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Bob Chapman : Prioritizing People at Barry-Wehmiller

By Jason Carter

Our company recently completed articulating our five core values:

1.      Prioritize People

2.      Love the Problem

3.      Be More… Do More

4.      Celebrate Uncommon Genius

5.      Cultivate Beauty

Aegis Core Values Icons

These values are fundamentally outward-focused, culminating in the final value, in which we commit to pursuing truth, goodness and beauty. We believe our business interactions should leave our employees, our clients and our communities better than we found them. In that spirit, I intend to celebrate these values wherever I find them, both within and without our own organization. This is the second in what will be an ongoing series of those celebrations, in which I invite all my contacts to consider what some amazing people are doing around us. Find the first here.

Barry-Wehmiller is not exactly a household name brand. I grew up in St. Louis, and after a 20-year Navy career, have lived here for the past 11 years. Though they do approximately $2B in annual revenue, I had never heard of the company until I attended a small gathering of process improvement professionals to hear their CIO speak. I’ve been an admirer ever since.

Here’s what you should know. Barry Wehmiller is a conglomerate of approximately 60 businesses around the world. Since their beginning in 1885 as a small midwestern-USA-based pasteurizer and bottle washer business, they have grown into a global supplier of manufacturing technology and services serving a diverse platform of industries: packaging, paper converting, sheeting, corrugating, engineering and IT consulting. It’s not a business which you would expect from its description to be known for fostering people-centric leadership. But Bob is different. He’s the author of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, and the force behind the BW Leadership Institute, that “inspires people on their journey toward better leadership.”

Everybody Matters
Everybody Matters – The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family

Bob discovered through a series of highs and lows in his journey at BW that measuring success solely by the bottom line was neither personally fulfilling nor professionally optimal. He learned that caring for his people like family not only made them happier and more fulfilled, but that their renewed attitudes translated directly into his entire team performing better. In 2002, BW formally articulated their Guiding Principles of Leadership, the cultural vision statement that has become the cornerstone of the company’s culture. Bob has subsequently taken this message on the road. In 2012, he delivered a TEDx Talk right here in our back yard at Scott AFB, IL, which has since been viewed over 150,000 times on YouTube. In 2014, Inc. magazine named BW one of its Most Audacious Companies in the area of culture, and in the next year, Bob published his book. I had the privilege of hearing him speak publicly at a recent Vistage event, and — despite my previous familiarity with his basic message — still found myself walking away inspired to be an even better leader of people.

For those who are seeking to demonstrate what Bob calls ‘truly human leadership,’ I would encourage you to check out his work. Listen to his Scott AFB TEDx talk, read his book, and/or consider attending a class or two at the BW Leadership Institute. Bob is prioritizing people through his work and his evangelistic message, and I’ve personally benefited from his example.