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Henry Hayes '70 Says Applying to Western New England "Was the Smartest Thing I've Ever Done"

By Kenneth Stratton '19 MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2019 - 3:06 PM WNE100

“Applying to Western New England was the smartest thing I’ve ever done,” said Henry Hayes ’70. The now-retired businessman reflected on the career he built after graduation, and credits much of his success to the University.

“What I learned there is what made my career,” Hayes said. In the late 1960s, the University was small – Hayes himself remembers only a handful of buildings being on Wilbraham Road – but even then, it was always growing.

“I’m happy to see it continue to grow and get bigger,” Hayes said. “I recommend it whenever I can,” said the devoted Golden Bear graduate of nearly 50 years.

Hayes started his academic career at Boston University, studying engineering. He realized it wasn’t what he wanted to do, so he made the switch and came back to Springfield, where he joined American International College before later transferring to Western New England.

At the time, Hayes had also been working for Milton Bradley, then in downtown Springfield, and the company paid a portion of his tuition. But that wasn’t the only perk to working for the now world-renowned toy company: Hayes and his wife served as the original models for Twister in the Milton Bradley catalog.

After graduation, Hayes would go to work for Spalding as tennis marketing manager out of their Chicopee, Massachusetts office. Soon after, he made the switch to Schick Razor, where he would work as the company’s director of marketing for injector blades.

“That became the dullest job I ever had – no pun intended,” Hayes said with a laugh. Luckily, Hayes was told about an opportunity to work with MacGregor Sporting Goods in Cincinnati, Ohio and he took it. MacGregor was owned by the Brunswick Corporation, a global leader in billiards and recreation. Soon Hayes advanced into an upper level position with the corporation, working in the consumer division of billiards and air hockey.

By 1981, Hayes decided to make it on his own, and established Dufferin, which would distribute billiard assets to companies in the United States, for other companies such as those in Canada and Belgium who produced cues and cloth respectively. As director of marketing and sales for the United States, where Hayes worked on contracts that sold products to retailers like Kmart, Sears, Walmart and others, and he saw Dufferin grow quickly.

The Western New England graduate also established the Hayes Company, which assisted in importing the product from overseas, getting it immediately in the hands of Dufferin. Hayes also found time to put on his inventor’s cap, developing “Freeze Alert” - a device that triggers when your home temperature drops below 45 degrees, prompting you to call for someone to take care of the problem.

“I was constantly going to O’Hare,” Hayes said of the travels required throughout his career. Chuckling again, he said, “I’ve been to every state in the union, and almost every country on this planet.”

Working with international companies to provide for a game that has an international reach like billiards kept Hayes moving, going from the office to trade shows, to meetings and back again for decades. He also did so while serving as President of both the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) and the Billiards and Bowling Institute of America (BBIA). After years of hard work, Hayes sold off Dufferin in 2000, and considers himself in retirement today.

“I’ve started to spend more time on the Cape, and I’ve been enjoying life out here,” Hayes said, finally happy to have time to spend with his family. Thinking about where he finds himself at this point in his career, he reaffirmed that he wouldn’t be where he is without the help of Western New England.

“I like the school very much,” Hayes said fondly. “It had a very important part in my career,” he concluded.