The University System of Georgia Board of Regents recently approved the naming of the new Richards College of Business building on the University of West Georgia campus to be known as Roy Richards Sr. Hall.
Roy Richards Sr. founded Southwire Company LLC in 1950, serving as the company’s president and chairman. Since its founding, Southwire has become North America’s leading manufacturer of wire and cable used in the distribution and transmission of electricity. The company provides jobs for more than 7,500 people and generates more than $5.5 billion in sales each year.
“Southwire likely would not have succeeded without West Georgia, and the company likely cannot continue to advance without a powerful nearby university,” said son Roy Richards Jr. “UWG and the Richards College of Business have deep connections with Southwire that have been mutually beneficial for decades and will continue to flourish for years to come.”
Currently, 90 UWG students work as interns at Southwire, and more than 360 Southwire employees are UWG alumni.
“The University of West Georgia is a beacon of light for the region,” Richards Jr. said. “Both in terms of inspiring a warm, educational glow, and in making West Georgia a great place to live, raise a family, start a business and continue your own education. UWG lights the way.”
Richards Sr. and his wife, the late Alice Huffard Richards, invested significantly in UWG during their lifetimes, and their children have continued their legacy of philanthropy and engagement.
“Alice and Roy Richards Sr., Southwire and the University of West Georgia have been intrinsically tied to the economic and workforce development of the West Georgia region,” UWG President Kyle Marrero said. “This historic partnership demonstrates their continual commitment to the transformational power of education. We are deeply grateful for the family’s trust and confidence in UWG, the Richards College of Business and our future success together.”
Circa 1928, Richards Sr. attended UWG – then known as the Fourth District A&M School – earning his high school diploma and graduating in 1931 with approximately 15 classmates.
“During his time at Fourth District A&M, Dad came under the guidance of two wonderful professors – Dr. James Bonner, a renowned historian, and Dr. Irvine Ingram, a future president of West Georgia College – who showed him he could make something of himself if he continued his education and earned a full degree,” Richards Jr. said.
Richards Sr. later earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1935, financing his education by waiting tables and working summers at the family sawmill.
Returning to Carrollton after earning his engineering degree, Richards Sr. developed an assembly line process for installing electric utility poles and stringing wire, which allowed his construction company to complete Rural Electrification Act projects in record time. From 1937-52, Richards’ company strung more than 50,000 miles of wire around his native Carroll County.
From 1942-45, Richards Sr. served as a captain in the U.S. Army. After World War II, he learned suppliers were quoting two- to four-year delivery on wire for transmission cable. He established Southwire Company in March 1950 to manufacture the needed wire.
The USG board also approved the selection of a design firm and project manager to construct the new building, to be situated near the intersection of Maple Street and University Drive, where Watson Hall – a former residence hall not currently in use – now stands.
The new building will be a state-of-the-art learning environment to build the workforce of tomorrow, with flexible teaching spaces, a professional business hub for experiential learning and common spaces that will foster a sense of community among stakeholders.
Richards Hall will be specifically designed to unite business and business education in one space and to foster greater collaboration between undergraduate and graduate education with three distinctive centers of excellence: the Center for Business and Economic Research; the Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy; and the Small Business Development Center.
The Richards College of Business – which has been its name for the past 20 years – is unique to UWG because it partners with many local, regional and national businesses while offering international opportunities. The college has awarded more than 15,000 degrees in its 50 years of existence.
Dr. Faye McIntyre, dean of the Richards College of Business, said the new home of the Richards College of Business will assist the university as the college aspires to be the first choice for students seeking business education.
“This building is being designed to further our ability to prepare the business and community leaders of tomorrow, and it will help us achieve our mission: to transform lives through education, engagement and experiences,” McIntyre said. “The innovation and interaction between our faculty and staff with these amazing students require the space of tomorrow.”
The university plans to begin the design process this year, with construction to begin in 2019.
The selection of a construction firm is expected to take place before the end of the year, and the expected completion date is sometime in 2021.
“Richards Hall will represent a technology-enhanced learning environment for transforming lives and building the workforce of tomorrow,” Marrero said. “We are excited to build this place where future business leaders are formed and where business gets done.”