Fast Track to the Top: Laying a Firm Foundation

By Lisa Gschwandtner

When Shaw Industries was founded: 1946A world-class business: Shaw leads in textile manufacturing nationwide and carpet production worldwide.Where Shaw is headquartered: Dalton, GA (“the carpet capital of the world”)Annual sales: $5 billionTotal employees: 30,000How Bill Magee got a foot in the door: After graduating from college, Magee got in touch with a Shaw recruitment manager and was turned away repeatedly. “After about a month I got to know his assistant, Pam Martin, and I got her to tell me when he’d be in his office with no appointments. Then I drove from Atlanta to Dalton, which is about 100 miles, and I said, ‘Hey, Elbert, let’s go to lunch.'”Number of years at Shaw: 24Number of sales reps: 92Primary focus: To develop the leadership capabilities of his seven regional VPs and two account managers. So far, Shaw has not had to downsize its sales force at all. “We’re not going to be in this downturn forever. If we put the people in place, train them, develop them, and invest in them, we’ll be in a very good position in eighteen months.”On molding good managers: “I have to make certain that the regional VPs are not trying to be the supersalesperson and rush in to close the deal. It’s like that old saying, ‘It’s not what they can do with you, it’s what they can do without you.'”On finding new opportunities: “The challenge now is in redirecting our efforts and finding clients who are in a position to purchase today. OK, corporate America is not purchasing. But think about segments that are good. Think about schools and universities. Military housing. Healthcare.”Career outlook: “Everyday that I get up and do this, I enjoy the heck out of it.” For more information on Shaw Industries, visit or www.shawlearning