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Baldor Ex-CEO Talks to Business Students

(Posted: October 10, 2012)

John McFarland, former Baldor Electric Company chief executive officer and chairman of the board, presented his ideas about what it takes to be a successful leader Oct. 10 to business students at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

McFarland spoke at the inaugural College of Business Leadership Breakfast, which was attended by more than 75 business students.

Dr. Steve Williams of Fort Smith, dean of the College of Business, said that McFarland, who retired from Baldor in June 2011, helped the company grow from $20 million in sales to $1.9 billion during his 41 years with the company.

"While John McFarland was with Baldor," said Williams, "the company moved from a minor player to the number one market share leader in the electric motor industry."

McFarland presented leadership insights focused around the theme that successful leaders are those who are able to help their followers live up to their full potential.

"A true leader is someone who removes the obstacles that are in the way of the team members achieving their full potential," said McFarland. "True leaders always put the success of the team above the success of any individual on the team."

Grace Stengel, marketing senior from Ratcliff and president of the College of Business Student Leadership Council, said she found McFarland's perspectives on leadership to be "very insightful and inspiring."

"To be able to take a small, local company to a position of international dominance in a highly competitive industry demonstrates that he definitely knows what he's talking about," said Stengel. "The personal examples and experiences he provided helped to demonstrate why his leadership style has been so successful for so many years."

Williams believes UAFS business students were fortunate to hear from such a recognized and successful leader.

"John McFarland shared his wisdom, his insights and his expertise with students who are striving to achieve the kind of success in their lives and careers that John has accomplished," said Williams. "He serves as a true role model for business graduates."

McFarland began his career with Baldor in 1970 while a student at UAFS when it was Westark Community College.

The College of Business Leadership Breakfast Series, supported by donations through the UAFS Foundation, sponsors keynote community leaders who share their leadership philosophies and perspectives with business students.

Photo(s) by: Zack Thomas, Executive Editor for University Advancement