Episode 59 - Saying No to Sam Walton and other Entrepreneurial Stories with Drayton McLane of the Houston Astros


Today the team took a trip deep into the heart of Texas to hear from Drayton McLane, the visionary business leader behind McLane Company and former owner of the Houston Astros. Drayton is widely known for his leadership within Walmart, as well as his generosity toward his two alma maters—Baylor University and Michigan State. On this episode, you’ll hear a list of lessons that we were able to glean from Drayton’s extensive experience as an entrepreneur, business leader, and philanthropist.

The stereotype of today’s entrepreneur centers around young, sleek tech startups. If you’re reading about the new and popular businesses, you’re likely to hear about twenty-somethings who have come up with market-busting ideas. And maybe you’re one of those people—if so, great! This podcast is for you too. Drayton McLane provided a look at entrepreneurship over the past 50 years. His scope is immense and so is all the wisdom he has learned during that time.

While McLane Transportation was anything but glamorous, Drayton shared the mindset that made them successful. He discussed what it looks like to create a working environment that makes sure everyone is winning and how to make work, and starting a business, fun. He also tells the story of how Sam Walton of Walmart eventually bought his business—it involves a phone call from Sam to Drayton’s wife trying to convince him to sell—and brought Drayton and his team on board as their grocery supplier. At the time, Drayton may have referred to supermarkets as a ridiculous idea, but now he’s pretty glad it worked out the way it did.

What makes this podcast special is the story-telling. Talking with Drayton McLane was like sitting on the front porch of a seasoned veteran who knew the lay of the land better than anyone. With 37 years of experience as a CEO it’s no surprise that Drayton has his fair share of stories, all of which can help entrepreneurs of any age along their journey.

Whether you’ve been an entrepreneur your whole life, or whether you’re in the midst of your very first start-up, Drayton McLane has wisdom, counsel, and a story or two just for you. We hope you enjoy listening to this episode!

Useful Links:

Drayton McLane Bio

History of McLane Group—How a Small Grocery Business Grew Into One of the Largest Foodservice Distributors in the World.

Local Businessman Helped Lay Foundation for Houston Astros World Series Win

We also have a very brief survey we’d love for you to take that will help us shape the direction and future of the FDE podcast. As always, we love taking your questions and hearing your comments. Feel free to submit your thoughts in general here.