West Lebanon Businessman Named PSU’s Outstanding Graduate Alumnus

June 2nd, 2008 by Adam

Phil Desmond, Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award winner, with daughter Caroline

PLYMOUTH, N.H.-Whether he’s building a successful business, raising money for a charity or playing drums in a band, Phil Desmond loves to be challenged. Desmond, who earned an MBA from PSU’s College of Graduate Studies in 2001, says the challenges presented to him at Plymouth have not only honed his business acumen, but helped him in every facet of his life.

“When the University called me to tell me about the award, I was stunned. And, frankly, I am still stunned,” said Desmond. “When I think of the many brilliant people I had in my classes, or have come to know at various PSU events, I am humbled to think that I was chosen for this award.”

Desmond grew up in Connecticut and earned a degree in microbiology from Central Connecticut State University. He began a 15-year sales career in medical laboratory equipment, where his territory included New Hampshire and Vermont. Eventually, he decided to strike out on his own, purchasing Brown Furniture in West Lebanon, N.H. in 1986.

“I wanted to be in business for myself,” recalls Desmond. ‘My wife, Linda, was an interior decorator, so we thought we could make it work.”

The challenge of taking over a business was complicated by the need to move it to a new location, as the building had been sold. Desmond also had the responsibility to find a location, design a building for a business he hardly knew, get permits and build a 17,000 square foot building. The entire project was completed in only six months.

Brown Furniture continued to grow in its new location. But, Phil knew he could do better, and realized he needed additional skills and knowledge.

“I have always found it stimulating to learn new things, to be challenged,” Desmond said. “I didn’t have that opportunity in the furniture business, so I thought Plymouth’s MBA program would do that for me.”

Desmond was right. The MBA program offered everything he needed, including invaluable ‘hands-on’ experience in working out problems. Small Business Institute Director Craig Zamzow said Desmond was a great student.

“He went into every course he took in the MBA looking for something to take back for the benefit of his business,” said Zamzow. “He is always willing to share his wisdom and experiences with students.”

“It seemed that every course in the MBA program required a project,” said Desmond. “As a small business owner, I used these as opportunities to work through important parts of my business and make the changes necessary to improve operations. These changes helped to grow the business.”

But while Desmond’s business prospered, his personal life faced a crisis, and another challenge.

“In 2003, my wife Linda was diagnosed with cancer,” recalled Desmond. “I became very involved with her care and with the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Despite her great care, Linda passed away in 2005. Shortly after that, I was asked to be on the board of the Friends of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. This organization puts on the Prouty Century Ride and Challenge Walk, the second-largest bicycling and walking fundraising event in New England. This year we hope to raise $2 million to be used locally to fight cancer.”

Desmond is also active in the Valley Bible Church, currently serving as an elder and playing drums with the worship team each week. Phil Desmond is an accomplished business leader and civic-minded community member who is quick to point out the value of education and challenging oneself to achieve personal and professional success.

“I hope other PSU grads will enjoy the process of academic rigor that is associated with getting a PSU MBA,” said Desmond. “It is a challenge that has great benefit and there are substantial benefits to applying the knowledge gained in the program. It has enriched my life.”

In photo at upper left, Phil Desmond received his Outstanding Graduate Alumni Award from his daughter, Caroline.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes