MF: Terry, I understand you're a "Southern gentleman". Could you tell us a bit about yourself —where you grew up, your family, your work, and so on?
TR: I grew up in the 60s and 70s in North Carolina in the city of Winston-Salem, famous in those days for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the brands Winston, Salem, and Camel cigarettes. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer. I had numerous relatives that worked for the company and its influence touched everything.
When I was 5, my parents built our first home on land given to them by my grandfather so essentially my brothers and I grew up in a very nice rural area only 10-miles from the center of a major city. I very much appreciate today that places like this no longer exist. I probably didn't appreciate so much working in the tobacco fields as a kid, but no doubt it inspired me not to take up farming as a profession.
As for the “Southern Gentleman” part, I believe it basically means that I was raised to have good manners and be respectful of others – a trait that doesn't seem as important today as it was when I was a kid. When our son came along it was important to us to teach him the same traits – the “yes ma’m, no ma’m” thing.
Of course one musn’t forget the seersucker suits, bow ties, and straw hats. As the official uniform of a “Southern Gentleman” it can be quite troublesome dressing this way in a tobacco field or on a golf course!
MF: And I hear you recently changed jobs —to a company with headquarters in Switzerland. What was that like?
TR: Yes, after 30-years working for the Italians at Magneti Marelli, I slipped across the border and joined ranks with the Swiss, starting a new chapter with the Buhler Group headquartered in Uzwil. Since I was sending all of my money to Switzerland for watches anyway, I figured I'd just make the process more efficient.
MF: No way; really, why did you do this?
TR: Having never intended to stay with Marelli 30-years, I made the change simply for a new adventure. I turned 60 this past December, putting me pretty far to the right of the career curve so perhaps the change was as much a self-test of my own mettle as anything. I just needed something new at least one last time. Buhler provided that opportunity. It doesn't hurt that headquarters is only a short distance from Schaffhausen.