Rotary Minute: Steed Rollins


Editor’s note: Steed Rollins is one of my oldest friends in Durham. We were back door neighbors in American Village when I moved here in 1984  and we collaborated on more than one thing as he describes in his own words below. -JZ

I have been a member of Durham Rotary for 28 years. I joined in 1986 when we met at the Kidney of Durham…I mean the Heart of Durham Hotel. My father was member of this club for about 45 years before he died in 1985. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day today, it is appropriate to note that Dad was the first member of this club to enlist in the US Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He spent three years in the jungles of New Guinea as a Master Sargent with the Army Air Corps.

Pelham Wilder, who was my father’s closest friend and a member of this club was my sponsor.

During my time in Rotary, I have served as Sgt of Arms, Program Committee Chair and as our working Club Secretary for two years.

I am a graduate of Durham Academy, Duke University and the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.  I worked for 12 years at The Herald-Sun newspapers as Director of Corporate Relations. My grandfather was one of the founders of the Durham Morning Herald and they later purchased The Durham Sun. During my time at The Herald-Sun, I worked with Toby Barfield. I served on the Board of the American Red Cross and recruited Toby to replace me on the Board. He later became the Executive Director and recruited me back on the Board and I am currently the Past Chairman of that group now run by Stan Morris. Jay Zenner, then the  Marketing Director or CCB, and I were tasked with organizing Durham’s first City of Medicine Health Fair. I am a graduate of Leadership Durham and our Class Leader was Susan Ross. I worked with Bob Booth and Tom White to publish Action Magazine for the Durham Chamber of Commerce. I spent several years on the Board of the Durham Literacy Council and two years as its President. I was a member, with several other Rotarians and others interested in Downtown, of what became Downtown Durham Inc. and our first action was to hire Bill Kalkhof. That worked out well!  I am currently the chair of Friends of Scouting working with Desmond Miller.

I sold my interest in The Herald-Sun in 1996 with the majority of the shareholders and became an entrepreneur. I started by purchasing 343 West Main Street at Five Points with the help of Jay Zenner. Together we started a College Mascot Figurine business with the help of a local artist. In 2000, I partnered with a North Carolina lumberman to create First American Siberian Timber.  We imported hardwoods and softwoods from Eastern Europe and Russia for sale to wholesale distributors here in the US.  We had an office in Prague and grew to about $6 million in sales. I had the opportunity to see parts of Siberia that I never imagined that I would. Did you know that Russia has over 50% of the world’s pine forests?  Anyway , the collapse of the housing market her in the US brought an end to the sales of almost all lumber and to our business. From there, I have ventured into Financial Services and Business Consulting.

This summer I acquired my Real Estate License and I have joined Peak Swirles  & Cavallito as a Real Estate Agent and I would be glad to help you.



  1. […] Steed used this Rotary minute to outline his family connections to the area…Dad, Mom and inlaws, which go very deep. In 2014 he did another Rotary Minute with more of his own personal history which is here. […]

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