Speaks at 2016 Keene State College Graduation Ceremony
By Rick Reynolds
Speaking at the 2016 Keene State College graduation ceremony, Tedd Benson graciously received the Granite State Award, expressing his gratitude to all who nominated him.
The Granite State Award is conferred on leaders whose contributions to New Hampshire merit special commendation. Nominees were selected based on their national and/or international importance and whose contributions have enhanced either society as a whole, or brought significant enrichment or benefit to particular groups.
In addressing the 2016 graduating class, Benson recalled founding his company 43 years prior, as a young and idealistic carpenter, “…with an audacious (and naïve) goal to create a better standard for the quality of homes in America.”
Back then, “I knew two things,” he added. “1) homes matter immensely, and 2) they’re generally not nearly good enough.” But despite the obvious importance of our homes, Benson, as a young carpenter, “…knew from first-hand experience… that homes are the most defective, compromised products people buy,” so as a tiny, backwoods NH building company, “…we set out four decades ago to do our part to raise the standard.”
From that intro, Benson impressed on the graduates that, “How we house ourselves is literally the root and stalk of society, even civilization itself; and certainly homes play a critical formational role in the lives of the people who inhabit them.”
From there, Benson segued into how he went about creating an egalitarian business culture where everyone, “…could gain the same respect, authority, and responsibility as anyone else.”
”It was my idealistic belief that if people are given the context where both high expectations and mutual respect are givens, people will naturally summon the best of themselves.” And it was this unleashed collective energy and intelligence, Benson believed, “…that would overcome my lack of business acumen.”
Benson then said that the award he was receiving also belongs to the 110 men and women at Bensonwood and Unity Homes, “who know only the high road, and who every day bring the very highest standards of personal discipline, self-management, continuous learning, and contagious pride to work.”
Benson concluded his remarks by imparting some practical wisdom for living life on a higher plane:
“(The) ultimate personal reward…is not just a technical or artistic skill; it becomes a moral skill, and therefore allows you to bring your heart and soul to work, too. When you are there, you will have achieved something that money can’t buy and too few people can claim.”