After Three Decades, John Strangfeld is Perched Atop the Rock
by Gerald S. Cohen
JOHN STRANGFELD'S CONFERENCE room on the 24th floor of the Prudential building in Newark, N.J., is expansive. To the south, he can see Prudential Center, the new entertainment and sports arena complex that opened in October as the centerpiece of the city’s revitalization project.
Emblazoned on the broad rooftop of the arena, in bright blue letters visible to passengers on their descent to Newark Liberty International Airport, is the Prudential logo with the signature Rock of Gibraltar that has served the company so reliably for more than 110 years. The naming opportunity, which cost Prudential $105.3 million, is the most recent example of the company’s support for its hometown.
Directly below is Broad Street, the city’s main artery. In the late 1960s, after riots ravaged Newark, the biggest commercial occupants began their flight to the suburbs and beyond. But Prudential stayed put. It remained Newark’s most reliable corporate citizen, a financial bulwark in a struggling community, the rock that stood firm in its host city. And now the streets are alive again, as shoppers bustle along with an air of confidence and optimism.
Strangfeld ’75, Prudential’s new chairman and chief executive officer, is a Newark booster. The city is one of his many causes, another possibility for making a difference. The once struggling and unremarkable city now seems poised for greatness. And like the city that Prudential calls home, Strangfeld, who now seems destined for greatness, will tell you that his life was once pretty unremarkable, too.