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A tribute to Wally Stevens: Goodbye, Wally!

Slade Gorton & Co. President Wally Stevens retires after 16 years

By Mike Gorton
September 01, 2006

Editor's Note: Wally Stevens, president of Slade Gorton & Co., retired in August after serving the seafood industry for nearly two decades. The following is a letter from Slade Gorton & Co. CEO Mike Gorton about Stevens' contribution to his company. Aside from his leadership role at Slade Gorton, Stevens will best be remembered for his contribution to the industry in general. Stevens served as NFI's chairman in 2001and as president of the American Seafood Distributors Association in 2002. He also is credited with founding the Future Leaders program, an educational program teaching participants how seafood goes from sea to table (see sidebar on page 32).

Wally came to Slade Gorton & Co. in late 1990 from Ocean Products, a Maine farmed-salmon business, and he has served our company and the industry faithfully ever since.

He brought to Slade Gorton a hands-on style and good organizational skills. He promptly made his presence felt by continually making the rounds to personnel in all departments with both encouragement and questions as to how they together could make their departments more efficient and effective.

Wally is a good listener and has always treated his associates here with respect and consideration just as he has dealt with his relationships outside the company.

Wally made it clear from the get-go that everyone here should be customer oriented and that our customer service should be second to none. He continually reminded our associates to focus on the needs of our customers, vendors and other outside-support entities to help Slade Gorton achieve its goals. He realized that to do this, our associates needed to be motivated, committed and happy in their jobs, so Wally has always worked diligently with our department heads on ways to motivate and inspire their staff.

During his years at Slade Gorton, Wally has been a major force behind the significant improvement in 
our information and operations technologies.

In addition, he has been a big advocate for training and cross-training so that our associates acquire new skills and grow in their jobs. He has continued to reinforce our policy of promoting from within whenever possible. Wally is a consummate cheerleader and has never been easily discouraged by adversity.

He has always been able to maintain a positive, upbeat attitude and has a very good sense of humor.

Wally always has had the ability to analyze problems well, usually after seeking feedback from employees. He is both decisive and fair and has excellent judgment. His decisions reflect his high regard for ethical considerations and for our company goals. He has been self-effacing and modest and has never really cared about who got credit for our successes.

Wally continually displays the highest degree of integrity in his personal and business relationships. From the beginning, he fit our company culture like a glove and certainly helped enhance the reputation of the Gorton family business. He actually became an integral part of the Gorton family as the only non-family member on the board of directors. This is appropriate, since Wally came to our company as a consummate family man.

He has also been a big supporter of the seafood industry through NFI and the ASDA. He's of the opinion that what's good for the industry is good for Slade Gorton as well.

Wally will be missed for his steadfast leadership and loyalty to both Slade Gorton and the entire seafood industry, and so will his lovely wife, Meredith.

Nevertheless, he plans to remain involved with our company on special projects and with the NFI as president of ASDA and as one of our representatives. He certainly won't be forgotten. His son, Brad, a Wally lookalike, is currently a valued member of the team in our Los Angeles office.


Mike Gorton is CEO of Slade Gorton & Co. in Boston


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