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12 People You Need to Know in 2017: Jack Stack

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Jack Stack is perhaps one of the most well-known businesspeople in the Springfield area’s history. 

Up there with the likes of John Q. Hammons and Johnny Morris, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the Queen City business community that doesn’t know his name. 

There’s his storied tale of business success, starting when he and other employees scraped together funds and borrowed $9 million to buy Springfield ReManufacturing Corp. from parent company International Harvester and keep it from closing. They’ve turned it into a multidivision, employee-owned corporation with more than 1,500 employees and $550 million in annual revenue. In what’s considered by some as a legendary turnaround, shares of SRC since have increased by over 360,000 percent. The company has spun off 65 businesses, Stack says. 

Then there’s his writing of “The Great Game of Business,” a book outlining the concept of open-book management that’s now used by thousands of companies. Fortune magazine once called Stack one of the top 10 minds in small business, and Inc. Magazine has counted him among the smartest strategic planners in America. Stack was named the 2000 Springfieldian by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, and a year later, he earned Springfield Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement in Business award.  

Stack is quick to downplay his accolades and successes. 

“The whole idea of notoriety puts undue pressure on a person,” he says. “I try to be a very humble person. Sometimes we interpret leaders and they have a tendency to disappoint you.

“I don’t want to disappoint anybody.” 

Speaking to “The Great Game of Business” – which spawned a company by the same name to help those convert to open-book management – Stack says he only penned what many already knew to be true in their hearts. When employees have a financial stake in their company, they care more. 

“It wasn’t rocket science,” Stack says of the book co-authored by Bo Burlingham. “A long time ago, this way of running a company was in the hearts and the guts and intuition of people. No one wrote a book about it. No one ever tried it.” 

Stack calls the book’s success – it’s been the No. 1 ranked business paperback by Nielsen BookScan ratings – a matter of good timing, the modern equivalent of going viral. 

Up next for Stack is quite the challenge: retirement. He gave it a try in 2006, but says he’s now working harder than he was then. 

Stack now is targeting 2018 in line with SRC’s 35th year in business. 

In the works for 10 years is Stack’s succession plan called, “Ready, Aim, Fire.”

 “I’m very serious when it comes to trying to build this company and leaving it to the next generation.”

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