Welcome to another special section of the Chairman's Newsletter, where we highlight the backgrounds and expertise of each of our esteemed WWT board members.
In this edition, we feature Rich McClure, who brings to the board a leadership resume that spans both the public and private sectors as well as a rich body of work in the philanthropic and community giving realm.
From 2002 to 2014, Rich served as president and CEO of privately held UniGroup, the multi-billion dollar parent of United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit. He has chaired several of the St. Louis-areas most influential not-for-profit boards, including Civic Progress, the United Way and Children’s Hospital.
In 2014, he co-chaired The Ferguson Commission, a group assembled to conduct a wide-ranging study of the social and economic conditions that impede progress, equality and safety in the St. Louis region, at the request of the Governor of Missouri. And prior to relocating to St. Louis, Rich served as Chief of Staff for Missouri Governor John Ashcroft and Deputy Chief of Staff for Illinois Governor Jim Thompson.
I hope you enjoy reading this personal interview and getting to know Rich a bit better.
Q: Your background is diverse, with extensive careers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Talk a bit about your background.
A: I grew up in a mid-sized Missouri town (Springfield). My mother was a school teacher and father was a World War II veteran who owned his own small appliance dealership. Growing up in that environment taught me a lot about family and faith and the values it takes to serve others and tackle challenges. I entered public service, which is where I spent the first 20 years of my career, because it was a way to live out my desire to make a significant impact early in life. When I was 40, I moved to UniGroup and eventually became CEO. That experience allowed me to deeply understand customer service, supply chain strategy and operations, and the impact of a market leading digital strategy. We grew our international business during my time there — adding operations in Europe and Asia. Then after 20 years at UniGroup, it was time for life three, as my wife Sharon and I like to call it. I had spent a career in public policy and another in the corporate world. It was time for me to be exposed to the great experiences the not-for-profit world was offering. I chaired the United Way board for two years and just recently finished that term. I chair the St. Louis Children’s Hospital board and am currently on the BJC Board of Directors in addition to the corporate board work I do.
Q: How did you become engaged with WWT?
A: UniGroup utilized services from and relied heavily on WWT. So, first it was as a customer. At our peak, we had over 200 folks on our information technology team. But then also UniGroup is a long-term supplier partner of WWT, with UniGroup Logistics, a subsidiary of UniGroup, providing hauling and distribution capacity for the North American Integration Center. I’ve really been able to see first-hand the breadth and depth of offerings WWT can provide to its customers and the way in which WWT challenges and supports our suppliers.
Q: Given that background, what do you think of WWT’s supply chain and integration capabilities?
It’s absolutely critical to our success with customers, and meeting and exceeding their needs. In a just-in-time world, complex systems integration is so important to not only get the job done right, but correctly every time. WWT has excelled at this — building complex solutions in ways that are scalable and repeatable, and that serve the largest companies around the globe with great solutions.
Q: While CEO of UniGroup you went undercover on the TV show Undercover Boss. In reflecting that experience, you’ve talked about the importance of people as key business drivers. How important does the WWT Board consider people to our overall success?
A: WWT is literally a global leader in valuing people, and in training and developing a world class workforce — from both a cultural and skill set perspective. The recent Leadership Conference was a great example of that. The intentional and deeply engaged thought that has gone into the Integrated Management and Leadership curriculum has been incredibly important. And then to make that program pervasive from frontline workers all the way up to the most senior leaders of the company is differentiating.
What I learned on Undercover Boss was that frontline workers make all the difference in the world. They literally are our brand to the people they work with and are responsible for delivering world-class service as well as dealing with challenges on the fly. I got to experience that firsthand by going undercover, but WWT does this, too, in other ways through town halls, listening sessions and carefully training leaders across all levels of the organization.
Q: You contributed an essay to the book, “The Inspired Leader: 101 Biblical Reflections for Becoming a Person of Influence.” In that essay, you talk a lot about identity and authenticity and the power of the two. With Black History Month nearing its end, how important is it for WWT to not only talk about being an inclusive and diverse workforce, but being authentic in that mission?
A: I came to a much deeper understanding of racial equity issues during my work as co-chair of the Ferguson Commission following the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. We spent 13 months hearing from thousands in our region and thinking carefully about long-term underlying root causes of systemic inequity in our region. The lessons learned from that in terms of creating economic opportunity and fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce for others were life changing for me.
With that perspective, I feel privileged to be sitting on a board of a company headed by a leader of business who is African American and speaks to those issues from his own life experiences. And our chairman and founder Dave Steward leads this company to embrace a culture that provides opportunity and fosters racial equity based on rock solid values from his faith and life experience. Literally every board meeting we spend a substantial time talking about this topic specifically — not just as it relates to our workforce or workplace, but how we relate that to the communities and families we serve.
Q: Are there any topics the board puts focus on that might surprise any given WWT employee?
A: The board focuses on the strategic direction of the company and serving and supporting Jim (Kavanaugh) and his leadership team on executing on a very successful and exciting strategy. So we have deep dives into the strategic growth opportunities that will continue to drive the exceptional growth of the company. We also talk a lot about frontline workers and how our mission, vision and values are played out to reach all employees. This most recent board meeting, we spent time talking about diversity and inclusion and the many initiatives that are underway in that regard. And every meeting, we also talk about a specific challenge the company faces, whether it’s global expansion or supply chain or another operational challenge.
Q: What has you excited about WWT?
A: There is so much to be excited about for the future of WWT. First, WWT is clearly a thought leader and market-leading enterprise. As the services strategy unfolds, it will catapult us to serve our customers in broader ways. You look at the ATC Platform and the opportunity to expand how we drive business outcomes for customers with innovative, scalable solutions. Certainly, supply chain is an incredible part of our future opportunity. And then there’s the vaunted WWT sales engine that is just on fire because of our product offerings and their ability to find new ways to serve customers.