Chris Connor

Ohio State '78

Chris Connor

Chmn./CEO, Sherwin-Williams

Connor, 54, joined Sherwin-Williams in 1983 as advertising director for its paint stores. His 28 years with the company aren’t unusual; Sherwin-Williams is known for its remarkable skill at retaining and promoting employees.

The president and COO, John Morikis, started as a floor-sweeper. Turnover among its retail employees is only about 5 percent annually. “When we share that number with people — Wall Street analysts, others who follow retail chains — that number always blows them away,” Connor says.

Connor does his part to let employees know they’re valued, says Tom Hopkins, Sherwin-Williams’ senior vice president for human resources. Connor calls a sampling of the company’s 36,000 worldwide employees on their birthdays and anniversaries. He and Hopkins took three winners of a pride-in-Cleveland slogan contest to the Cavs-Heat game in December. They’ve also led the company’s teams in charity bike races such as Pedal to the Point.

“The guy doesn’t have to do that,” Hopkins says, “but he’s there in front, wearing riding togs and eating Hostess Twinkies.”