Buck Mickel | Legacy of Leadership Profile

Buck Mickel (1925–1998)

Buck Mickel, retired chairman of Daniel International Corporation and retired vice chairman and president of Fluor Corporation, was respected as a giant in the Greenville community and the world of commerce, but he was an even bigger person when it came to helping others. Friends and acquaintances remember him as a thoughtful and generous person, an outstanding leader, and a willing mentor to those who sought his counsel.    

He played a major role in Greenville's development for 40 years, pushing for the construction of the Hyatt Regency hotel, the Bi-Lo Center, and the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts in downtown Greenville. In addition to his numerous civic projects, Mickel was a champion of education at all levels, and he and his family shared a special relationship with Furman University.

Mickel, his wife, Minor, and his family made significant contributions to Furman. They provided the lead gifts toward construction of the Minor Herndon Mickel Tennis Center and also contributed to Timmons Arena, Richard W. Riley Hall, and John E. Johns Hall. They also created Furman's first Presidential Scholarship. In 1999, Minor Mickel completed her third term on the Furman University Board of Trustees.    

An engineer and builder, Mickel assumed the leadership of Daniel Construction Company in 1965, later renamed the business Daniel International Corporation, and provided the guidance that led to Daniel's phenomenal growth in both domestic and foreign markets.

Mickel considered his responsibility at Daniel as an "obligation and legacy" left by the late Charles E. Daniel, whose Daniel Construction Company brought hundreds of companies to South Carolina and the South and built 400 plants for them. Mickel, Daniel's nephew by marriage, was much a part of that chapter in Daniel's history, and while he carried on in the same Daniel tradition of superior performance and service, his own perspective was global.

Mickel was born December 17, 1925, in Elberton, Georgia, the son of Charles Clark and Reba Vaughn Mickel. He graduated from Elberton High School in 1942 as valedictorian of his class. His subsequent studies at Georgia Institute of Technology were interrupted by World War II, during which he was a cadet midshipman in the United States Maritime Academy and served in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Mediterranean theaters. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1947 with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.    

Mickel was recalled to active military duty during the Korean War and served for three years as a first lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers, with duty in the European Theater.

He began his career with Daniel Construction Company in 1948 and worked his way through the ranks. He was named vice president in 1960, president and general manager in 1965, and chairman in 1972.

In 1977, Fluor Corporation acquired Daniel, and Mickel was named to an expanded Fluor board of directors. Later, he was named a Fluor group vice president. At the same time, he was named chairman of the Daniel International board and president of Daniel International. In January 1986, he relinquished the office of president in keeping with his practice of moving younger executives to positions of increasing responsibility, and on March 31, 1987, he retired from executive positions with Fluor and Daniel. He retired from the Fluor Board of Directors on January 7, 1998.   

Through the years, Mickel served as a director of nearly 40 businesses, among them Duke Power Company, The Liberty Corporation, Monsanto Company, J.P. Stevens & Company, Delta Woodside Industries, Insignia Financial Group, NationsBank, Cox Cable Communications, CSX Corporation, Graniteville Company, Seaboard Coast Line Railroad, Dunlop Tire & Rubber Company, and National Intergroup.   

He was also a director of the Export–Import Bank, the Federal Trade Commission, and Textile Hall Corporation, and was a trustee of Brookgreen Gardens.

He was a life trustee of Clemson University and Converse College and served as a trustee of Georgia Institute of Technology, Wofford College, and Presbyterian College. He was a trustee of The Citadel Development Foundation and the Georgia Tech Foundation. He received Clemson's Institutional Advancement Award in 1986 and its Gold Medallion in 1991.

Mickel served on the advisory boards of the South Carolina Foundation of Independent Colleges, the University of South Carolina College of Business Administration, and the South Carolina Research AuthorityHe received honorary doctoral degrees from Wofford College, Coastal Carolina University, and Erskine College. Wofford College presented him with its Citizen of the Year Award in 1978, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce named him its Businessman of the Year in 1983. Governors James B. Edwards and David M. Beasley awarded him the Order of the Palmetto.

Mickel was a founder of several South Carolina businesses, among them U.S. Shelter Corporation and RSI Holdings, Inc. He was chairman and chief executive officer of RSI Holdings from 1978 until his death in 1998.

He and his wife, the former Minor Herndon of Elberton, Georgia, were married May 2, 1946, and were the parents of three children, Minor Mickel Shaw, Buck Alston Mickel, and Charles Clark Mickel.

Buck Mickel died July 23, 1998.

He was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 1986.   

© 1999 South Carolina Business Hall of Fame