|Campus Crest officials with Raymond|
James advisors who helped construct
a $380-million IPO
What does it take to be a CEO? Does it require a form of tunnel vision that is at odds with the real world? We are starting to think the answer is yes.
Consider Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities and a member of one of America's wealthiest families. Rollins' company completed a $380-million IPO in late 2010, so he has proven adept at attracting investors. But we have seen troubling signs that Rollins holds a peculiar worldview, one where laws and fundamental concepts of right and wrong don't apply to him.
Now we see evidence that Rollins seemingly is able to block out evidence that key members of his team behave in a despicable manner. Is this the kind of "vision" one must possess in order to be a chief executive?
The Ted Rollins story hits home here in Alabama for a couple of reasons. We first became aware of Rollins because of his involvement in a divorce case that is astounding for the unlawful manner in which it was conducted. Sherry Carroll Rollins had filed for divorce from Ted Rollins in Greenville, South Carolina, where the couple and their two daughters lived. When Ted Rollins ignored a court order to pay the mortgage and insurance on the family home, Sherry Rollins and the children were kicked out of the house and forced to flee to Alabama, where they had relatives. Ted Rollins then proceeded to sue for divorce in Alabama, even though jurisdiction already had been established in another state and, by law, could not be changed. Ted Rollins, it turns out, does business with the prominent Birmingham law firm of Bradley Arant, and a Shelby County Judge named D. Al Crowson issued a divorce order that was stunningly unlawful and favorable to Ted Rollins, granting Sherry Rollins only $1,315 a month ($815 in support for two children and $500 in alimony).
Ted Rollins' family has deep ties to prominent Republican political figures, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Did Rollins use such ties to help apply a monstrous cheat job on his children and ex wife? Sure looks that way from here.
Rollins developed even deeper ties in Alabama with the recent announcement that Campus Crest Communities plans to build a $26.3 million student-housing project at Auburn University. So the people of our state have good reason to ask, "What's this guy all about? What makes him tick?"
A recent article on Campus Crest Communities, published at The Wall Street Transcript and Yahoo! Finance, provides some insight. Asked to discuss members of his leadership team, Rollins speaks glowingly about a man named Brian Sharpe. From the full version of the interview at Yahoo! Finance:
And then we have Brian Sharpe, who heads our construction company and makes the magic happen out in the field. He has, year after year, designed and improved our projects. He is the reason we have such great projects--anything from the details of the design, to integrating with our operations team to make our projects better every year, to actually delivering the projects each year. He is very passionate about what he does.
Sounds like Ted Rollins is pretty high on Brian Sharpe. But does that fit with reality?
Several current and former employees have filed federal lawsuits, alleging that Campus Crest practices rampant race and gender discrimination. Brian Sharpe appears to be in the middle of it. From a complaint filed by a former area manager named Nicole McAuliffe:
Sharpe, on a frequent and/or daily basis, used the term “fuck” and “fucking,” in his verbal communications in the workplace. Sharpe further referred to women in the office as “cunts,” “bitches” and “whores” and referred to Defendant’s marketing team as the “whore’s den.” On more than one occasion, Sharpe, in the presence of Plaintiff and others, referred to Shannon King as a “cunt.” On another occasion, while on the corporate jet with Sharpe and others, Sharpe made derogatory and misogynistic remarks about Heather McCormack, Defendant’s Vice-President of Administrative Operations, calling her a “fucking bitch” and threatening to “rip her fucking head off.”
Ted Rollins says Sharpe is "passionate about what he does." Reality seems to tell us that Sharpe is passionate about calling women "cunts," "bitches," and "whores." His passion also drives him to openly state, in regards to one particular woman, that he wants to "rip her fucking head off."
A reasonable person might decide that Brian Sharpe's "passion" is a little out of control. But not Ted Rollins.
He tells us that Sharpe is responsible for the design of Campus Crest's properties. Does that mean Sharpe was responsible for the "decorative" balcony that collapsed at The Grove complex near the University of North Texas? If so, how good of a designer is Mr. Sharpe? The three young men who went to the hospital after the balcony collapse probably would like to know.
Is Ted Rollins "out to lunch" on important matters inside his company? And how does Rollins himself treat women, based on his actions toward Sherry Rollins and the couple's two daughters?
A lot of folks have invested serious cash in Campus Crest Communities. Vivek "Vick" Seth, managing partner at Raymond James, helped put together the Campus Crest IPO. Did Vick Seth conduct any sort of due diligence before striking a deal that heaped money on Ted Rollins and his "leadership team"?
Whatever Seth did, maybe it wasn't enough. We can think of about 380 million reasons that the public deserves some straight answers from Ted Rollins.