February 7-8, 2013
Leadership and Innovation panelists—Jim Chaffin, Jim Light, Peter Rummell, Ron Terwilliger. Moderator-Diana Permar
Topic was Charles Fraser, Chairman of the Sea Pines Company
How you came to work for Sea Pines?
Light- arrived in 1968 at age 25, William Hilton Inn and Adventure Inn were the only hotels, about 1000 people living on HHI. Goal was to develop 100 lots and 20 condos on average per year. Charles was capital starved, bought land from a family for $1 down and a note. Greenwood gave him $ for the 1st golf course in a swap for ocean front property. Light followed Charles around and took notes—gave him a position of “authority”. Light recruited Chaffin out of grad school.
Rummell was in his second year at Wharton; Terwilliger was at Harvard Business School and joined the company at the end of 1970.
Thoughts about Charles:
He was passionate about ULI—1971—leadership starts at the top,
He had a thirst for learning and intellectual curiosity—had to know what was going on. “Never invent when you can steal”-important to learn from others. ULI ethic—share information openly and candidly.
Charles’ leadership style:
1-clarity of mission—wrote consumer protection guidelines early on and committed 25% of the land for open space.
2-guy who takes notes, controls the meetings—Light
3-tuned in to how hard his people worked—invited spouses to meetings and appreciation dinners.
4-he was a delegator—his young team had lots of responsibility.
Achieved $106 million in sales year ending 2-28-74.
Rummell—we tried to do too much, too fast. Charles was creative and an avid reader—introduced bike paths, rules on tree cutting, nature/open space.
Terwilliger—Charles was “Steve Jobs” like in that he conceived what consumers might want. Took an idea and evolved it by talking to lots of people. “Process is as important as creativity.” He took a good idea and stayed with it—was a good listener.
“Connectedness” is important to today’s consumer—family, health, making friends are what have importance, not sticks/bricks and amenities.
Terwilliger—must have long term view—sustainability—Daniel Island-no debt.
In resorts—gates are more for sense of security than elitism today. Gates are a negative today. Golf is not front and center.
Rummell—isolation is a huge issue-doesn’t work socially, environmentally or in terms of infrastructure—becoming more a vertical world, access to services, etc. is important. Theme will be Health—huge opportunity in 1st and 2nd home communities. There is a mentality in place about the way you think about things as people get older—Wellness and Continuing Education.
Light—it is just fine to rent—may be out of necessity—but attitudinal as well.
Sea Pines experience/lesson:
Light—tenacity—concepts he believed in.
Terwilliger-business is cyclical-must organize to get through the downturn.
Chaffin-talked about Charles’ passion and joy, coupled with his persistence and courage.
Rummell-ideas can come from anywhere.