Houston Astros Baseball Club ownerÂ Drayton McLaneÂ â€” an international businessman and food importer and exporter for four decades â€” told students in Lorraine Eden’s management class that businessmen should adopt their attitudes from baseball. Baseball mirrors life’s ups and downs; with more than 160 games a season, the team might lose one game but has to remain unfazed to face the next game less than 24 hours later.
So his advice? “Move forward, get off the past, and think about what you’re going to do tomorrow.”
That lesson is in part a new one for McLane, who faced a group of ballplayers during spring training in 1993 and attempted to inspire them about teamwork â€” a businessman’s mantra â€” before he realized the players’ focus was first on their own performance. “In business, a lot of times we hide behind teams and say that the team failed,” he said. “Well, the team didn’t fail; that pitcher lost the game. We don’t take enough personal responsibility.”
McLane, a third-generation grocery wholesaler and entrepreneur, is chairman of family-owned holding company McLane Group, based in Temple, which has owned and operated the Astros since 1992. The group also oversees Minute Maid Park; MC-McLane International, involved in global imports and exports; software solutions company McLane Advanced Technologies; McLane International, Inc., which provides wholesale food distribution overseas; Classic Foods and LoneStar Plastics, both based in Fort Worth; Hometown Favorites, a nostalgic candy company; andÂ CSP Magazine, the leading publication in the convenience store industry.
McLane’s businesses grew an average of 30 percent a year from 1966 to 1990, a testament to a leadership style in which he told students to “find the future” and direct employees toward it.
Expounding on the international aspect of his work and the networking that put him in business in such countries as Spain and Poland, McLane cautioned students to maintain their ethical standards no matter what other governments’ policies are.
“If you have a better idea, better plans and a better product,” he said, “it may be more complicated, but you’ll win.”