Photo caption: Fletcher Lord Jr. (left) and Bill Schlatterer
Bill Schlatterer, president and CEO of Replacement Parts Inc. (parent company of Crow-Burlingame), walked out of a meeting on Monday expecting to take a small break before heading back into the conference room. Instead, he found more than 100 employees gathered right outside the door.
As they clapped and yelled, “Surprise!” and “Congratulations!”, he stood for a moment taking in the whole scene. Bouncing gold and black balloons, tables bursting with goodies – cheese and vegetable trays, party sandwiches, fruit arrangements, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes – all flanking a huge Italian cream cake with the words “Happy 50th Anniversary, Bill”written across the top in gold icing. He grinned and in his usual, low-key manner said, “Oh, guys, this is just terrific. Thank you.”
Schlatterer started his career with Crow-Burlingame in 1972 as a delivery driver at the flagship store on 7th and Arch in Little Rock, Arkansas. As he talked to the crowd, he shared his secret to success. “You don’t get lucky,” he said. “You raise your hand, do the work other people don’t want to do, and you make your good luck happen.” Then he turned serious. “You know, not to get all melancholy or anything, but I have always loved my job. Loved my work family. Those years went so fast. Where did those 50 years go?”
It was quiet for a moment, and then Fletcher Lord Jr., chairman of the board, stepped forward. He said, “In 1972, we had one district manager. One day he called me up and he said, ‘Fletcher. We have a problem. I’ve got this guy, and we either need to fire him, or move him up, because he is driving me crazy.’ Well, now this guy is getting his 50-year pin, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner all of these years.”