High Point University dedicates R.G. Wanek Center
October 17, 2013,
HIGH POINT — Earlier this year, Ron Wanek gave $10 million to High Point University through his charitable foundation.
Ron Wanek, left, is joined by his wife Joyce, daughter-in law Karen Wanek and son Todd Wanek following an Oct. 16 ceremony dedicating the R.G. Wanek Center on the campus of High Point University.
On Wednesday, the school recognized the Ashley Furniture Inds. founder with the dedication of the R.G. Wanek Center, the largest facility on the sprawling campus. The event was attended by Wanek's colleagues, political dignitaries and members of the academic community.
"This university has the same values that Ron Wanek lives by on a daily basis. They believe in capitalism; they believe in free enterprise; they believe in the art of the possible," said Todd Wanek, Ashley president and CEO and Ron Wanek's son. "They believe that everything is an opportunity. That's who Ron Wanek is. He's giving back to this university because this is a great institution. They believe in the same things and have the same values we have."
Nido Qubein, HPU president, called the elder Wanek a philanthropist and broke down the meaning of the word, which means friend of humankind in Greek.
"What would a university be if not for men and women who believe in the cause? What would an institution of higher learning be if not for men and women who are willing to share the blessings that God has so amply bestowed upon them? Thank God for philanthropists. To be a friend of humankind; is there a cause more noble?" Qubein said.
"Tonight is not about some event on a college campus. Tonight it is about you and me celebrating the goodness that free enterprise and capitalism brought our way. Let us not forget that in America, greatness still can happen. High Point University is but one example."
Paul Broyhill, retired president and CEO of manufacturer Broyhill, said that in the early days of the industry, companies challenged one another to reach the $100 million sales plateau. Years later, he said, Ashley eclipsed them all.
"In the late '70s and early '80s, we three or four (companies) had gotten our volumes up to $300 and $400 million and we thought that was fantastic. In those days, there was a little company, Ashley, way up in Wisconsin, who had heard of them? They were doing about $30 million. Who would ever think these great names like Broyhill, Bassett, Thomasville and Drexel and many others would be disappearing but yet little Ashley is not so little anymore," Broyhill said. "When I mentioned the volume of $100 million sounding important to us, he doesn't deal in hundred millions, he deals in billions. He built a business that surpasses by far anything anyone in the furniture business has ever done."
Following the remarks, the gathering of around 600 met in front of the newly named Wanek Center for the center's formal naming.