TRAIL BLAZING ENTREPRENEUR JOE ANN MCCLANDON PROVES THAT SUCCESS CAN COME IN SMALL PACKAGES.
The Great Recession has done no favors for big business in the United States. While American workers have suffered with mass layoffs and stagnant wages, many corporate executives have taken major blows to their images with extravagant salaries, lifestyles and an attitude of inflated importance.
The image of the typical business executive has been dragged through the mud and is seen by some as anti-American, putting profit ahead of the workers who push the economy ahead.
Enter Joe Ann McClandon.
She is not your typical business mogul. She does not drive the flashy sports car; does not have a large corner office; or a private plane. You won’t find her wearing the latest designer suit or bringing attention to herself through the media.
The one thing she does have: A growing international business that is expanding its market share in a shaky global economy.
As CEO of Compak Companies, McClandon oversees an operation that produces the Celebration Cup, a convenient communion package that offers congregations all over the world an opportunity to have worship in an all-in-one container.
As her business continues to expand into new markets, McClandon has been able to build a brand centered around faith and family, as well as become an unassuming business leader, building one of Central Florida’s largest companies.
McClandon opened her first business in 1975, after leaving her corporate job at Bell and Howell due to com pany restructuring.She was thrust into entrepreneurship out of necessity. “I had two children and I needed to support them,” she states with conviction.
As the owner of a Chicago-based Christian book store chain, McClandon cut her teeth in the world of business, learning every aspect from marketing to finance and book keeping. As her knowledge of business grew, so did her knack for targeting opportunity.
Forming BMJ Partners, McClandon was able to diversify her interests into real estate, health care and hospitality. “We were one of the largest African-American employers in Chicago, at one point in time,” McClandon expresses with pride.
Today, BMJ Partners boasts a client list of several notable companies, like Subway and Walgreens.
Relocating to Central Florida in 1993, McClandon believed that she would be able to slow down and enjoy a less stressful life and eventually ease into retirement. But as a woman of great faith, McClandon felt her free time slipping away as God led her to her next project.
As BMJ purchased a fledgling company out of bankruptcy, the process of building a profitable brand intrigued McClandon. “After running a Christian bookstore for 28 years, I knew the need of ministries.”
In 2003, BMJ purchased the remaining shares of Compak. McClandon and her team began the process of turning the company around. “The key to success for Compak is that everyone knows their part. We are a team and we work together, no one is more important than the other.”
Today, Compak produces approximately 2 million Celebration Cups per week, making Compak one of the top 20 manufacturers in Central Florida. “To grow from a seed of faith when I opened my first store in Chicago, to now looking at how big the operation has become, I can only say ‘God did that’ as I know that this was not of my own design. It had to be divinely inspired.”
Despite her tremendous success, Joe Ann McClandon sees herself as a beacon of knowledge for other minority business leaders. “I encourage entrepreneurship,” she says with conviction. “If you have the vision, tenacity and faith, nothing can stop your vision. I did it and so can anyone, along with God’s blessing.”
As McClandon looks forward to introducing a new nutritional product to school systems in select markets throughout the U.S., she takes stock in the fact that her vision will live on through her company. “All of my children and grand-children are involved in the business. I know that they have been taught well and that they will expand with dignity and God’s authority.”