Purpose answers the questions: “Why do I exist?” and “What is noble about our efforts?” A clear purpose is not only critical for the new work force, it is critical as the cornerstone of a company’s strategy. Dick Gochnauer knows this truth to the core. He is the former CEO of United Stationers, a Fortune 500 Company and now serves on the board of the Center for Higher Ambition, which is dedicated to helping purposeful leaders build high performing companies and a better world.
United Stationers is the largest business products distribution company in the U.S. Dick helped to transform the business as the CEO, not only producing a strong return for shareholders but also a powerful impact with employees, suppliers, and the communities where the company lives and works. When Dick retired, the company set up The Dick Gochnauer Legacy Award for the most outstanding effort by an employee or team who gave back to their community.
Dick took over United Stationers when analysts were predicting the demise of the company, thinking it would be disinter-mediated by big box office suppliers such as Staples. No such thing happened and United Stationers outperformed others in the industry, which was a result of strategic leadership.
Dick attributes much of the company’s success to crafting a powerful purpose for the company that engaged all stakeholders. The motivation, commitment, and creativity that resulted from the effort has left United Stationers, now Essendant, in a strong position to continue as the dominant player in office products distribution.
Thank you for your interest as a leader who wants to make a difference.