I met Edward “Ted” Fleming III on the first day I was hired as President. Little did I know that his entrepreneurial spirit would be an essential and critical ingredient to the strategies for Bay Path’s future. Ted was originally named to our Advisory Council in 1977, and was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1986. He served as Chair of the Board from 1997 to 2001, and was named trustee emeritus in 2002. A member of the Legacy Society, and consistent annual donor, Ted has left his mark in very significant and lasting ways at Bay Path, including the Fleming Book and Gift Center in the Blake Student Commons. We would not be the Bay Path of today without Ted’s belief in our potential, his investment of time, talent and treasure, and his philosophy to never “let up or give up.” In 2013, I had the honor and delight to bestow on Ted the President’s Award for his devoted and long-standing support of Bay Path. He has never stopped caring for Bay Path, and throughout the 23 years of my presidency I have been able to count on his wise counsel and guidance.
(Pictured above, from left to right: Ted Fleming, President Carol Leary, and George Keady III, former chair of the board and now trustee emeritus)
Could you share a bit about your life journey and career?
I grew up in the Forest Park section of Springfield, MA, and attended St. John’s Prep in Danvers, MA. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame (ND) with a major in finance. I later attended the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College and their Advanced Management Program.
My college studies were interrupted for 41 months in the Air Force as a SAC (Strategic Air Command) survival instructor working in the high Rockies and high Sierras with SAC bomber crews, with targets in Russia, teaching them how to live if they went down. I later returned to ND with a wife and child and finished my degree.
I entered a training program at Milton Bradley, and at 30 years old I became general manager of their first acquisition, New England School Supply, a school distributor servicing the six states and their small export market. In later years, I was appointed vice president and division manager of Milton Bradley educational products and those of Playskool, another acquisition based in Chicago, IL.
I left Milton Bradley when I was approached by the board of Taylor Rental Corporation, a 700-store operation that was in workout and owed the banks about $40 million dollars. After a few months, we merged Taylor with Stanley Works, and Stanley took out the banks in the first two weeks. I then went out to try to buy a company and in the process I was hired by a VC to run a small credit card processor, DMGT Corp. in Nashua, NH. In ten years, my young team, 20s-30s, built DMGT into the largest independent processor in the United States. We were leading edge technology and a beta site for Visa. The company was later sold and after an IPO was renamed Paymentech. Paymentech is now owned by JPMorgan Chase and handles the processing needs of the Chase consumer cards and merchant base.
Because of the success of my team, I was twice selected as a finalist for New England Entrepreneur of the Year. I lost. Twice.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I hoped I have been a good mentor to people that I have worked with.
What is one regret that you have in your career?
What advice would you give to students at Bay Path who are setting out on their own life journey?
1.) Find a career that you’re happy with, and then go to work, to work.
2.) Challenge yourself throughout your life; you can do more than you think you can.
3.) Don’t ever be afraid to fail. Just get up and start again.