1996 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"There is a direct relationship between effort expended and reward received."
Henry Tippie was born in 1927 on a dairy farm near Belle Plaine, Iowa. From the time he was a toddler, he was expected to help with the business, including milking the cows and helping his father with deliveries. As a preschooler, he scrambled in and out of their old pick-up truck carrying milk to houses. They were required to milk the cows twice a day, seven days a week, which made it impossible for the family to ever get away from the farm. For all their labor, they earned 5 to 10 cents on each quart of milk.
By the time Tippie was 11, milk had to be pasteurized to be sold commercially. Since the equipment to do that process was too expensive, his family began raising pigs and cattle. At the time, prices were low for these commodities and they were able only to earn an existence. Often, Tippie and his father hired themselves out to neighbors to earn extra money. Still, Tippie believed he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up. His mother, on the other hand, had different plans. She wanted more for him, beginning with an education.
Tippie attended the same one-room schoolhouse his father attended through the eighth grade, which was as far as his father got with his education. As soon as Tippie graduated from high school, he entered the Army Air Force. He served as a staff sergeant with the 20th Air Force in the South Pacific during World War II, an experience that exposed him to a world he never knew existed. When he was released from service, Tippie entered the University of Iowa in Iowa City with the help of the GI Bill. The University of Iowa College of Business has since been renamed The Henry B. Tippie College of Business. He earned a B.S.C. degree with a major in accounting, but had a difficult time finding a job. At one point, he was earning $175 a month and living in a shared room at the YMCA in Des Moines. Finally, he ran an ad in the Journal of Accounting and received a reply from John W. Rollins and Associates in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
At the time, the Rollins operation had four small auto agencies and three small radio stations, plus they were just launching their leasing operation. Tippie soon became an integral part of the business, working first as a controller and then running the daily activities of the leasing division. In 1964, he played a major role in acquiring the Orkin Exterminating Company. The deal became a Harvard Business School case study because it represented one of the first leveraged buyouts of a major corporation by a small company.
Henry Tippie has spent more than 50 years with Rollins and served as the chairman of the Executive Committee and as chairman of the Board of Rollins Truck Leasing Corp. He also served in many other senior capacities with the various Rollins operations. Today, he is Chairman of the Board for Dover Motorsports, Inc. and Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment, Inc. and the presiding Director for Rollins Inc.