November 1 1987 by Chief Executive
JOHN J. CREEDON
To John Creedon, CEO of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, his firm’s slogan, `Get Met, It Pays,’ is more than an advertising tag line. It’s one way he is “keeping the name of the company in front of people.” Creedon wants to sell more policies, while educating his clients about health issues, he says. The company plans to build on that effort when it breaks ground in early 1988 at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center for the construction of a 100,000 sq.-ft., gold-domed pavilion tentatively called, Life and Health. “We’ve had a tradition here in the company for 100 years [of] being involved in health education and to a certain extent this is a continuation of that tradition in a different setting, one in which the primary factor is entertainment as well as education, so it is kind of exciting,” said Creedon, commenting on his firm’s joint venture with Disney.
Creedon began his career with Met Life as a mail clerk earning $15 a week. After serving in the U.S. Navy and attending college and law school, he returned to the Company in 1955 to join its legal staff and advance to the position of senior vice president and general counsel in 1973. That may explain why Disney’s CEO, Michael Eisner, says Creedon personally inspects every sentence of every document pertaining to the project. According to Eisner, Creedon himself, wrote the contract cementing the joint agreement. “I know nothing about the insurance business,” admits Eisner, except what he may have learned from his wife, who, coincidentally, was working as a computer programmer at Met Life when he met her.
To be located between GE’s Horizons and Exxon’s Universe of Energy, Met Life’s structure will stand 60-ft. high and house three high-tech attractions designed by Disney imagineers, and exhibits on the leading-edge developments in health sciences. Neither Creedon or Eisner will reveal how much the pavilion will cost the two companies, but Creedon says that among the Epcot pavilions, Met Life’s “will be the most interesting, exciting, educational exhibit there.”
Since 1871, Met Life has been active in projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of its policyholders-everything from a cookbook on good eating habits to a television program about AIDS.
Met Life’s total revenues from 1986 were a cool $20.8 billion. Does Creedon think the exposure the pavilion will provide will help close the gap between Met Life and the industry leader Prudential?
“This is a fantastic opportunity to help educate people a bit and entertain them and have them identify with Metropolitan Life,” said the 63year-old Creedon. Last year alone more than 25 million people visited Disney’s Epcot Center. That’s a lot of identifiers.
DELBERT C. “BUD” STALEY
To say a modern-day world without telephones would be a disaster is almost nonsensical. Picture a day on Wall Street with no phones. Nowadays, when the boss tells his secretary to reach him at his briefcase phone, it may sound a bit absurd, but mobile cellular phones are big business. Among the cellular phone companies, NYNEX Mobile is ranked among the top 10 in the U.S. The most popular style is the car phone, though totally mobile cellular phones are on the rise and NYNEX is part of the movement.
Bud Staley, CEO of NYNEX-New York/New England, and the X is for the future getsa kick out of hearing about individuals who use cellular phones in unique ways: one Manhattan push-cart vendor uses his cellular phone to take orders for his tacos. It seems his are so popular with the lunchtime business crowd, that he takes orders ahead of time so customers don’t have to wait on line. From the farmer in Albany NY, to the Manhattan real estate broker, cellular phones are on the move, literally.
NYNEX first started selling cellular sets for about $3,000. Prices today start at about $1,200 plus an installation charge and an average monthly service charge of $150. Customers also pay for every call they receive. Regardless of the enormous operating costs, cellular phone service jumped eightfold from 1984 to 1986, to $600 million. NYNEX-the best performing of the seven regional Bell operating companies-says its current 60,000-customer cellular business is profitable and growing at 30 percent a year. The Cellular Phone Industry Assn. predicts that by the end of 1987, more than 1 million Americans will have mobile phones.
Staley admits that few can afford to keep a cellular phone and those who do are usually successful business people. He says he personally feels cellular phones are “somewhat of a luxury.”
For Staley, who earns nearly $1 million a year as CEO to some 92,000 employees-that’s about $11,000 per employee, per year-$1,200 is a small price to pay. What does this mean? Nothing really. It just makes for an interesting statistic about a man who survived the breakup of AT&T to successfully head the most profitable of the seven regional Bell operating companies-and all this with no formal education to rest upon.
What will the telephone look like, perform like, in the year 2000? “It’s going to have the ability to handle voice, data and image,” says Staley. Look out James Bond…Bud Staley’s developing the phone of the future.
VINCENT C. WASIK
In January 1987, Vincent Wasik became CEO of National Car Rental System, Inc., after investors, including Fidel-co Capital Group, of which Wasik is co-founder and president, “raided” and bought it for a cool $1.6 billion from Household International.
Wasik has introduced several “firsts” to National and to the highly competitive car rental industry: Classic Cars, The Emerald Club (a frequent-user program), and Paper-Less Express (a mini rental form he says will reduce check-in time). He put cellular phones into nearly all of his fleet and created a new corporate logo. Wasik hopes this will make National the market leader. (Hertz is number one, Avis, number two and National, three.) “I think it’s going to be extremely difficult for Hertz [to compete with us]” says Wasik, “because they didn’t invest in the technological systems in the ’70s that National did. I look at Hertz as the GM of the car rental industry.”
Time will tell if he’s right. Since 1947, National has enjoyed a worldwide third ranking and is the official rental car of both Disneyland and World. About 80 percent of its business is corporate, and Wasik would like CEOs to give up limos and drive his cars.