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WESFiles Alumni: Tim Day '59

WESFiles Alumni: Tim Day '59

For the first time in 50 years, Wesleyan alumnus Tim Day '59 returned to Corwin Stadium Saturday to see the Cardinals on the gridiron.

A Deerfield Academy graduate, Tim and roughly six other classmates debated between Amherst, Dartmouth, Harvard and Wesleyan. They ultimately all chose Wesleyan, as Tim unintentionally followed in his father's footsteps. "He was a Chi Psi, and I ended up pledging Chi Psi," said Tim. "My father (David M. Day '27) was a math major, I was a math major. And I wasn't a math major because he was, but because I was good at math and so was he."

Tim – a four-year hockey player at Wesleyan – joined the United States Marine Corps when he was a freshman. He would attend training in the summer, and following graduation in 1959, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and served three years of active duty as Platoon Commander, Fire Direction Officer, Executive Officer and Acting Battery Commander. He loved it, but his then-wife did not, so he compromised and agreed that if he got into Harvard Business School or Harvard Law School, he would leave. Tim was accepted to both and chose the Harvard Business School, while following through with his promise to leave the Marine Corps.

After graduating in the top third of his class with an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1964, Tim's career took off, but his loyalty to the Marine Corps never left. He started his business career at the age of 27, joining the central finance staff of Trans World Airlines (TWA) – a major international airline. After a four-year tenure with TWA, in which he moved up in ranking several times and occupied six different positions, Tim joined General Host Corporation – a Fortune 500 diversified company – as Vice President of Development and Planning in 1968 at the age of 31.

Tim's success continued to grow rapidly. At 35 years old, he was named the Group Vice President of Operations at General Host Corporation, and at age 38, the Company asked him to take over the leadership of its largest subsidiary as President of Cudahy Company in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cudahy Company was a full line meat operation that consisted of 13 plants, 15 distribution centers, and over $600 million in sales - and was in serious operational and financial trouble prior to Tim's hire. After a very demanding experience at Cudahy, Tim joined the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) in 1977. While there, it became clear to him that successful entrepreneurs had far more personal satisfaction, security, wealth, independence, and freedom than their counterparts in big public companies.

Then, in 1981, General Host requested that Tim consider buying some or all of the business. An agreement was eventually reached, as Tim put his reputation and financial resources on the line to become the principal founder, major stockholder, and Chief Executive Officer of Bar-S Foods Co. (Bar-S). From the beginning, defeat seemed imminent as the Company faced many challenges. However, over time Bar-S grew into an industry (processed meat) leader and one of the largest privately held companies in Arizona by pursuing a strategy of delivering real value to the marketplace through a management process that emphasized clear vision, focused efforts, and a strong foundation.

Twenty-eight years later, with Tim in his 70s and no plan for family succession in the Company, the Board of Directors decided it was the right time to consider possible longer-term strategic options for Bar-S. On September 2, 2010, Bar-S merged with Sigma Alimentos – reportedly the largest transaction in Arizona in 2010 – which "brought a very special 29-year era in Tim's life and the ownership of Bar-S to a propitious close."

"The founding and building of Bar-S produced many valuable lessons involving risk, struggle, and reward; and they made a deep imprint on Tim's character and sense of values.  Among them were:  that leadership at all levels of the organization is the essential factor that determines the outcome of any battle; that will power, perseverance, positivism, and enthusiasm will overcome most obstacles; that leaders must be visible, confident, and communicate effectively to energize and motivate an organization; that widespread physical fitness produces better health, greater productivity, stronger employees, more discipline, and a tougher team; and that financial resources must be conserved to handle unforeseen crises."

Tim's storied career goes well beyond his success as an entrepreneur. In 1997, Tim and his
wife, Sandy, established the Timothy T. Day Foundation. The mission of the foundation, in brief, is to support organizations and activities that provide support to Marines and the USMC; provide support for animal welfare organizations that help rescue abused and abandoned dogs; educate, foster and develop entrepreneurs; promote limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility; and improve facilities or programs at educational institutions attended by family members, particularly those that enhance physical fitness or entrepreneurial studies.

He attributes much of his entrepreneur success to his three years as a Marine officer, and has received numerous awards and honors due to his ongoing commitment to Marines and the Marine Corps. His support to both is unparalleled. "The Marine Corps had an enormous impact on my core values, my personal traits, and my character," he said. "That influence still guides my actions even to this day."

One of his most cherished endeavors was funding the Timothy T. Day Marine Corps Entrepreneur Fellowship at Harvard Business School; the Marine Corps Executive Education Fellowship at Harvard Business School; the Day Scholars Program in the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation; the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel at the National Museum of the Marine Crops in Quantico, Virginia; and the Timothy T. Day Overlook in the Semper Fidelis Park in Quantico. In addition, Tim and his wife, Sandy, have established the Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companions Program that assists injured Marines through the Semper Fi Fund. Grants from the program unite injured Marines with service dogs, and ensure the dogs are properly trained and continually cared for.

In 2009, Tim was recognized by Wesleyan University with a "Distinguished Alumnus Award," and on Friday, November 11, 2016, the University celebrated Tim and his generosity to Wesleyan. Funds from his endowment support the upkeep of existing equipment, as well as the purchase of new equipment for the Andersen Fitness Center.

WESFiles Alumni: Tim Day '59
November 17, 2016 WESFiles Alumni: Tim Day '59