Andy LaVallee Gives Keynote Speech at SBANE Breakfast Series
WALTHAM, MA — On St. Patrick's Day our owner and founder, Andy LaVallee, gave a presentation at the Smaller New England Business Association (SBANE) breakfast series. His talk titled "From Common Ground to Common Good...Being a Servant Leader in Uncertain Times," caught the attention of the packed room.
Reflecting back to his teenage years in the rough streets of Charlestown, Andy decided that a life working the nearby docks was not for him. Instead he began working at Quinzani's Bakery in Boston, and eventually saw an opportunity to create a business niche of his own. In 1977, at the age of 22, Andy made his initial venture by purchasing a $400 station wagon to deliver bread coming home from work. Thus, LaVallee's Bakery Distributors was born and today has grown to a successful company with twenty-three international suppliers. It serves customers as diverse as Boston College to Bill's House of Pizza, from the Roche Brothers Markets to New England Soup Factory.
However, this was not your everyday business talk with fiscal strategies and economic speculation. Andy discussed his method of faith-based servant leadership, with real-life examples. "The last will be first, and the first last," is a Biblical principle that Andy has drawn on regularly in running his business.
"There's a real ethical meaning to who much is given, much is expected," said LaVallee. "It's a simple lesson, but it's really lost. We really need to learn this as companies."
Andy then shared stories showcasing the power of virtues in the workplace. There was the employee who owned up and gave a courageous apology to a client, Andy's strategy with an out-of-line customer, and finally a surprising antidote about a loyal supplier who did the right thing. These episodes reinforced Andy's decision to lead his business with a faith-based model.
Andy finished his talk by challenging his audience to try faith-based values in their workplace and see the results. He stressed the importance of stewardship and giving back. Naturally, Andy desires to continue growing his business, but the goal is to "help and serve others." He then took a range of questions from the local business leaders.
"At LaVallee's we look at our business as a gift, it's just a possession," he said. "In our faith-based business model we take that gift very, very seriously."
Recently, Andy LaVallee cofounded the CEO Council on Hunger, a collaboration of 11 executive officers from food service companies sharing a common goal of alleviating hunger in the Boston Area.
To visit SBANE go to: www.sbane.org
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