The Research Triangle Park

Biography

Richard “Dick” Daugherty is a Research Triangle Park devotee. His career with IBM spanned more than 38 years—22 of which were spent as vice president and general manager of the research facility in Research Triangle Park.

Dick is credited with leading IBM’s growth from 4,000 workers to 12,000—making its RTP facility the largest IBM installation in the world. Following his position as general manager of IBM RTP, Dick was promoted to vice president of worldwide PC Manufacturing.

From 1973 to his retirement in 1994, the Philadelphia native was known as a fair boss with high expectations for his workers and himself. His neighbor, John Riedy described him in a 1990 Tar Heel of the Week article in the News & Observer, as a man who doesn’t like to lose, whether at work or at play. Mr. Riedy told the reporter. “He’s got an attic full of big pandas and giraffes and that kind of stuff. He’ll keep playing until he wins.”

“I guess I’ve been labeled competitive in everything I do,” Dick said at the time. “I agree that’s fair.  I hate to lose. I want to succeed.”

He did and so did the region.

For many Triangle residents, Big Blue provided higher paying jobs with good benefits. The family-friendly company was also known for its generosity to its workers and the community. IBM was one of the first employers in the area to host special family events offering staff and their families a day off and an afternoon of free food and amusement rides.

“IBM is one of our most important corporate citizens,” says Smedes York, former Raleigh mayor. “Dick was the top man, a visionary. We’ve been good friends, involved in community activities since he came to Raleigh.”

 “He’s been a leader on a consistent basis for a number of years; he’s been right in the forefront,” Mr. York adds

After leaving IBM, Dick served for six years as director of the Research Corporation at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. He sits on several boards of directors including Wake Education Partnership, the North Carolina Symphony, Rex Hospital and the Kenan Institute at NC State.

He has been instrumental in the process to design a new master plan for Research Triangle Park and continues to provide his counsel to the board as emeritus member.

Former RTF board member and retired Carolina Power & Light President Sherwood Smith says Dick brings a valuable perspective to the board. “He saw the Park as a tenant. He sees the overall picture.”

Dick envisions a Park that looks very different from the acres of fields and pine trees he found when he arrived in the early 1970s from IBM in Endicott, N.Y. “Companies prided themselves in being in their own little cluster,” he explains. “They were only allowed to build on 15 percent of the land, 85 percent was going to be open space.”

Now many of the companies, the majority of them small entrepreneur startups, want to be physically closer to each other and want opportunities to co-mingle. Young professionals want to be around coffee shops, pubs, and restaurants.  Dick explains, “If they want to recruit the newer engineer or scientist, they are not going to wall them up in a monastery.”

This new way of doing business is the impetus for building a Park Center with a landmark with a centerpiece structure. Dick imagines a Park with light rail transportation, apartment buildings and housing developments. RTF leaders have been talking to county leaders and transportation officials about light rail service connecting the Park to other Triangle destinations.

“It has been the economic engine for North Carolina. If you look at the history, the companies used to be furniture, tobacco and textiles. Some of that still exist. But the high tech change got started in the Park and grew in the Park even though you now see some of it in Charlotte…The big central focus from those old industries to the new North Carolina started in the Park.”

About 40,000 people work in the Park, and those positions are supported by two to three jobs in other parts of the state, Dick explains.

“If it’s going to continue, we have to make changes,” he says.