HAYNES GRIFFIN ’65
FROM CELL PHONES
TO CLOTHING, A SERIAL
suppliers to the hospitality industry,” Frank
says. “When you deliver quality, service, and
value, that gives you good word of mouth.”
The virtuous cycle continues, he says,
when you ask the right questions and treat
customers well. And so wherever your travel
takes you in the coming years, watch where
you sit in a wide range of luxury hotels. If it’s
leather, Woodberry graduate Frank Toledano
may have put it there.
WOODBERRY IN SPAIN WASTHE BIGGEST THING I DID AS ASTUDENT. THAT TRIP GAVE ME THETRAVEL BUG, AND IT GAVE ME THECONFIDENCE THAT I COULD GOOUT AND TRAVEL AND EVENTUALLYEVEN WORK INTERNATIONALLY.”
Not long before he graduated from Princeton University,Haynes Griffin’65was driving back home to North Carolina anddecided to make a quick stop at Woodberry.
Mr. Griffin went into the Walker Buildingand sat down for a visit with A. BakerDuncan ’ 45, then in one of his last yearsas headmaster. Like many college seniors,Mr. Griffin was trying to figure out what heshould do with his life after graduation.
“So I asked Mr. Duncan for career advice,
and he said he thought I should be an
connectivity to aviation for the first time.
And much like Vanguard Cellular was full
of Woodberry connections, SmartSky’s
board of directors includes t wo Woodberry
graduates — Jack Tankersley ’68 and Fred
“Access to the network of the Woodberry
community has been an important source
of influence to me, from working with Rich
Preyer to having Woodberry graduates on
my board of directors,” Mr. Griffin said.
And that isn’t Mr. Griffin’s only ongoingbusiness interest. He’s also chairman andCEO of InsectShield, LLC, a global apparelcompany that sells insect repellent clothingand treats personal clothing, work gear,and uniforms for larger clients, includingthe US military.
As he’s worked on this wide range ofbusinesses, Mr. Griffin has also found timeto support Woodberry, serving as aclass agent, reunion committeechairman, and for many yearson the board of trustees,including a tenure aschairman of the board inthe early 2000s. Today heremains active as one ofWoodberry’s two emeritustrustees. He says he’s stayedinvolved with Woodberry inpart because much of his successas a businessman is rooted in lessonslearned during his high school days nearlysixty years ago.
“I think Woodberry teaches boys
leadership and personal responsibility,” he
says. “Both of these are very important to
becoming a successful entrepreneur.”
He also said that Woodberry graduates
who start or run their own businesses
benefit from the school’s honor system.
People who know Woodberry know they
can trust a Woodberry graduate to keep
his word and operate fairly in the business
world. It’s another reason Mr. Griffin said
he values the counsel of fellow alumni
when running his businesses.
“The lesson of the importance of integrity
has been one of the mainstays of my
business career,” he said. “It’s something
I learned at Woodberry and have always
believed in ever since.”
Mr. Griffin took his old headmaster’s
advice. A few months after graduation, he
jumped on a new business trend — self-
service gas. The new company installed
fuel pumps at existing convenience stores
around Virginia and the Carolinas. Mr.
Griffin’s company put in the fuel pumps and
supplied the gasoline. The convenience
store got a portion of the gas sales, as well
as increased customer traffic, while the
fuel business was essentially able to open
gas stations around the Southeast without
taking on land or labor costs. By the time
he sold the business in 1985, it was one
of Exxon’s largest independent gasoline
But by the time Mr. Griffin left the fuelbusiness, he’d already started his nextventure with Rich Preyer ’66. Thetwo were acting on a tip fromRich’s father, L. RichardsonPreyer ’ 37, who spent t welveyears as a congressmanrepresenting the areasaround Greensboro, abouta new and largely untestedtechnology — cellularphones. Mr. Preyer told theyounger men that the FederalCommunications Commission wasinterested in encouraging local investorsto run regional cellular networks. Mr.Griffin, Mr. Preyer, and other businesspartners formed Vanguard CellularSystems, which was headquartered inGreensboro and focused on attractingrural and suburban customers under theCellular One brand name. Mr. Griffin wasthe founding CEO and eventually becamechairman of the board. The business wentpublic in 1988 and was acquired by AT&Tin 1999 in a cash and stock deal.
And though it’s been twenty yearssince the Vanguard sale, Mr. Griffin isstill working on wireless technology.Today he’s the chairman and CEO ofSmartSky Networks, a business workingto bring truly high-speed internet serviceto air travel. The company believes itsbroadband service will transform aviationby bringing the benefits of true internet