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Meet the New NCCBI Chair

“I’m not coming into this cold. Sue (Cole) has been extremely helpful in the past year — she has made sure that I’ve been deeply involved in what we’re working to achieve at NCCBI. Our objectives already are in place.”
Hard Drive

Barry Eveland’s engineering 
skills are assets he can rely on 
in building a stronger NCCBI

By Kevin Brafford

Barry Eveland feels as comfortable behind the podium as NCCBI’s chair for the next year as he does behind the wheel of either of the two boats he keeps docked at his home on Lake Norman. That attitude has less to do with his talents, he stresses, than with the leadership and vision of the two individuals who led the association just before him. Specifically, it’s due to the ongoing public policy agenda first advocated by First Citizens chief executive Jim Hyler, the association’s chair for 2002-03, then built upon during the past 12 months by outgoing chair Sue W. Cole, regional CEO of U.S. Trust Co.

So when Eveland, IBM’s senior state executive for North Carolina, took the gavel from Cole at last month’s Annual Meeting, there was no need to, well, re-invent the wheel. “I’m not coming into this cold,” he says. “Sue has been extremely helpful in the past year — she has made sure that I’ve been deeply involved in what we’re working to achieve at NCCBI. Our objectives already are in place.”

Indeed, Eveland, 59, points out that the association has made well-known its four-point action plan. “We strongly support the reduction of taxes, both corporate and personal,” he says. “We want to assist in economic development. We want to improve the efficiency of government. And we want to focus on the internal governance of NCCBI, particularly in the area of membership.”

As the state’s largest business organization, Eveland says NCCBI is clearly focused on going full-steam ahead by continuing to press for the business needs of its more than 1,800 members. “We are the most influential organization that promotes the business interests of the state,” he notes. “That’s a tremendous responsibility, one that I take very seriously. Now, with this four-point action plan in place, we are well-positioned not only for this year, but for many years ahead.”

Credit for NCCBI’s new vision belongs to many, Eveland says. “I think it began with Jim Hyler,” he says. “Jim’s year was the turning point for the organization because he brought a lot of new issues and a new perspective to the forefront.

“He worked to involve Sue as much as possible, and she did the same with me and (new first vice chair) Steve Miller this past year. As I enter this, I don’t have to sit down and develop a whole new plan. The organization has a much better sense of continuity, and it shows that we are single-minded in what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Cole expects Eveland to have a successful, albeit challenging year. “There’s much work to be done,” she says, “but Barry is the ideal person to be in this role. He has great leadership skills and is committed to improving the state’s business climate for our members. NCCBI is lucky to have him.”

NCCBI President Phil Kirk praises Eveland’s polish and professionalism and his impressive track record. “He is a no-nonsense, results-oriented person,” Kirk says. “He is sensitive to people and we look forward to having him as our leader. Having a manufacturer to head NCCBI during these challenging times, especially in the manufacturing sector, is a plus.”

Eveland is confident that effective strides can be made in each area of the four-point plan, but stresses that gratification may not be immediate. “If there is a reduction of taxes, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight,” he says. “It will be a phased-in plan, but it will be a win for us.

In terms of economic development, Eveland believes that not enough attention has been paid to small companies. “The general public tends to focus on big business,” he says. “The feeling’s been, ‘let’s get Boeing here and that will solve all our problems.’ In reality, there is much to be gained from helping develop small businesses in the state.

“We have to pay attention at all levels. We need to help with the recruiting efforts, and we want to make sure that legislation, such as the Lee Act, properly incents both new and existing businesses.”

Eveland is optimistic that steps can be taken to improve government efficiency. “We have to strongly support this publicly because it’s not one the government necessarily prioritizes, and it’s not one the legislature will want to jump into because it has such short-term negatives,” he says. “The Business Council on Fiscal Reform has a set of recommendations the council made to the governor, and we’d like to see those implemented.”

The fourth goal is to help NCCBI grow. “We’ve been successful at holding our membership at about the 2,000 level, and that’s been in a weakened economy,” he says. “We’re working on ways to improve our retention, and recruiting new members is a high priority.”

To Eveland’s way of thinking, NCCBI is an easy sell. “Look at all we have to offer,” he says. “We’re the recognized state chamber of commerce and the official representative of the state in manufacturing. We can lobby on behalf of all business, and we’re a voice that’s respected by the General Assembly.”

Eveland was raised in the small Pennsylvania town of Shamokin, in the coal regions north of Harrisburg. The town, with a population of only around 15,000, isn’t quite as large as the Research Triangle Park where he now works.

He credits his parents with providing unconditional love and support. “When I was young,” he recalls, “they instilled confidence in me that I could do whatever I set out to do. Their support in my formative years carried with me my whole life.”

Eveland also benefited from the most unfortunate of circumstances during wartime. “There were two or three years of my life when I lived with my grandparents, when my dad was in World War II,” he says. “I was very close to my grandfather. He was a postal clerk, and on the side he made aprons to sell to postal workers. He grew that into a successful dress manufacturing business. He was a big inspiration to me. He helped me financially through school, too.”

High school aptitude tests were popular at the time, and the results of Eveland’s recommended that he pursue a career as an accountant. But Eveland couldn’t fancy himself a CPA; in fact, he had other ideas. “I knew pretty early on that I wanted to be an engineer, because I pictured that as someone who got involved in solving problems using the analytics of math and science to come up with solutions that were practical,” he says. “I was interested in developing practical solutions for everyday life.”

He attended Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Penn., which in the early 1960s was exclusively engineering and all male. “I was very much into the sciences in high school. I ended up majoring in industrial engineering, which some people call ‘make-believe’ engineering, but I always thought of it as ‘jack of all trades, master of none,’ ” he jokes. “But it does touch on all the engineering disciplines. It gives you a broad background in engineering and gets you focused on a lot of the management aspects.”

After graduating from Lehigh in 1966, Eveland took a job with IBM at its facility in Owego, N.Y., about halfway between Binghamton and Elmira and just a few miles north of the Pennsylvania state line. There he worked on the System 360 language, the first large-scale solid logic technology that IBM produced.

But while he loved what was the beginning of a 37-year (and counting) relationship with IBM, he didn’t love Owego. It was cold and dreary — perhaps the least desirable residence of the 32 New York towns that begin with the letter “O.” Only Seattle, Eveland says, has fewer sunny days on average per year.

It was no surprise, then, when in 1970 IBM executives asked if he’d be interested in transferring to a new plant in RTP, he jumped at the chance. He and his then-wife and their two children, Jeffrey and Cheryl, moved south and Eveland became one of Big Blue’s first 3,000 employees in RTP.

 Eveland held several different positions over the next 12 years, but the one he refers to most frequently was that as a resource planning manager for Dick Daugherty, the plant manager at the time. Eveland presided over resource planning — both people and facilities — during a period of explosive growth for the RTP site. “At that time we started construction for many of the facilities we have here today,” he says. “We also got started in intelligent display manufacturing — predecessors to PCs — and we were introducing such huge volumes, or what we thought at the time were huge volumes, that it caused us to really expand the manufacturing process here at this site.”

While the RTP site continued to flourish, IBM looked for another North Carolina facility to house even more employees and missions being transferred from the Northeast. IBM-Charlotte was founded in 1978 at University Research Park, which at the time was similar in concept to RTP, and Eveland was at the forefront. “I was lucky enough to have done all the initial planning for that,” he says, “like the site justification and layout, what missions would go there, what people would be there at the beginning.”

In 1982, Eveland said yes to what he expected would be a two-year assignment back in New York working on the staff for John Akers — IBM’s future chair and CEO — figuring that the job would broaden his understanding of the corporation. Within a year he’d been promoted to an executive position in the logistics organization.

Logistics, Eveland admits, means different things to different people, and at IBM it encompasses production planning, scheduling, management of inventory, distribution of products and demand forecasting, for which, he says, “you have to be a bit of a fortune teller.”

Even with such a vision, Eveland didn’t foresee an expected two-year assignment turning into 10 years on the corporate staff. But that’s what happened. “The staff job was very interesting and very high profile,” he says. “You had a great influence in what the corporation does because you’re making recommendations to the senior management, so while you can make a tremendous amount of impact, it’s second as opposed to being hands on,” he says.

That yearning to “get my fingernails dirty again” led to a transfer back to RTP in 1993 as vice president of logistics for IBM’s then-struggling personal computer company. The operation, he says, suffered from an inability to forecast demand accurately, from high inventory levels and from difficulty handling product transitions. “It seemed like the perfect opportunity to use the skills I’d developed in logistics over the previous 10 years … to use them on a real operation.”

So he and his staff set about changing their whole way of doing business. They reduced the number of models they manufactured from 3,000 to fewer than 300. They streamlined product development cycles, they implemented new logistic processes in manufacturing to reduce the amount of inventory held in the plants, and they revamped their forecasting processes. Their turnover time improved five-fold. “It was a very rewarding time in my career,” he says.

The accomplishments earned him a promotion to
general manager of PC manufacturing operations, and in 2002 he was named vice president of operations for the integrated supply chain organization, with responsibility for IBM’s system hardware manufacturing and distribution worldwide. In addition to being the company’s senior state executive for North Carolina, Eveland also carries the title of senior location executive for the RTP facility.

For all his vast accomplishments on land, Eveland finds much of his joy these days on water. He began boating when he worked in New York and lived in Riverside, Conn., right on Long Island Sound. “I bought a 21-foot powerboat, and it sort of started from there,” he says. “I gradually fell more and more in love with it.”

Eveland was divorced when, in 1998, he met Gaye Burmeister in what he admits was a “fairy tale kind of thing.” An assistant at the time to First Union Chairman and CEO Ed Crutchfield, Gaye and Barry were the only two single people at a function at the Governor’s Mansion; naturally, they were seated next to each other.

“We hit it off right away,” he says. “We had a lot in common, and in particular she loved the water. She had done some boating before, but not anything serious. Now she loves it.

“There were some logistical issues, of course. I lived in northwest Raleigh and she lived in Matthews. So we compromised and bought a house on the lake in Cornelius — I’d always wanted to live on the water.

Eveland spends his weeknights at a condo in Chapel Hill and his weekends — long ones when possible — at home with Gaye, who’s now retired. The two will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary next month. Of the thousands of motorists who navigate I-85 through the Piedmont during rush hour, Eveland says none probably are as glad to be doing it as he is. “It’s a hobby of mine, driving up and down I-85,” he says. “And I sure like where it takes me.”

Eveland hints at retirement, although he says no date has been set. He wants more time with Gaye, and he wants to work on his golf game — he’s a member at the Peninsula Club and professes to have a special fondness for Pinehurst. Mostly, he wants to spend more time on his boats.

“One of our plans is to do the Intracoastal Waterway,” he says. “I want to get a 35- to 40-foot boat, take our time and just enjoy the scenery. I can’t imagine that there’s anything better.”

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Last Modified: March 18, 2004
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