Former Lowe’s executive Doug Robinson shares his secrets for success.
Story by Eddy Hoyle
Doug Robinson started his career as a management trainee at 84 Lumber Company, a building materials supplier in Pittsburgh. He rose through the ranks to become corporate vice president of purchasing and a board member. Robinson has over three decades of strategic operations, supply chain and merchandising experience. He has led, designed and executed domestic and international strategies for leading home improvement, appliance and building materials companies. Robinson was president of international operations and development for Lowe’s Companies, a $56 billion home-improvement retailer. Prior to joining Lowe’s, Robinson was CEO, president and board member of ARXX ICF – an innovative specialty building products company in Canada. Doug also served as CEO and president of Beaver Lumber Company in Ontario. Most recently, Doug was the CEO and director of West Marine, the leading retailer of boating supplies with over 250 locations nationally. He currently sits on the corporate boards of Tradesmen International, Conner Industries, Inc. and Weston Forest.
In 2017 Robinson retired and with his wife, Kristine, moved to the Lowcountry. He missed being involved in business operations, so he is opening a new business in Bluffton called X-Golf, an indoor golf center with golf simulator bays, weekly leagues/tournaments, corporate events and private parties. A PGA pro will be on staff to offer certified training, lessons and skills development. Robinson said, “It’s a place to come play, train and entertain.” Located in the Tanger 2 shopping center, it is scheduled to open in August.
The Robinsons moved to Spring Island because they have always loved the Lowcountry, a perfect location to pursue their passions: golf, sailing, hiking and Kristine’s love of equestrian pursuits. She is a professional horse trainer and rider. They also are active with the Spring Island Trust, the Coastal Conservation League and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here are his tips for success:
Keys to Success
1. Embrace Change. “The world changes at a rapid rate, so develop the ability to evolve,” Robinson said. “Agile leadership is needed both professionally and personally to be highly adaptive. Adapt and adjust so you can survive and prosper. Be willing to look at your business or circumstances and make changes. Embrace change.”
2. Create the Right Set of Balance. “I believe in principle-based leadership, not necessarily based on policies and procedures. It’s like a balance between art and science. I want to achieve an outcome, not just follow policies. You need flexibility and latitude for creative and innovative solutions as opposed to following rigid policies and processes, which could lead to stagnation instead of innovation. Find the right set of balance.”
3. Continuously Nurture Yourself. “Continuous growth allows you to make improvements and changes both professionally and personally. When you stop growing, you start to die. My personal mantra is to spend time making myself better. Learn, adapt skills and expand your contacts. Merge your spiritual side with your professional side, and your family to be continuously nurtured.”
4. Play Offense, Not Defense. When things change, we tend to resist and defend what we’ve already got. “We believe in our own press and success,” Robinson stated. He explained that when we have had past success, change causes us to get defensive. “That causes us to defend what we’ve always done instead of being on the offense and forward-looking.”
5. People Power. Robinson said, “You can organize and support your people, but you can’t ‘manage’ them. Support their growth and provide tools. Organize people and processes in business for desired outcomes to grow and improve. Organize processes to be outcome-focused and less procedural and process-oriented. Leaders focus on outcomes and provide others opportunities to use their skills.”