August 02, 2011
Jim McEachern, long time CEO of The Tom James Company, the world's largest manufacturer of custom men's suits and fine clothing, passed away at his home on July 12, 2011. He was 75.
McEachern was one of only 3 CEOs in the company's 45 year history and is known for being a man who took great interest in people. The company's mission: We Build People and People Build our Company was the foundation behind many of McEachern's business principles.
"Jim served as an example to me and literally to thousands of others for how we should live our lives," said Spencer Hays, founder of Tom James. "He influenced so many people and that influence will continue for years to come."
Hays and McEachern became acquainted while selling books for the Southwestern Company, based in Nashville, TN. Southwestern offers college students a unique summer work opportunity selling educational materials door to door.
Hays progressed into a management position at Southwestern and having struggled to find time to shop for a professional wardrobe, figured others did, too. His idea was to create a company of clothiers who would help educate professionals on how to dress and offer high quality/high value wardrobe options. Hays was just 30 years old at the time.
The first Tom James store opened in Nashville in 1966. Hays tapped McEachern to help open that store and the following year moved him to Atlanta to open a second location. At that time, the sales model was to call on professionals and invite them to come to the store for a professional fitting and wardrobe consultation.
It was McEachern who hit upon the idea of bringing the clothing options directly to the clients in their homes or offices, after a client asked, "You've got my measurements. Why don't you just bring the fabrics to my office?"
In June 1967, McEachern sold seventy-two custom suits, all in customers' offices. That literally changed the approach and the Tom James Company concept of ‘We Come to You with Fine Clothing' was born.
McEachern is known to have practiced the Positive Pygmalion philosophy in building people. The concept, as studied by Rosenthal-Jacobson, suggests that when teachers were led to expect more from their students, the students very often performed to the level of expectation.
McEachern perhaps embraced that philosophy because he saw it applied in his own life.
A child of divorce at age 5, he was sent to live with his grandparents. At age 15, when their health failed, he lived with his mother and alcoholic step-father. From ages 16 – 19, he lived in no fewer than 7 places and went to 3 different schools.
At age 19 he was still a junior in high school. He eventually dropped out, but passed the GED and enrolled in Howard Payne University, an institution he supports to this day.
McEachern married his wife of 53 years, Arlene, and was drafted by the Army. It was there he goal-set to finish college, which he did in 1962. He began his career as a public school teacher at a salary of $4400/year.
Hays saw something in McEachern. Others passed him over for opportunities, yet Hays saw someone with whom he was willing to build a company.
"There was a turning point in Jim's life where he made a decision that he would work on the controllables…that life is not what happens to you, it's how you react to it," stated Hays. "Jim learned to train his emotions. You know, that's something that's not taught in schools. We are so smart we can put a man on the moon, but we don't know how to get along with each other."
Getting along is something McEachern took seriously. Like Hays, he made it a habit to see people for what they could become and that philosophy encouraged strong relationships.
"He had a special gift of making me feel that his message was tailor made for me; as if I was the only person that mattered," offered Whit Behrens, a Tom James clothier in San Francisco. "When people know you truly believe in them, they want to be around you as you are always building them up, and the relationships you forge are life-long."
McEachern became President of Tom James in 1973, Chairman and CEO in 1984, and was named Senior Executive Officer in 1998. He saw Tom James from sales of $165,000 in 1967 to sales of over $259,000,000 upon his retirement in 2008.
Whatever McEachern's title, he was as much counselor as executive. "The most important challenge will always be for people to be able to get a vision of their own possibilities," said McEachern in an interview in 2003. "Most people seem to be limited by how well they are doing now and have difficulty being able to see themselves doing a whole lot better."
McEachern's life was testimony to his proclaimed motto: "Do all the good that you can, for all the people that you can, by all the means you can, for as long as you can." --John Wesley.
McEachern is survived by his wife, Arlene, 4 children, 16 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Tom James Company has dedicated the remainder of 2011 to James E. McEachern and has asked all its clothiers to live as an example, just as their one-time leader, Jim McEachern, would live.
Tom James is celebrating its 45th year. It operates 104 offices in 36 US states and 5 countries, internationally. It owns and operates 3 woolen mills, 8 factories and is proud to say over 70%* of its products are made in the USA.
For more information, consult http://www.tomjames.com.
*According to ABC World News with, only 2% of clothing purchased in the US is actually made there.
For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prwebjim-mceachern-dies/tom-james-co/prweb8675368.htm