Eighty-eight students from Samford University’s Brock School of Business received undergraduate and graduate diplomas at a May 14 commencement ceremony.
David Carrington, president of RacingUSA.com and a member of Samford’s Board of Overseers, told the graduates that you never know what is going to happen to you in life and that at any given moment your life could change.
“On April 22, 1999, my life changed forever,” said Carrington. “Because on that day, I was told I had cancer. As I got into my car, God put the story of Lazarus in my mind and Jesus’ statement that ‘This sickness will not end in death.’ From that moment on, I reassessed my priorities.”
Carrington told the graduates that he re-examined the relationships in his life and how he could have a more balanced life in order to spend time with his family and to give back to his community.
As an entrepreneur Carrington owned and operated four NASCAR stores, but in 1999 as he was recovering from cancer, he told his son that he was going to open an Internet store. That store Carrington later discovered was God’s plan for re-balancing his life.
In September 1999, he launched RacingUSA.com, which became his largest store in June of 2000. In February 2001, while on a business trip to Colorado Springs, Dale Earnhardt was killed at the Daytona 500 race. Carrington soon realized that he did not have enough inventory to meet the demand of the Earnhardt fans. He decided to close his store on the Monday after the race out of respect for the family. He had a banner placed on the store that said “Today NASCAR Takes a Back Seat to 7-time Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt.” When they opened on Tuesday, they did not raise their prices.
“All of the media outlets were doing stories about the demand for Dale Earnhardt merchandise. At the end of a feature piece on CNN, though, the reporter said ‘not every merchant is taking advantage of the shopping frenzy’ and showed a picture of our Galleria store with the banner,” Carrington added.
Carrington said that the public relations effect was felt worldwide, and when he opened his doors on Tuesday, he had an overwhelming crowd. Carrington received a call from Action Racing Collectibles asking him why he was not open on Monday, and why he didn’t raise his prices. He said he told them that “to do otherwise, would be taking advantage of the family’s tragedy.” The call resulted in RacingUSA.com receiving 5,000 diecast replicas of Earnhardt’s Talladega 76th win car, the last race he won, from the Earnhardt representatives.
“The rest is history,” Carrington stated. “RacingUSA.com is now the largest independently owned NASCAR store in the world.”
Carrington told the students that he wanted to leave them with four lessons from his experiences as a businessman: be positive; be prepared; be open; be patient.
“I can’t wait to hear how God uses you to meet His needs going forward.”
Business Dean Beck A. Taylor told the graduates “change is the only constant in life. Your title may change throughout your life, but you will never lose the title of Samford Alum.”
Taylor encouraged the students to stay involved with the Brock School of Business and Samford University. This was Taylor's final Samford commencement before he assumes the presidency of Whitworth University, Spokane, Wash.
Joie Campeaux, who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration delivered the charge to graduates and challenged them to “explore, dream and discover just as they had as students of the Brock School of Business. She stated that they all had been blessed with the faith and service to go into the world prepared to serve others.
Campeaux thanked the faculty and staff of the Brock School for making the dreams of the school come true with the naming of the school after Harry B. Brock Jr., longtime Samford trustee. In fact, she stated, “our class is the last class that started the school before it was named.”
She also challenged her fellow graduates to challenge others to perform their best and to show the world that business is a noble and ethical profession. She ended by telling them to avoid regretting the things they did not do while at Samford and to continue to explore, dream and discover.
Samford President Andrew Westmoreland opened the ceremony by telling the graduates to “cherish the University and the experiences they had while they were students.”
Clyde E. “Rhett” Rivers III, who received his bachelor’s degree, gave the invocation, and Greg Taylor, Brock School of Business Advisory Board chairman, delivered the benediction.