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10 minute read

Chairman's Newsletter: November 2021

WWT Chairman Dave Steward shares his thoughts on the business and what is inspiring him.

Greetings, WWT family and friends,

I pray this edition of the Chairman’s Newsletter finds you and your families well and enjoying autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the southern part of the globe. As we prepare to enter the holiday season, may each of you be blessed with the company of family and friends.

I would like to begin by thanking our executive leadership team, as well as all of our employees and their families, for their tireless efforts and focus on the safety and wellbeing of our entire WWT family. It has been another whirlwind year, but your hard work and passion serve as an example of why WWT is such a special place. 

Because of your dedication and support, WWT continues to thrive, with projected revenue expected to approach $15 billion for 2021! I am confident we will maintain our focus and surpass our budget to bring in yet another record year. Thank you!

Our people will always be WWT’s most valuable resource. As such, investing in their health and wellbeing remains a top priority. Along those lines, I would like to reiterate a few important changes recently made to enhance our benefits package: 

  • Once again, we will not increase health insurance premiums for our employees, continuing a streak of over 18 years of incredible investment in our employee benefits package.
  • We will be increasing the number of PTO days: from 17 days to 20 days for employees with zero to four years of service, and 22 days to 25 days for employees with five years to nine years of service.
  • Global bereavement leave for immediate family members will also increase from three to five days.

Another important benefit I want to remind everyone about is our Day of Caring, an opportunity for us all to get involved and support organizations or causes that are important to us. Each year, all employees get one day to volunteer and give back to the community at a non-profit of their choosing. We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to serve others, especially as we enter the holiday season.

Our United Way Campaign recently wrapped up, and I am tremendously grateful to everyone who contributed by e-Pledging or participating in our raffles and events. Former St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Rick Horton and Brad Thompson joined us for our rally this year and shared some special memories of their time as Cardinals players. The numbers are in and over $300,000 was donated to United Way through the generous contributions of our employees. Thank you for making an impact in the lives of your neighbors.

In August, WWT Raceway hosted the Bommarito IndyCar 500, with approximately 40,000 fans in attendance. WWT, along with a host of other companies, sponsored STEM Lane, which showcased the STEM ecosystem at work by providing fun, family-friendly, hands-on STEM activities for approximately 700 kids. 

Left and top right: WWT employees volunteer at WWT Raceway's STEM Lane. Bottom right: Children in STEM Lane at WWT Raceway. 

As I talk about our sponsorship of STEM Lane, I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the WWT Women of Color STEM Honorees — Tammi Gray, Nicole Plair, Belinda Rodriguez, Aria Jones, Dana Scott and Shaina Turner. Each year the Women of Color STEM Conference recognizes the achievements of women from diverse backgrounds who create innovation and inspiration. 

Thank you to each of these outstanding women for all they do to move technology forward and provide inspiration and encouragement to our next generation. 

WWT's 2021 Women of Color STEM Award Winners
WWT's 2021 Women of Color STEM Award Winners

You may have seen or heard about our sponsorship of the WWT Championship at Mayakoba. The seven-year sponsorship was a commitment to celebrate sports, technology and diversity. It is a tremendous way for us to put the WWT name on a global stage.

We were excited to welcome Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, as a keynote speaker during a two-day program focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Equally exciting was the sponsorship exemption we were honored to give Willie Mack III. His story is one of perseverance and passion — a rising amateur who found it hard to break into the pros, used hand-me down clubs, experienced homelessness, and even had a near-death experience. His story inspires me personally. 

Willie’s performance at Mayakoba is a testament to what people can do when they pursue their passion. I hope others around the world take notice.

Clockwise: The World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba logo, Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush presenting at the tournament, Willie Mack III after winning the APGA championship, and World Wide Technology Raceway owner Curtis Francois.

I am also incredibly thrilled to share that Curtis Francois, owner of World Wide Technology Raceway, has been named a finalist for the 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, which recognizes the philanthropic efforts of individuals within the NASCAR industry. 

Another friend of WWT, Bubba Wallace, received the award last year. This year’s winner will be announced at the end of November. Although Curtis is already a winner in so many respects, we are hopeful his community efforts will be recognized with this prestigious award.

On Sept. 15, my son, Dave II, and I were privileged to take part in the announcement that WWT Raceway has been awarded a NASCAR Cup Series — a race that will take place on June 5, 2022. This is an incredible honor for the raceway and the St. Louis area, with a tremendous opportunity to bring millions of dollars into our region. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to bring this event to WWT Raceway!

Left: Richard Petty and Dave Steward at a St. Louis Blues game, in which Richard gifted Dave with his one of a kind trademark hats. Right: Dave Steward wearing the iconic hat at a press conference announcing WWT Raceway as a host for an upcoming NASCAR Cup Series.

My father’s passion for racing is what first ignited my own interest in NASCAR. Although I grew up with a love for racing, the first time I ever attended a race was at WWT Raceway. I was invited to be the grand marshal for the IndyCar Race in 2018, when I got to ride in the pace car. What a thrill that was!

I am grateful that my son developed a love for racing as a child (his favorite TV show was Speed Racer), and he is carrying on our family’s passion for racing. As part of our family commitment to advance racial equity, Dave II’s company, Lion Forge Animation, is partnering with the family of Wendell Scott to educate the next generation on the important contributions of NASCAR’s first Black champion and how STEM connects to this exciting sport. I look forward to sharing more about the road that led to this Cup race in future editions of the Chairman’s Newsletter.

While we all hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we continue to monitor the situation as it relates to a return to the office. As Jim Kavanaugh mentioned in the corporate update, we are committed to providing a 30-day notice regarding reopening decisions and will keep you apprised of developments. We also continue to follow the same protocols of receiving proper leadership approval for any business critical travel or onsite work. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we continue to navigate this time together.

The decision to require COVID vaccinations was a difficult one, and one we did not take lightly. We respect all of your opinions and believe vaccination is an extremely personal choice; but as a federal contractor we must ultimately comply with the presidential executive order to preserve the viability of our business and protect the health of our employees. Thank you for being respectful of this decision and of your fellow coworkers, especially when differences of opinion occur. If you have a specific situation that you would like to discuss regarding exemptions, please feel free to reach out to Ann Marr, Bob Ferrell or Sara Goellner for a confidential conversation. 

One of the brightest spots during the past 20 months has been the voluntary bi-weekly WWT Family & Friends Prayer Calls. We have been blessed with music from amazing musicians (Korean Soul, Cece Winans and David Sanborn, among others) and heard truly inspirational messages from tremendous guest speakers (Washington Football Team’s Jason Wright, Baltimore Raven’s Chaplain Johnny Shelton, Governor Mike Parson, Dr. Willie Jolley and more). 

Watch Prayer Call Playlist

We are grateful to have this platform to continue to bring messages of faith, hope and encouragement to all who choose to tune in. I am thankful to everyone who has sent words of encouragement to the team, and I am pleased to report we plan to continue this ministry into 2022! If you have not had the opportunity to listen in, we invite you to join us. You can also find recordings of previous calls here and submit prayer requests to prayer@wwt.com

As always, I am pleased to share with you the devotion from the October WWT Board of Directors meeting. The devotion is based on Psalm 127, which touches on legacy. Many people strive to build a legacy, but scripture reminds us to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. As you seek to prosper and have fulfillment in this life — be it in business, family or otherwise — I pray your focus will remain on building an eternal return on your investment.

Before I wrap up, I want to thank all of our veterans as we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11, a national holiday honoring those who have so bravely served the United States of America. Every American owes a tremendous debt to veterans for fighting to preserve the freedom we so often take for granted. I pray God will bestow a special blessing upon each of you and your families.

WWT employees celebrate Diwali in 2019 at WWT's technology campus in St. Louis.

I would also like to wish everybody a belated happy Diwali. Celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world, Diwali is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil. What an appropriate message to keep in mind as we head toward a new year and as we embrace the cultures of all our global employees. You can learn more about Diwali by visiting the Ohana Teams Site.

And finally, I want to wish my fellow Americans a very happy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving may be an American holiday, but I pray all of our employees around the world will take a moment to be thankful for the blessings they have received and remember to whom much is given, much will be required.

May God continue to richly and abundantly bless you and your precious families.

God bless,

Dave