M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series

The M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture Series highlights the role of innovation in the success of retail businesses. Established in 1998, this annual lecture series honors creative merchandising in today’s marketplace. The series also serves to recognize the late M.B. Zale as a legendary retailer, a visionary businessman and esteemed philanthropist. The speaker chosen to present this lecture epitomizes the leadership, service philosophy and creativity demonstrated by M.B. Zale.

M.B. Zale founded Zale Corporation, the international jewelry chain, in 1924. He is widely respected as one of the giants in retailing. Donald Zale, the founder’s son, is chairman of the M.B. & Edna Zale Foundation and a member of the class of 1955 at Texas A&M University. His challenge to three universities to help retailing by developing the next generation of retail leadership led to the creation of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M in 1983.


  • Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, Founder & Owner, Gallery Furniture
  • Arch “Beaver” Aplin III, President, Buc-ee’s
  • Garrett Boone, Co-Chairman Emeritus; Kip Tindell, Co-Chairman and CEO; Sharon
    Tindell, Chief Merchandising Officer, The Container Store
  • Robert L. Tillman, Chairman, President, and CEO, Lowe’s
  • Leonard Riggio, Chairman, CEO and Founder, Barnes &Noble
  • Gordon Segal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Crate and Barrel, Inc.
  • Marvin J. Girouard, ’61, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pier 1 Imports
  • Dr. Jeffrey L. Bluestein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson
  • Jim Carreker, Chairman and CEO, The Bombay Company
  • Bob Nardelli, Chairman, President and CEO, The Home Depot
  • Maxine Clark, Chairman and Chief Executive Bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop
  • Mike Ullman, Chairman and CEO, JCPenney Inc.
  • Matt Rubel, CEO and President, Payless ShoeSource
  • Sam Duncan, CEO and Chairman, OfficeMax Inc.
  • Robert D. Loeffler, Former President, H-E-B
  • Eduardo Castro-Wright, Vice Chairman, Walmart
  • Theo Killion, CEO, Zale Corporation
  • Rodney Faldyn, CEO and President, Academy Sports + Outdoors
  • Karen Katz, CEO and President, Neiman Marcus
  • Blake Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom, Inc.
  • Damien Harmon, Vice President of Operations, Bridgestone Retail Operations
  • Melissa Phillips, President & COO, Tuesday Morning