Today we got the news that our longtime CEO, friend and mentor Chuck Wilson passed away at home surrounded by friends and family this morning July 29, 2009. His long battle with cancer has given hope and inspiration to many.
As we remember Chuck, his service and his legacy… one thing comes to mind; it is found in Matthew 23:11: “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” Among many things Chuck was a servant to all.
Nashville Wraps has been one of the top sponsors of the American Cancer Societies’ Relay for Life event here in Hendersonville, TN. That was a favorite project of Chuck’s over the years and he used it to help us understand what community service is all about. It reminds us here at Nashville Wraps that we have a responsibility to serve others, to share our resources and our time.
In 2008 Chuck was interviewed by the local FOX affiliate WZTV-17 News on his involvement with the American Cancer Society, but mostly for his dedication to survivorship and in helping others overcome the emotional element of their diagnosis. See Chuck’s Excellent Adventure for text and the video interview.
One of Chuck’s goals in becoming CEO was to help Nashville Wraps transition to its future potential. At the time he took over that position, the company was wrestling with many growing pains. We were much smaller then at around 7 million in revenues, but growing at double-digit rates. Today we are a well-established, solid company with deep ties to our community, our employees, our customers and our vendors. Revenues in 2009 are expected to be approximately $40 million with over 100 employees operating from two distribution centers totaling nearly 200,000 sq. ft.
Another of Chuck goals, as he put it, was “To become the best company in the world”; a big challenge no matter where you are starting from. But that is the reason we do what we do, why our customers love us and why our employee turnover rate is practically zero. It is also why our vendors trust us so much and therefore we are able to partner with them in offering the customers of Nashville Wraps so many unique opportunities and products.
I asked a few of our management employees to add their comments to this blog. Although there were many offered, as you can imagine, here are just a few I selected:
He exemplified the term “an officer and a gentleman.” He retained his sense of humor throughout adversity. He was a great advocate for Nashville Wraps and all of its employees AND customers. He always managed to build up, even when he was in the position of having to say no.
Chuck gave so much of himself to others. He not only was a good listener, but he had a way with people that is so hard to find in this day in time. I admired his strength, determination and attitude that he showed us each day that he was here. He was a wonderful example of what a Christian should be.
This was a man who served and loved his country; a man of strong character and will who did not mind showing off Bella (his Shiatsu) in her new lavender gingham dress.
One of my favorite pieces of advice from Chuck: Have vision first. He always had the ability to blend faith and common business sense. That is one thing he strived to teach.
In 2008 Chuck wrote: “After nearly 65 years of living I look back and see that life is a series of adventures. Some are more exciting than others but all offer us the opportunity to learn something valuable, and the most difficult experiences yield the most important lessons. For example, as a 17 year old Midshipman I learned the secrets of leadership: never lie to the troops; always feed the troops first; and never ask someone to do what you haven’t done or wouldn’t be willing to do.”
I was fortunate to visit him yesterday and we had a very good talk. While leaving I stopped and said to him, “See you on the other side,” and he quickly replied, “Yes, indeed you will.” That will remain with me as my last communication with Chuck, but also an invitation. He was good at opening doors, and continues to be even after his trip through the last one.
Robby Meadows, Nashville Wraps
PS: The photo above is of Chuck’s office where he enjoyed many conversations with Nashville Wraps employees, suppliers, friends and associates.