Al attended Davidson College for two years and transferred to NC State, graduating in 1962 with a mechanical engineering degree. In 1969, he an MBA at UNC-Ch.
Coming to RJR
After he graduated from State, he went to work for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco in Winston Salem and was there for seven years. He worked initially in the engineering department but was transferred to food product development where he worked with Chun King.
Memorable Events at RJR
Jim Shepherd was one of his best friends both in the engineering department and as a golfing friend at Hound Ears. He was also very close to Jim Corrigan, and Sonny Lacey from RJR, often playing golf together.
Al loved his work in RJR engineering, but after the food acquisitions, he was assigned to work with their food plants on machine engineering. The clash of cultures soon became apparent, especially at one Chun King plant. Al left RJR and started a new career.
Al moved to Charlotte where he became a manufacturer’s rep for a line of industrial control systems. He apparently did quite well at this but said that some point in his life he was tired of traveling. His territory included all of eastern North Carolina and he had to travel there frequently.
He joined a real estate firm, Cottingham–Chalk in 1987. In October 1991, he and Vicky Michener left to form Michener -Dickens Realtors. He sold his share of the business in 2006 to Vicky and retired. His timing was great, avoiding the housing crisis of 2008.
Since his wife died, he has gone back to work for his old friend and former boss Dan Cottingham. Al plans to specialize in selling the homes of his contemporaries who are moving into retirement communities.
I met Al Dickens only a couple years ago through mutual friends. We discovered that we had a common history at RJR. Al had a successful real estate career in Charlotte for many years, but he still maintained his friendship with a number of his friends from his RJR days. GAH