At Dunlop Tire Corp., he acted as a problem-solver, the man who knew what actions to take to turn around an ailing company's financial health.
Today, P. David Campbell, former Dunlop president, continues to find financial solutions and do strategic planning-but this time as executive pastor of a growing church in Buffalo. Since retiring from Dunlop in 2001, Mr. Campbell now oversees the administrative and operational functions of The Chapel in Buffalo, a congregation of roughly 3,000, and is coordinating the construction of a 128,000-sq.-ft. building for the non-denominational church.
``I was 55 years old when I left (Dunlop). It was not time to retire,'' he told Tire Business. ``People still ask, `Oh, are you retired from Dunlop?' I just say, `No, I just moved into a new career.' ''
Mr. Campbell, who started with Dunlop in 1969 at its Huntsville, Ala., plant, served in various management positions until becoming president/CEO in 1995-a time when the tire maker was suffering financially. Under his leadership, the company cut costs, became profitable and eventually was acquired by Goodyear in 1999.
Although his title now is pastor, Mr. Campbell doesn't preach but is part of a pastoral staff of nine: he reports to a senior pastor and has eight associate pastors reporting to him. In a typical day Mr. Campbell will meet with the church's technical crew on sight, sound, TV and lighting issues. He reviews and manages personnel matters; meets with financial investors the church is trying to sell bonds to for its construction project; reviews the church's financial reports and budget; receives price quotes from plumbers and other contractors; and counsels businessmen on Tuesday nights.
Mr. Campbell explained that his position is similar to his former duties at Dunlop. The church, he said, needs to comply with labor laws and have an organizational structure that places the right people in the right positions, just like a business.
``In business, you're always looking at what's the most cost-effective way to do things,'' he said. ``It's the same thing here. We're stewards of the money that the congregants give us, and we should use that money effectively in our ministries.''
In his spare time, he is working on his master's degree in theology via an Internet ``long distance learning'' degree program he started over a year ago through Evangel Christian University of America. Hoping to complete his degree by this spring, he plans to write his thesis on the leadership traits Jesus demonstrated.
Mr. Campbell's career move into ministry began in 2000 when he said he began to feel a growing inner restlessness. He became a Christian in 1987 at age 41 and said that from that point on, he wanted to honor God with his work.
Although he had worked for Dunlop for 32 years and was at the pinnacle of his career, he knew that spending the next five years of his life in the tire business was not his heart's desire.
``It was, what I believe, God telling me to step out of that arena and into a ministerial arena,'' Mr. Campbell said. ``It wasn't a dissatisfaction with the job or the company, it was just a situation that felt like that's not what I'm supposed to be doing at this time in my life.''
Mr. Campbell said that although being a CEO was a ``wonderful experience,'' he felt God wanted him to focus his talents and energies in a new direction. He wasn't sure exactly what that was until he decided to step out in faith.
So, after retiring from Dunlop, Mr. Campbell began a consulting firm called Integrity Enterprises to help churches and non-profit Christian organizations solve various problems dealing with finances, human resources, marketing and strategic planning, to name a few. Half of his clients were businesses, which he said served to help pay the bills.
One of the churches he worked with was his own-The Chapel-which at the time was evaluating an expansion of its facilities to accommodate an annual attendance growth rate of 10 to 15 percent.
However, the church decided instead that a major relocation was needed for its long-term growth, and two years ago it asked Mr. Campbell to work full time to oversee the building project and operations.
``That was not an easy decision for me,'' he admitted. ``Number one, it changed everything about how I operated in my home church. Now, all of a sudden, I have a job at the church, so to speak.... It really became clear here that there was a need and that I should be the one to help them. So I came on board as the executive pastor.''
Since then, the church has begun its $18 million building project, and the foundation for the new building is being laid. When completed, the church-which since January has seen its attendance rise more than 10 percent-will have a seating capacity of 2,600.
``I love every bit of it,'' he said, referring to his pastoral duties. ``I really believe that the experience God gave me, he gave it to me for this reason, not for anything else.''
Mr. Campbell admitted that after the church relocates, he's not sure what he will do next. But he said he is excited to be impacting lives now and preparing the church for the future.
``Here, I really do have more of an eternal outlook on things,'' he said. ``We deal with people in need all the time. We're an open door. I could be counseling as soon as I hang the phone up. I'm right where I'm supposed to be at this time.''