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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jim Goodnight, July 22, 1999. Interview I-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Physical expansion accompanies business growth

Goodnight describes SAS's growth. Much of the company's expansion was in physical terms—when employees and machines filled one space, they were forced to find more room. Incrementally, the company expanded to significant size. As the company expanded, Goodnight needed to consider employee benefits and services such as daycare.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jim Goodnight, July 22, 1999. Interview I-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: Let me turn to the landscape we're in here, the campus and the broad model upon which SAS operates as a business entity. What is the genesis as you look back? When did you first start conceiving of operating a business that was becoming a much larger and more substantial business on this campus model with--. JG: Well campus models start with the fact that you build a building and fill it up, and you need more space. That's what happened to us after about a year and a half of being out here. Right after Jim left, we hired more programmers to make sure that all of those areas of responsibility were covered up. At the same time I said we're going to increase development staff, so we must increase sales staff because you've got to keep the two in balance. You can't just grow your development group without thinking about the additional revenue it's going to take to pay for it. I've always tried to keep them both growing at the same time. So we needed more space by '82. We built a new building to cover [that need]. The architect called it “Building B” because the first one was the SAS building, so the next one was “SAS Building B.” That's how the letters got started out here. Basically, that's what the architect had labeled the next building. We have used the same architect the entire time we've been here. As we were finishing and moving into Building B, the folks across from the Landmark Engineering people were building a spec building across the street, which is now called “Building C.” When that was halfway finished, we realized that we desperately needed a warehouse space. We negotiated with them to buy the building, even though it was only half completed. We expanded the plans and made it a little bit bigger. That's how we got that building. At that point, all the land that the Landmark Engineering people had owned was used up. The section on the other side of the lake, we contacted the person that owned that and asked if they would be willing to sell it to us and we came to an agreement and purchased another probably twenty-five acres. JM: That happened about when? JG: I would say that was probably about '82. JM: '82. JG: Then we expanded. Our daycare was filled up, so on part of this new piece of property we decided to build a new daycare. Then our computing room was filled up in Building A, so we decided we'd build a new building to put R&D in and move the computing facility over there so that was Building E. The basement of that was set aside for computers and the other floors were all the R&D people. That's when R&D moved over there. JM: When did you acquire the rest of the property, incrementally or--? JG: A large chunk of it we got just a year or so later. The state of North Carolina was putting all of this land -- maybe eighty acres over here -- they had it up for auction. This was once part of the Umstead Park land and they decided to auction it off because I-40 had since sliced this off from the park. We didn't do anything about it until the very last day. We said, “Why don’t we do this?” It was about five thousand dollars an acre they were asking for it. We said, “Why don't we do that.” So right before the closing time to turn in the bids, we took our bid down there. At that time nobody else would bid because the interest rates were like twenty percent. They were way up there, really high. We had enough cash that we could do it. After that we just--. There was always this next piece that we thought we ought to get and keep. We just slowly added and added out here until we probably have 700 acres. I really don’t know. I never actually added it all up. JM: [It is] as many as that now. So that happened on sort of an incremental basis, it sounds like. You needed some more space, an opportunity came up, you took those steps. Similar sort of incremental approach to the evolution to what is now a very comprehensive set of perks. That's too trivial a word for a series of serious things you provide employees. JG: I would say all of that has been very incremental. After our first year, I guess it was half a year, July to the end of the year, we were actually able to squeeze out a little bit of a profit. The next year, it was very clear that we were going to be profitable. We started thinking of ways--. We no longer had a retirement system like we had when we were across the street at the university. We said, “We need to do something about that.” We looked at the available options and decided to set up a profit sharing program. At that time it was not that hard of a decision because the company was primarily populated by the owners of the company. So a decision [like], should we keep it or should we give it to the government, it was a pretty straightforward decision. I still feel that way today. I'd rather give it to the employees than give it to the government. That's certainly been one of the guiding -- in back of my mind – concepts. I don’t want to make a huge profit so I can send it to Washington. I'd rather make a smaller profit to send to Washington and make sure the employees are well taken care of with all the benefits we can afford to give them. JM: Any particularly important influences in guiding the evolution of this series of benefits -- health care, elder care, childcare? JG: Well, the childcare was my idea. Jane Helwig had announced that she was going to have yet another baby. She seemed to love to have babies. She liked to cuddle them, or something like that. When she told us that, we were trying to figure out how we could keep her because she was talking about leaving the company at that time. We said, “Well we're building Building B now. What if we set aside an area in the basement for a child care facility?” She thought that would work out okay, so we did that. It was finished. She'd had her baby and she tried to keep it--. As I recall, even then she didn't want to put her baby in there after all. But we had five or six others that had signed up to it, so at that time we started a daycare with about six kids.