Move out of Dayton was ‘a great move for NCR,’ CEO says

The CEO of NCR says his 2009 decision to move the company from Dayton to the Atlanta area boiled down to leadership, and criticism over that decision caused him personal pain.

“I took some spears in the back for that decision, but it was a great decision for NCR,” CEO Bill Nuti said in an exclusive interview Monday with the editorial board of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

When asked later in the AJC interview what he had learned through the process of relocating the company from Dayton, Nuti acknowledged that the process and coverage of the move was painful.

“Whoever tells you that those articles don’t hurt you is lying. As tough as they may be, they’re personally painful to read. Those decisions are not personal,” Nuti said of the press coverage of the move.

“I lived in Dayton for three years at Moraine Farm. I like Dayton, I like the people in Dayton. I love our history in Dayton,” Nuti said. NCR, founded in 1884 as National Cash Register Co., was considered Dayton’s ultimate corporate citizen. The relocation cost Dayton about 1,250 jobs and its last remaining Fortune 500 company.

“I will always admire and continue to express my appreciation to Dayton,” Nuti said. “But there’s something about leadership. Leadership in and of itself requires a huge amount of courage and when you challenge the status quo, and I did and I had to, you are going to piss people off,” Nuti said. “You are going to make enemies. You have to be at peace with yourself that you are making the decisions for the right reasons and take what comes with that.

“I probably could have handled, I wish I had talked to the press in Dayton a bit more about that,” he said. “So it was a good learning for me.

“Whether it was Dundee (Scotland, where the company closed a factory several years ago) or Dayton, it was tough,” Nuti said.

NCR has announced it is moving again, this time from Duluth, Ga. to the area surrounding Georgia Tech. In a story posted on late Monday, Nuti said the planned $260 million headquarters for NCR is the first step in a grander plan to create a “Silicon Valley of the East.”

Nuti said NCR’s planned headquarters could be the start of series of tech companies that locate in Atlanta. Within five years, he expects another major tech company to put its headquarters in Midtown. Nuti also said he is “actively advocating” with other CEOs for the establishment of nearby innovation labs.

Atlanta’s economic development arm recently approved $314 million in bonds for the headquarters project that would be backed by NCR. The bonds also come with property tax breaks. The total value of local incentives is expected to be about $16 million.

NCR received an incentive package valued at up to $109 million when it decided in 2009 to move from Dayton.

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