Saturday, March 14, 2009
Bill Davidson; Piston's Owner Dies at 86
Bill Davidson, the Detroit Pistons Basketball team owner died yesterday, March 13, 2009. He wasn't a flashy team owner. He never appeared on a reality show or sought the spotlight. Mr. Davidson loved sports and the Pistons were his baby - his pride and joy.
Let's be clear, Bill Davidson was a very smart business man. He rescued a wholesale drug company from bankruptcy in just three years. Three years! He followed this remarkable accomplishment by repeating his efforts with a surgical supply company. Then, this talented man took the family business, Guardian Glass, and made it debt-free. You know Guardian Glass. They are a huge player in the float glass industry. Automobile window shields use this type of glass, so do storm doors. Add glass insulation for homes and businesses to the mix and you'll understand the scope of the family business.
That's three championships under Mr. Davidson's belt before he purchased the Pistons. Before he owned the Shock, the Vipers, the Neon, and a host of other teams. He was pretty good at managing people and understanding business law. You could say that.
Not many people know that the Piston's owner was an athlete himself. He was inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. He ran track and played football.
He was also a lawyer that knew how to negotiate a contract. Bill Davidson knew a good deal when he saw one. He believed in hiring talented people and letting them do their job. I worked for the Palace of Auburn Hills at one time and I seem to recall that he also liked to hire nice people. I can't remember any information or memo that crossed my desk about this, but it's a memory that I have of the man. Yet, I never met him in person.
It was a unique organization in that it offered vision benefits within 30 days of your hire date. I always suspected that we had the same benefits as the players received. Again, I have nothing in concrete to substantiate my claim. This small gesture, this small benefit made a world of difference to me. Not many companies offered vision, dental and health benefits outside of the Big Three automotive group. Bill Davidson made certain his employees were taken care of so they could do the best possible job for him and his organization.
I am grateful for Mr. Davidson's contributions to sports, entertainment, education and the business community and wish his family peace at his passing. The world of sports lost a leader and gentleman.