On Aug. 28, university president Dr. Randy O’Rear announced that the College of Business will now be named the McLane College of Business. The decision was made public at Convocation, right before McLane addressed the audience as the keynote speaker.
“It’s a great honor…. At first we didn’t think we deserved something like this, but they continued to talk to us, and we felt it was a great honor and we just feel very honored to be associated with the university,” McLane said in a press conference after Convocation.
He also talked about his involvement in the community and university.
“I’ve always felt a part of UMHB, and we have made contributions in the past. I’ve made talks at the business school over the last few years and felt a part of it even though I didn’t go to school here,” he said.
McLane is the former owner of the Houston Astros, member of a successful family business and strong supporter of Christian universities.
“I think what we need in America and in Texas more is higher Christian education. Christian universities are kind of declining in population .… I think a certain amount of the population really wants to be involved in Christian higher education.”
He is not the only one who feels honored to have his name associated with the university. Interim dean of the College of Business Dr. Paul Stock is happy to have the name McLane recognized with the college.
“We’re pretty excited about it. Drayton McLane and the McLane family have had a relationship with UMHB for a long time. And it kind of raises the bar for us because the way the McLane family stands for integrity and honesty and community service with Christian values, and we’re hoping it really inspires our students and faculty going forward,” Stock said.
McLane was born in Cameron, Texas, and after attending college, he returned to Cameron where he began working the family’s wholesale grocery business. Being family did not provide him any shortcuts to success.
O’Rear retold the story, saying McLane’s father “believed that to be an effective leader, you had to earn the respect of all of the employees. So he offered Drayton a job loading trucks on the night shift.”
Over the next 20 years, McLane worked his way through the ranks of the business and eventually became the executive vice president.
In 1978 he became the president and chief executive officer.
The McLane Company is a food distribution company that sells large quantities to super markets, convenience stores, restaurants and others.
McLane took the company’s annual sales from $2.5 million to more than $19 billion.
Where he truly left his mark on the industry, however, was in the way he used technology to heighten efficiency. Using new ideas, the McLane Company’s annual sales growth was 30 percent or more for 32 consecutive years.
In November of 1992 he purchased the Houston Astros and sold the team in 2011. During his years of ownership, the Astros enjoyed their greatest success and had the fifth highest winning percentage of all baseball, although the team came just short of winning a World Series.
“Although the world championship didn’t come to Houston, if you talk to a lot of folks in Houston … they will tell you when it comes to serving your community and being invested and engaged in those around you and caring about people and making a difference where you live and where you work—in terms of community service, the McLane family brought the world championship to Houston, Texas,” O’Rear said.
However, McLane’s greatest achievement is not the success his business has had, but how he achieved it. Fairness and integrity are hallmarks of the McLane Company.
“After some of the unethical business practices that are on the media … it’s good to have a code of ethics like the McLane family has. I think business ethics and Christian values are the core of our curriculum,” Stock said.
Stock and other UMHB professors recognize the McLane family’s priorities.
He said, “It’s something we try to instill in our students often, and I think this will help us encourage integrity, honesty, ethical and Christian values, something that we want our students to walk away with.”