We’ve all heard how military service can help to build leadership skills, but some of the largest corporations in America are proof. You might not know that businesses you rely on every day have been founded, owned, or run by veterans. From convenience stores to telecommunications and beyond, some of the best-known businesses in America have benefited from the leadership of veterans.
Founded in 1971 as Federal Express, this shipping giant was the
brainchild of decorated Marine Frederick W. Smith. During the conflict in Vietnam Smith earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts.
Much of the inspiration for FedEx’s daily operations were inspired by Smith’s observations of the military’s supply chain management. The business was in jeopardy multiple times, with Smith keeping it afloat in one instance with $27,000 in Las Vegas casino blackjack winnings.
FedEx has since grown into a worldwide shipping giant, backed by a fleet of nearly 650 private cargo planes and over 30,000 delivery trucks. The company still prides itself on its large amount of veteran employees, with service members making up a sizable portion of their loading and delivery team.
While it wasn’t founded by a veteran, the current 7-Eleven President and CEO is a former Army field artillery officer. The retail chain has a long history of encouraging veteran involvement, even before DePinto was tapped to run it, with a longstanding veteran franchise program in place. The program encourages business ownership as a way for combat veterans to use their abilities to build their new lives after returning home, and is widely seen as one of the best veteran’s franchise programs in the world.
Although it might not come as a surprise to most, Lockheed Martin has a long history of employing veterans in senior management positions. The current CEO, Robert Stevens, is a Marine who served his country honorably in the early 1970’s. Stevens oversees a program instituted at Lockheed to help veterans transition back to civilian life, partnering with the Wounded Warriors Project and DoD in order to provide employment and other support to service men and women.
Johnson & Johnson
CEO Alex Gorsky has led manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson since 2012. He retired from the Army after 6 years, attaining the rank of Captain and getting his airborne wings and Ranger tab. This Special Forces operator is thought to have seen action in multiple theaters, including Panama. Since his retirement he has also been active with the Boy Scouts of America and the National Council on Mental Health.
Currently, American car-maker GM is headed by Daniel Akerson, a veteran naval officer who served on a destroyer in the 1970’s. Akerson also serves on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, a non-profit fundraiser and supporter of the Naval Academy.