David Furr (’80, ’82) credits Wake Forest for much of his journey from NASCAR to Europe
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Office of Communications and Public Relations
March 14, 2013
When he was growing up in southern Mecklenburg County, David Furr had two choices – get educated or stay on the farm.
After attending a Boys State program on the Wake Forest University campus, Furr (’80, ’82) fell in love with the campus. He chose Wake Forest as the place where he would receive his education.
As a partner in Gray, Layton, Kersh, Solomon, Furr & Smith, P.A. in Gastonia, Furr’s career has taken him from NASCAR’s pits to business ventures in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. He credits Wake Forest for much of that journey, and he has worked to see that others have the same chances.
“Wake Forest teaches you to dream, to think big and to really believe in yourself,” Furr said. “You have to return some of what you’ve been given. I want to make sure there’s someone else out there who has the opportunities I did, because it’s been fabulous.”
Furr has made a leadership commitment to the building campaign and set up a scholarship at the School of Law for first-generation students who have an interest in business law.
The transformation of the Worrell Center is crucial to the School of Law’s success in attracting the best and brightest students.
“If you want to be a top law school, you have to have the best professors and you have to look like the best law school,” he said.
As the former outside counsel to Dale Earnhardt, Furr also puts it in more down-to-earth terms: “If you want to look like a Cadillac, you can’t have a Kia body.”
For the former farm boy, Wake Forest opened up new worlds. The foundation that Professors Joel Newman, David Shores and Don Castleman laid in tax and business law classes, served Furr well when he earned a masters degree in taxation from the University of Florida.
After graduation from Wake Forest, a chance meeting led Furr to Dale Earnhardt. “Everybody needs a break and that was mine,” he said. “It was one of those wonderful experiences that you hope for in life.”
Furr describes Earnhardt as a genuine man whose family and fans were the two most important things in his life. During the 10 years that he was associated with Earnhardt, Furr was also one of the early advisers/financiers of Action Performance Company, a company that gave drivers a professional market for their merchandise. The company did $16 million in sales its first year. By the time the company was sold, the business was worth more than $500 million.
When TARP was passed in 2008, Furr partnered with Capgemini, a French firm based in Paris that provides consulting, technology and outsourcing services. That partnership, now in its fifth year, resulted in Capgemini opening an office in Charlotte in 2011.
“I decided I could become part of the solution rather than be frightened like everyone else,” he said.
Furr credits Wake Forest’s pro humanitate mission as driving his many opportunities in life.
“The Wake Forest experience and its Pro Humanitate focus has instilled in me a sense of global understanding of this small place we call our planet,” he said. “Whether it has been a business deal or a humanitarian cause, I have been able to experience a full and successful life with clients and business partners from all continents.”