The Davis file Featured

5:28am EDT June 30, 2004
Born: 1947, Atlanta

 

First job: Bottling wine in an Atlanta plant during the summer

 

Career moves: Headed National Distributing Co.'s wholesale operation in Sarasota, Fla. Led the Georgia branches in Albany, Augusta, Macon, Savannah, Brunswick; director of sales at NDC, then president; added title co-CEO, and, after partner passed away, CEO

 

Boards: Acuity; University of Georgia Foundation Trustees; Board of Federation of Greater Atlanta; Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange Program; Davis Academy (a reformed Jewish Day school; started school named after his parents)

 

What is the greatest business lesson you have learned?

 

Patience -- which is not one of my virtues. Learn how to be patient and try not to shoot from the hip. Instead of making a quick decision, sleep on it overnight, particularly if it's something that you've really got some emotions about.

That's probably one of the best lessons I've learned. Sometimes you do something like that and you regret it. You didn't give yourself a chance to think through it. Sometimes problems come up -- this is really an interesting thing -- and if you let it go for awhile, they disappear; it's self-correcting.

 

What has been your biggest business challenge and how did you overcome it?

 

I guess creating my own niche in the business with having a father that was so dominant and really a major force in our industry. That was a real challenge to prove that I deserved my place here. (His father ran the business for 45 years).

He was pretty dominant and domineering. People loved him; he was a salesman's salesman. He was one of these guys that was his way or the highway. We certainly had our differences over the time we were in business together. I don't think it was atypical of what goes on in a lot of businesses, where kids are coming into a business where there is a strong-willed entrepreneur that's built a business up. That was a challenge.

I just kept my head down and kept plugging away. I just tried to do things the way I thought were right, what I believed in.

 

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

 

I'd have to say Warren Buffett. I (like) his down-home, homey approach; he's honest. I think he believes in the power of people. He's just a brilliant guy. He's got this self-deprecating way about him. He makes sense.