“It was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work”
Learning how to throw the perfect free throw or waking up before dawn to milk the cows —those are the stepping stones to success, according to Dewey Andrew.
Before he owned and operated a long list of successful businesses, Andrew, like most of us, was just trying to do the best with what he had. His childhood was marked with early mornings and late nights on the family farm. He admits his family didn’t have much wealth, but what they did have was a strong work ethic — and that, Andrew said, is worth much more than dollars and cents.
“We had no idea we were poor,” Andrew said with a laugh when recalling his upbringing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Andrew was one of four boys and each sibling, he said, took turns helping their father out on the farm — which Andrew describes as “one of the most beautiful areas you could grow up in.”
“It was a great life,” Andrew said, adding that, in many ways, he unknowingly took cues from his parents’ work ethic to pave the way for his future success.
After graduating high school, Andrew attended Elon University on a basketball scholarship. Juggling athletics and academics, he said, played a pivotal role in his development as a business leader.
“I think that growing up doing athletics, the greatest thing you learn, is how to be unsuccessful,” he said. “You learn how to pick yourself up again and get back out there when things don’t work out or go as planned.”
Don’t let Andrew’s humility fool you into thinking he lacks a successful resume, however. While graduating with honors in mathematics, Andrew also became an All-American and garnered a long list of scoring records and other accolades for the school. He is also a member of Elon’s Hall of Fame and still holds several records that haven’t been touched since his time playing ball.
After playing basketball at the college level and studying at UNC Chapel Hill while also serving as a graduate assistant basketball coach, Andrew traveled to Europe to continue his career on the court. He was one of the first 12 Americans to play on the Italian professional league. At the time, he also had a wife and a growing family, too. He was only 24 years old.
“It was a very interesting time and an interesting experience” he said. “It was a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work.”
In the midst of global upheaval (this was the era of the Iron Curtain, Andrew pointed out), Andrew found himself taking in the world with an open mind, and slowly building the foundation for what would become a fruitful and successful future. After leaving Europe and returning to the states, he quickly began to establish himself as a smart and savvy businessman with plenty of ambition.
“If you’re on a team, you go through a structured process,” Andrew said of the lessons he learned through athletics. “You don’t just go out there and throw (the ball) up, you have to learn how to organize and get things done on a timely basis, and in teaching and coaching you have to organize yourself and a team.”
After hanging up his jersey for good, Andrew went to work in sales. He soon climbed the rungs of the hiring hierarchy, however, and became the founder, or owner, in some cases, of multiple businesses spanning several industries such as restaurant equipment, beverage wholesale, banking, golf, hotel development, banking and real estate.
“No matter what you do, there’s always luck involved,” Andrew said. “And most of the times you create your own luck with hard work and good ideas.”
Today, while Andrew isn’t quite as busy, he said he still keeps his plate full.
“I’m starting to slow down,” he admitted with a smile. “I have 3 kids and 9 grandkids — I’m very fortunate.”