.  The next day I made a comprehensive list of all my contacts who might be helpful in my search for another executive position.  I updated my resume’ and prepared an e-mail  which I would customize for each recipient  I began an e-mail campaign that would last almost two years.  I reached out to many of my contacts with phone calls and if I was not successful in reaching them, I promptly followed up with an e-mail referencing the call.  I spent nearly all day, every day during the week in my home office reaching out to my contacts and executive search firms.  I sent my updated resume to all of the executive search firms that I could find. I limited my search to the U.S. as I was not anxious to relocate abroad and I had few contacts abroad that I thought would be helpful.  I followed up every lead that I had or learned of  on a possible executive management opportunity.


I formed Jim Davis & Associates, complete with an EIN and offered my services as a general business and environmental consultant.  The consulting services were an intended bridging activity to an executive position.  I took advantage of several business consulting offers, one of which was for an environmental firm in the environmental remediation services, based in Pittsburgh, PA.  It provided several months of part time work.  I was an expert witness for the plaintiff in a lawsuit.   I was a bit surprised how hard it was to get executive recruiting firms to engage with me, unless they had specific search underway  which might be a fit with me.  I was in these  firm’s data base however.  I was almost 60 years old and most searches were for younger executives.


After launching my search and reaching a bit of a lull waiting for responses, Karen and I took advantage of not having a fixed business schedule and visited family and friends.  My salary continued as expected and the use of the company car spared us from buying a second car.  I worked on a couple of consulting gigs which required travel.  We celebrated Christmas and New Years at our Lake Harmony home again.  Cindie and Kim’s families were with us the week between Christmas and New Year.  We were looking forward to 1994 with optimism.   I was confident that I would be successful in my search for an executive position..


Dave is recruited to a major job with greatly expanded opportunity -


Dave was recruited to be Senior Vice President Store Operations of Zales Jewelers a national chain with some 500  stores. In May, 1994, he accepted the job, in part because he would be reporting to the supervisor/mentor he had a JB Robinson, a close friend of David’s, who was then Executive Vice President of Zales.  He and Kim made plans to relocate to the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.  They purchased a lovely home in Southlake, TX near the Zales headquarters in Irving, TX.  Kyle and Brett were being introduced to Jujitsu and both of them excelled at it.  Eventually, they each earned a high level belt.


Karen’s uncle George Stephens, her mother’s baby brother who flew B-17s and B-24s bombing Germany in WWII, died May 4,1994 of a heart attack.  He was 75 years old and a retired high school science and math teacher in Buckeye, AZ.  Unfortunately, uncle George did not do a very good job of taking care of himself. He was over-weight and did no exercising.  He is buried in the Veteran’s Cemetery in Phoenix, AZ.  Karen traveled to AZ to attend his services and to meet up with her sister-in-law, Lee Swanson.  I unfortunately had some business commitments which precluded my attending George’s services.


Throughout 1994 I followed up with executive search firms, HBS classmates and other business associates. I continued working several consulting gigs, one of which was working with my great friend and HBS study group member, John Hobbs.  John was very successful financially and was very actively supporting a number of charities.  One charity was a private elementary school in western Massachusetts, near his country home.  The school was heavily dependent on John to subsidize the tuition paid by the couple dozen students who attended the school.   I worked with the founder and head master of the school to improve the financial performance of the school.  John also referred me to friends of his who might be interested in my background and talent, however none of these leads proved out.


The Republicans handily took control of both the U.S. Senate and House in the 1994 elections, as the Clinton administration had mishandled a number of key issues, including, handing his wife, Hilary, responsibility for fixing the national healthcare problems.  The Republicans united behind Congressman Newt Gingrich with a program for governing, titled “Contract With America” which promised a number of actions for the voters IF the Republicans took control of the Congress.  It was a very significant success.


I continued to attend as many of the WPU board meetings as I could, frequently scheduling business trips to the Midwest and piggybacking the WPU meeting with that trip.  The university continued struggling financially.  Karen and I had continued to make sizeable donations as did several other donors which kept the doors open.  John Wagoner continued to serve as President although he had survived one cancer experience.  The current chair was a talented, dedicated WPU donor who after serving several years wanted to step down as Chair of the Board. I  was asked to assume that role and accepted.  I served from early 1994 to 1996.  I worked hard with President Wagoner to locate additional sources of funding.  We were successful in recruiting the primary owner of a local manufacturing company to join the board and to  commit significant resources to WPU.  In October 1995, President Wagoner advised me that he would like to retire at the end of the academic year in May 1996.  I appointed another long time board member, who was a WPU graduate and a successful business man to head a search committee and advised him that I would nominate him to become the board chair upon the appointment of a new WPU President.  The search was successful and I stepped down as chair of the board, but continued as a member of the board until I resigned in 2006, since I had retired and moved to Arizona, making the travel to Iowa to attend board meetings somewhat difficult.


I was  contacted by George Skakel, the previous treasurer of GLC, who left GLC when HI purchased GLC and began investing in small companies with the idea of increasing the companies’ size and profitability and then selling them.  He had just sold a house manufacturing business and was entertaining purchasing a small Florida company which installed and serviced automobile service stations fuel pumps.  The company was privately owned by two cousins who did most of the work themselves.  It was a growing business with Florida’s booming economy and population growth.  Additionally, the business  was frequently boosted  by the several hurricanes Florida experiences which damaged these service stations forcing frequent repairs and or up-grading.  George asked me to work with him in evaluating the company and possibly investing in it with him. 


I spent several months working with George and learning about this company and its business.  Most of this time I spent in the Palm Beach area of Florida where the company was located.  The business had a promising future, although it was dependent on the productivity and continued involvement of the two owners who wanted to expand the business throughout Florida.  In the end, George agreed to purchase the company with me owning a ten percent share of the ownership as the two then owners agreed to sign both a non-compete and a  two year employment commitment with the new company as well as a commitment to purchase the company back within one year if the plans did not work out..  George expected me to basically manage the two previous owners and help them expand the company into other parts of Florida.  I committed to George to work with him at a minimum of six months to help him expand the business.  We worked diligently, but decided after six months that the opportunity was not sufficiently attractive to pursue it further.  George and I divested the business back to the two previous owners and left Florida.


Karen and I pretty much limited our travel to see family.  I travelled for consulting opportunities or for employment interviews.  I walked/ran the golf course early in the mornings but otherwise did little physical fitness.  Karen and I played some golf on the Split Rock Golf Course, but seldom played with any other residents or golf course guests.  We spent quality time with Don and Pat Todd, our best friends in Split Rock.  I fielded very few inquiries about executive employment.  All in all, 1994 was a slow year. 


We did however, participate in the Davis Family summer reunion, which was held in Estes Park, CO for the first time.  We booked a wonderful venue named Glacier Lodge.   We rented the one very large cabin which slept about 25 people, and had a large kitchen with ample refrigerators, freezers, range and other kitchen equipment. It also, had a large dining/gathering area with a number of long tables and chairs.  There was seating and dining for some 50 persons. Since we were  all or  at least nearly all, in attendance we  filled this common area. The resort was moderately sized, with possibly a dozen other one and two bedroom cabins surrounding the big cabin.  We used  the big cabin for all of our meals and  for gathering and remembering.  We rented a number of the additional cabins for those who could not be accommodated in the large cabin.  Outside the cabins was ample grassed area for lawn games, and for sitting and relaxing. There were the usual western activities, a daily trail ride, a weekly chuckwagon breakfast, a decent sized swimming pool and fishing in the rapidly flowing, very cold Big Thompson River which ran beside the lodge property.  The river originated about ten miles higher in the snow melt of the Rocky Mountains. The river was about ten feet wide and very fast moving.  The reunion was a very enjoyable experience and we decided that we would return again in 1995.


We gathered at our Lake Harmony home for Christmas.  Again, we had a wonderful time. The grandson’s really enjoyed the swim spa.  We had roaring fires  in both fireplaces - the great room and the recreation room.  We played many games of monopoly, particularly with Adam who at three years old was already a monopoly addict, and billiards.  Life was good for our family and we all looked forward to an even better 1995.  The six grandsons thoroughly enjoyed the bunkroom.


The new year began much as had the previous year.  I continued pursuing that elusive executive position and doing a modest amount of consulting.  Our family was healthy, prospering and busy.  Life in Lake Harmony was low key.  Travel, except on business and to immediate family was minimal.


A second significant consulting assignment started off, I thought, with an executive recruiter call late in the spring of 1995, advising me that he had an assignment for the CEO of an environmental company which was a start-up working on capturing energy currently being discarded from power plants.  The company was a concept of a distant relative of one of our country’s early titans of industry.  This man owned the company outright, however, the company had very limited financial resources and it’s major possible asset was a partially completed energy recovery plant in the UK.  He offered me the opportunity to be CEO with compensation of a small portion of the company’s equity.  I countered that I would work with him as the start-up CEO – basically a consultant to assess the opportunities, in exchange for the start-up to pay my travel expenses and for ownership shares to compensate me for my time and expertise. 


I worked with this entrepreneur several months, studying his facility in the UK to determine its possibility for success and with his Washington, D.C. attorneys who were attempting to win financial support for his start-up from U.S. EPA grants .  Further to all of this I was attempting to see what the real possibility might be for this start-up.   Several months into the process, the promoter, who disagreed with me on some of my assessments, informed me that he was reclaiming the CEO title and I would have the title of EVP.   I responded that such a move was unsatisfactory.  Shortly afterwards, as covered a bit later I was recruited to be the President and COO of a publicly traded manufacturing company with sales of $1 billion annually.  When I advised the now CEO/owner of this start-up about this change so he would have our new mailing address, he said “I thought that you told me you would not be second fiddle to another CEO”.  My response to him was there was just a slight difference between a start-up and a billion dollar publicly traded company! He really was a bit of a pompous jerk and I was glad to be past him although I was never compensated for my time as his venture shortly thereafter folded.


Jill Aiken graduated from high school that May.  Dad and Bob traveled to Twin Falls, ID to attend Jill’s commencement.   Dad had attended all thirteen of his grandchildren’s high school commencements except for his 10th grandchild, Richard (Dick and Judy’s older son) who graduated in Italy  during the time of some civil unrest and mom and dad decided not to travel to Italy at that time.  A very nice  accomplishment of which he was exceedingly proud.  Dad and mom cherished, loved, encouraged and nurtured their family thorough a lifetime of accomplishment for all of us.  Janie, remembers dad being too thin at that time and that he had some medical tests, including a colonoscopy. She was very concerned about his health. 


Our Davis Family summer reunion was again held at Glacier Lodge in Estes Park.  It was very well attended and it was a joyous time.  Some of the second generation rented a ski boat on Carter Lake Reservoir in Loveland, CO some twenty five miles from Glacier Lodge and enjoyed boating and water skiing.  Others of us swam and sun bathed on the lovely beach.  Most of our younger generation again did a trail ride.  The Thursday morning campfire breakfast for all Glacier Lodge guests was a big hit.  Dad did not attend this reunion, the first one he had missed.  His and our dear friend Velda had heart surgery earlier in the summer and he wanted to stay near her to be of any help and companionship that he could.


Dad is diagnosed with prostate cancer -


A few weeks later dad and we learned that he had prostate cancer which upon further examination the doctors learned  had metastasized into his bones.  We all were stunned to know that he had   not a PSA screen in all of the blood work he had done over the past several years. The doctors advised him there was no  medical treatment recommended other than an orchiectomy (removal of the testicles) to reduce the testosterone in his body and to slow the progress of the cancer.  That surgery was done promptly.  Dad was not in significant pain, was  ambulatory, reasonably active but certainly physically diminished.  His medications included a drug to kill/reduce hormones that were facilitating the spread of the cancer.


In late August, I received a phone call from an executive recruiter with whom I had not previously conversed.  He was given my name from Harry Skilton a close personal friend from my HBS class of ’65 Section C.  It was a call which changed our lives these upcoming next five years and beyond.


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