Industry Loses Another Pioneer with Passing of Vivian Hollinshed
Editor’s Note: The industry lost one of its pioneers last week, Mr. Vivian Hollinshed, Jr. In tribute, Joe Kannapell, a longtime friend and senior vice president sales for MiTek, shares his memories of Vivian below and how he impacted the truss industry in so many ways. Another close friend, Chuck Rogers with Builders FirstSource, also shared how Vivian impacted his life and career in the truss industry. At the bottom the page you will find Vivian’s obituary.
Vivian Hollinshed, R.I.P.
By Joe Kannapell
Early on, at his father’s Cape Fear Building Supply in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Vivian Hollinshed, foresaw the need to separate, literally with a fence, the truss business, newly named Comtech, from the lumber business. Vivian’s late brother Joe, and later Vivian’s son Tom, managed the lumber yard next door as an independent entity. When Stock Building Supply offered to buy both businesses, but settled for the lumber yard, Comtech continued to prosper, and Tom took over the truss plant.
This magnificent man named Vivian, crafted countless fine homes and innovative commercial buildings, over his 55 active years, on the small drafting board behind his desk. Not one of the fathers of our industry did more truss design work than Vivian. All the while pioneering trusses in a stick framed market, and building an outstanding business.
Entering the lobby of Comtech you’d see Vivian bent over a design challenge, through the glass walls of his office. When he spotted you, he’d flash his wry smile and he’d summon a witty quip from his brilliant mind. If you asked Vivian for a truss price, he’d tell you to place your request in the larger of two stacks. When asked why not the smaller stack, Vivian would remark, “Those plans don’t need bids.” As a further testament to his design acumen, if the foundation on the plans was inadequate, Vivian would redesign it. As an indication of his passion for accuracy, he’d perform the final QC check while his trusses were on the delivery trailer.
We have lost an industry founder. Fortunately, he is survived by a fine son, Tom Hollinshed. Tom has taken Comtech to new heights under the watchful eye of his father. Tom revamped, enlarged, and automated his plant. He incented his design staff and conquered new markets. Tom greatly contributed to our industry as a founding member of the North Carolina SBCA Chapter. He collaborated closely with state code officials and developed the data, with Jack Parker and Kirk Grundahl, that freed truss designers of a code dictate that attempted to impose wall design responsibility on our industry.
Vivian’s legacy endures most powerfully in the employees he nurtured and mentored. John Freeman, Carol Dees and Chuck Rogers are just three of those who he powerfully influenced.
As Vivian has left us far too early, I am reminded of his playful humor at a time he had to leave the office early, when Vivian said, “He had to go see a sick aunt.”
I loved and revered the man. It was a great honor to know him and serve him.
Working for Vivian Changed My Life
By Chuck Rogers
Vivian hired me when I had no applicable skills and gave me a career in an industry that I never even knew existed.
I had been a linguist for the government for 14 years and was struggling to house and feed a large family back in my home town. I had no marketable skills. Vivian told a friend of his that he wished he could find someone who knew nothing about trusses so that he could train them without having to un-train them.
He hired me cheap and gave me a chance. It was very difficult for me because I couldn't understand the concepts that were so basic to him. He taught me and yelled at me and taught me some more.
Vivian cared about people. He ran a meritocracy. If you worked really hard for him he recognized it. He gave me three raises in the first year plus a bonus. Over time, the understanding of trusses that he gave me pulled my family out of poverty.
Vivian's sense of humor made hard days better. Once he had figured out that you were a keeper he would pull you inside a smaller circle and you would get to see more of his personality. He was hard to work for and wonderful to work for. I have missed him a lot since I left. I have never worked for anyone who I respected as much.
Vivan Edward Hollinshed, Jr. Obituary
Vivian E. Hollinshed Jr. of Fayetteville died March 13, 2017. He was born on September 25, 1932 to Vivian E. Hollinshed Sr. and Mary Emma Rothwell Hollinshed of Fayetteville. He graduated from Fayetteville High School, Class of 1950, where he was a member of the band and the Highland Scottish Dancers. According to many of his classmates, he was a humanitarian, jokester, and dependable friend.
After graduation, he attended Clemson University, Wake Forest University, and North Carolina State University before returning to Fayetteville to work in the family business, Cape Fear Supply Company, then located on Russell St.
While attending NC State, he met Lorette Oglesby Hollinshed, who became his wife of 62 years. He designed and built their house in Vanstory Hills in 1958. He truly enjoyed providing assistance to anyone building anything, including the personal residences of both family and friends.
In 1969 he started the Comtech Division of Cape Fear Supply, specializing in engineered roof and floor trusses. He remained active with Comtech until the middle of 2016.
Vivian was an active member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for his entire adult life where he sang in the choir and served on the Vestry as Junior and Senior Warden.
One of Vivan’s most beloved places was Lake Waccamaw, NC, where he designed and built a house he shared with the Bryan family on Canal Cove Road. He raced Lightning sail boats and served as Commodore of the Lake Waccamaw Sailing Club. He also designed the Lake Waccamaw Sailing Club pavilion.
Vivian also enjoyed many happy years on Bald Head Island, NC, where he designed and built a home in 1995. He enjoyed fishing and supporting the Bald Head Island Conservancy, where he served on the Board of Directors.
Vivian was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Joseph H. Hollinshed. He is survived by his wife, Lorette Hollinshed; a daughter, Martha Hollinshed Fisher and husband, Mitchell; his son, Thomas Oglesby Hollinshed and Katherine Thompson Lange of Southern Pines, NC; grandchildren, Matthew Hollinshed Fisher and wife, Heather Relyea of Durham, Lillian Rochelle Fisher of Brooklyn, NY, Jacob Ross Lange of Charlotte and Sophia Katherine Lange of Manhattan, NY; and his sister in law, Marrianna B Hollinshed.
A memorial service was held Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 11:00 am at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Raeford Road in Fayetteville, NC.