Where does time go? It is hard to believe that it has been almost 42 years since Shaw Industries offered me a job as a trainee in the spring of 1976. I remember the day well…I could not say “yes” fast enough! With everything I owned in the back of a Vega station wagon, Dalton became my new home.
Over the past 41 years I have been so blessed to be a small part of the incredible story of the growth of Shaw Industries and our community. Most of you know the history and what the company has meant to the flooring industry. For me through those years the greatest part of the story has been the wonderful people I have had the honor of working with. Every day, every year we all focused on how we could help create a better future…for our customers, our associates and their families, our communities where we lived and worked, and of course for Shaw.
As Sharon and I head toward retirement and full time grand parenting I want to say thank you. I wish I could see everyone face to face, but alas this is my best opportunity.
First, thank you to all of the customers across the country who have supported our company professionally and me personally. I am so grateful that I have been mentored by so many of you and have the privilege of calling you friends as well as great customers. I have had the pleasure of seeing your businesses grow and in some cases seeing second and third generations step in to continue the legacy of this great industry. Thank you all for your unwavering support and kindness. Nothing would have been possible with out each one of you.
Second, thank you to all of the wonderful people of Shaw Industries. Throughout the years this has numbered in the hundreds of thousands. We have all worked together with a common goal to serve our customers with great products and great service…every day. And while we did not get it right some days, it was not for lack of heart or effort. Shaw Industries is a family and an unbeatable team of great people. That is truly the secret—great people doing innovative and creative things.
Third, I have to say a special word of thanks to Vance Bell, our CEO. I have been blessed to know Vance since my first week at Shaw. No one has worked harder, nor given more, in their time as a leader. Vance was a steady hand on the wheel through the worst recession of our time. He has made insightful and strategic decisions throughout his career that have helped lead us to where we are today. He has been, and continues to be, a great servant leader and I have been honored to work with him.
Finally, I want to say thank you to the members of the trade press. You all work tirelessly to support this industry and everyone in it. Through the years you have been fair to Shaw and fair to me. I appreciate the relationships and friendships we have built and will always be grateful. I will continue to follow the industry through your work.
As proud as I am of all we have accomplished at Shaw over the past 50 years, I am even more excited about the future that lies ahead for the next 50. We have an incredible team of talented, energetic leaders who are bright, hungry and dedicated. They all possess and live the core values of honesty, integrity and passion. My experience has shown me through the years that when one leader moves on, they are inevitably replaced by one that is even stronger and more talented. No one misses a beat and the former is soon just a fond memory. I am so excited that this will be the case for Vance and his team going forward. The men and women of Shaw Industries are more prepared than ever to lead the flooring industry for many years to come.
So, not only from me, but from my entire family, thank you for the distinct honor of working with you all for the past 41-plus years. Thank you for your advice, your support, your encouragement, and most of all, your friendship. My days as an every day participant in the flooring industry are about finished…but I hope my days as a friend to you all will never end.
In humble gratitude,