I always challenge myself to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. My mission is to do things the right way, lead by example and help make the world a better place for all people.
Having risen from a rough neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to spend two decades in managerial and director-level positions at Fortune 500 companies such as Westinghouse, Honeywell and Johnson Controls, Frank Davis '82 hit reset on his career in 2001, starting his own company, the Horizon Group in Birmingham, Ala. His father, a career federal employee, never quite grasped the details of Davis' corporate work, but he did help his son realize that the lack of diversity among business owners was a pressing societal issue.
"Dad would always tell me, 'It's a waste of material and talent for you not to own your own business. Clearly you have the skills and intestinal fortitude to succeed.' I give Dad all the credit for inspiring me," Davis says.
With the support of his family and his business partner, Davis developed a wideranging technical-services company focusing on industrial and commercial materials procurement and project management for clients such as Honda and Volkswagen. As the black CEO of a company based in the Deep South, Davis has felt the occasional sting of racial intolerance.
"It's truly sad that even in the new millennium, bias still exists, albeit not as bad as it used to be," he says. But he also faced the difficulties of creating a firm from the ground up. With no existing business, clients or credit, the first year was turbulent. However, after one year in business, Horizon turned a profit in 2002 and has done so every year since while remaining debt free.
"I always challenge myself to be part of the solution, not part of the problem," says Davis, a member of Bucknell's Board of Trustees. "My mission is to do things the right way, lead by example and help make the world a better place for all people."
One tangible way Davis has done so is with a $5 million gift to Bucknell in support of construction on campus and diversity initiatives.
Bucknell recognized Davis' gift by christening South Campus Apartments 2 as Davis Hall. The building is adjacent to the wall that features the University's Solidarity Creed and houses the Muslim Prayer Room, created in 2017 to provide a dedicated gathering space for members of Bucknell's Muslim community.
Davis notes that Bucknell has a long tradition of holding progressive attitudes toward integration on campus. Referencing the University's first African-American graduate, Edward McKnight Brawley, a member of the Class of 1875, Davis says, “[Brawley] graduated almost 100 years before most other institutions in the United States grudgingly decided to admit students of color. Through it all, Bucknell did the right thing.”