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  • Writer's picturePam Gaskill

Phil Hewett, POA President, personifies strategic thinking

Phil Hewett, POA President, stands in front of the new mural in The Pointe Restaurant.

Our POA President, Phil Hewett, is not one to remain idle, a fact that became very clear when we played phone tag for several days, trying to find an hour to sit down for an interview. Once the interview happened, it became apparent that our community is blessed with a leader with a total package of energy, experience, and passion focused on making Fairfield Harbour a better place for all of us now and in the future.

Our meeting at The Pointe Restaurant for our interview is a case in point. I was admiring the beautiful new appointments without realizing the extent to which Phil had been involved in making them happen. The lovely mural across the back wall consists of five 10-foot-long panels of photographs of our area, with "the point" area as the central focus. Phil explained that he had solicited FH resident and photojournalist Allen Fairbanks to go out in Phil's boat with him and take the photos. Allen is known for his incredible photography and ability to incorporate multiple shots into noteworthy productions, and this mural is a perfect example of his expertise. Not only was Phil directly involved in procuring the photos, but he personally helped to hang the mural and the wavy baffles across the ceiling that bring to mind clouds and waves. He spent weeks working to make it all come to life. Add the new blue carpet with movement to represent water, plus new plantation blinds, and the entire room takes on an appealing ambiance, all at a savings of tens of thousands of dollars because Phil and others were willing to put in hours of physical volunteer work. According to Phil, "This is what we can do when we put our minds to it." Wow!

A recent enhancement of The Pointe is adding community artists' work around the room. Fairfield artists were invited to display their work, but it wasn't just a "come and hang up some of your stuff" invitation. Phil greeted the artists, had already ordered and prepared cable-style hanging systems on the walls, had contracts for the artists to sign so 10% of any sales proceeds would go back to the community, and instituted a three-month rotation cycle. This project allows Fairfield Harbour artists to display and sell their work, beautifies and brings interest to the room, and even provides a possible income revenue for our community. The Pointe is an excellent example of what Phil's leadership skills and energy have made happen in the past months.

When asked why he decided to run for the Board a year and a year-and-a-half ago, Phil explained, "I love this community and want to see it grow to its full potential. It's unique and special where we are and what we have to offer."

Fortunately, this passion for our area is bolstered by his unusual set of experiences and energy, a combination not always present in volunteer leaders. First, he retired at age 55 and just recently turned 60, so he brings relative youth to the position. Second, his career in the health care/medical industry involved growing companies in the Mid-Atlantic area to a $42 million territory. He explained that his work in the Harbour approximates 80% of what he used to do. His previous career focused on making companies "functional and profitable for years to come." That is precisely the business model he has brought to his position as President of the Board in the past six months.

He sees his role as similar to the CEO of a company, making sure the financials are in order, giving people the tools to achieve their goals, and looking ahead about five years with strategic planning.

After listening to Phil talk, it is apparent that he personifies strategic thinking on steroids. He said we are in a stronger position than ever, with increasing sales and trends. Fairfield Harbour was voted number one in sales and new construction in the area last year, making it the number one community in New Bern. Rather than having the proceeds go into the general fund for operational expenses, a separate general ledger account was developed for future capital investments. That resulted in the community's ability to purchase the property on the corner of Broad Creek Road and Route 55 that can be used to advertise our business activities, i.e., the golf course and restaurant. The goal is to create a revenue stream by leasing the property as New Bern's growth continues to explode over the next ten years. This is just one example of some of the ideas that are churning in his head.

The POA is now in a cycle where we can begin to do larger projects and focus more on development and not just management. So much has already happened in the first six months of his tenure. Last month's Beacon published a list of many of these accomplishments.

As a competent problem solver, Phil reorganized the Directors according to their skill sets upon taking the reins of the POA Board. Now each Director has a particular area of expertise for which they are responsible. Over the following months, the Beacon will focus on each one of those Board members and their assignments. Fortunately for the Board members, their meetings are now once a month and more streamlined, offering them more time to pursue their responsibilities.

No matter how hard, smart, or passionate leadership is, people always have questions, concerns, and conflicting ideas. Phil's response is this. "I love ideas. Bring them to me. I will do what I can to help you get your ideas to work, especially if you bring me a solution and are willing to assist." He suggests that anyone who wants to be part of the solution should join the appropriate committee. There is plenty of work to go around and the more people involved, the more we can accomplish.

Perhaps Phil's most meaningful words were, "This is my job. I love it!" and "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every single time." He stressed that everything the Board undertakes under his leadership is in-depth, well thought out, and with a "method to the madness." After spending an hour listening to his stories, plans, dreams, and musings, this interviewer left feeling exhausted by the energy level he displayed but confident that Fairfield Harbour is in excellent hands for now and in the future.

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