Maurice Benfield Phillips
Maurice Benfield Phillips
Year Inducted: 2017
Maurice Benfield “Ben” Phillips was raised in the Fairplains Community and moved to North Wilkesboro when a freshman at Wilkes Central High School (WCHS). While attending WCHS, he excelled in sports, lettering in football all four years as quarterback and defensive back, wrestling, track, and basketball. He was a member of the Student Council for four years, and Monogram Club for three years.
Phillips attended North Carolina State University where he was Class President his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was a member Sigma Nu Fraternity; Golden Chain, a Senior Honorary Society; Blue Key National Honor Fraternity; and was the Graduation Class Spokes Person.
Upon graduation from NCSU, he worked for Alcoa Aluminum Company for four years before returning home to help with the family business, Phillips Tire Service. In 1969, Mr. Johnny Walker walked in and asked if he would be interested in working for Lowe’s.
Phillips then began a career with Lowe’s spanning 20 years. He served as Marketing Manager, VP of Marketing in 1972, VP of Professional Sales in 1974, Regional VP in 1975 and VP of Corporate Professional Sales in 1979.
Phillips was a member of the Rotary Club, serving on several committees which to led the establishment of the Interact Club at WCHS. He also served on the Oakwoods Country Club board. Phillips was one of the ve investors and developers of Wood eld Community, which established the rst PUD zoning regulations for Wilkes County.
In 1981, Phillips graduated from the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development.
From 1970 to 2010, Phillips was involved with the Home Builders Association, serving as State Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Chairman, Convention Chairman, as well as State Associate of the Year. His involvement with the National Home Builders Association resulted in being honored in 1978 with the National BIG SPIKE award, for the most new members in the U.S. In 1983 he was named National Association Member of the Year, and in 1995 as the Research Center Chairman for the US/Russian Housing Committee.
In 1989, Phillips transitioned from Wilkes County to become CEO of building material distributor, Pelican Companies, focused on Professional Customers. While Phillips was CEO, Pelican grew from $70 million revenue to a $550 million annual revenue company. In 2001, the company was sold to Builders First Source with Phillips becoming the CEO of the southeast division.
In 2004, backed by Devonshire Investors, privately owned by Fidelity Investments, Phillips helped lead the acquisition of Lowes’s Contractor Yards, a division of Lowe’s Companies, and became the CEO. The company grew and became a regional chain of building supply distribution yards exceeding revenues of $800 million. In 2007 the company combined through acquisitions to create ProBuild, the rst national chain of LBM Centers with revenue of $6 billion and over 20,000 employees. Phillips rose to Director, Executive Committee member, COO and in 2010, Chairman of ProBuild.
From his youth in Fairplains and through each professional position, Phillips continued to keep a sense of humor and positive attitude. He believed in treating people fairly, searching for each individual’s unique genius, listening and helping people succeed.