Loyola is honoring McCormick's CEO

Tonight: Robert J. Lawless will receive the Sellinger School's "Business Leader of the Year" award at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel.

November 15, 2001|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

A former hockey player who made it to the top of his industry without the imprimatur of an M.B.A. degree will be honored tonight as Loyola College's "Business Leader of the Year," a prestigious designation awarded annually by the Sellinger School of Business and Management.

Robert J. Lawless, chairman, president and chief executive of McCormick & Co. Inc., will receive the honor at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore. With 1,000 tickets sold at $100 each, it is the largest turnout in the event's 17-year history.

"My immediate reaction [to the Loyola award] was that there obviously are much more powerful, successful CEOs in the city and you should look at them first, and if you go down the list and get to me, fine," Lawless, 54, said yesterday.

The award, he said, is a reflection of McCormick's 112-year presence in the state and of the work of its employees.

"It's not about me; it's about McCormick & Co. and our philosophies and values," he said.

The award's past recipients include William Jews, head of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and Charles M. Cawley, chairman and CEO of MBNA America Bank, N.A.

Lawless, a native of Canada who graduated from Ontario's St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology in 1968, joined McCormick subsidiary Club House Foods in 1977 as distribution manager.

He became senior vice president of McCormick/Schilling in Sparks in 1994. He rose to CEO in 1997 and chairman in March 1999.

Under Lawless' direction as CEO, Sparks-based McCormick has seen its profit more than triple - to $137.5 million last year on sales of $2 billion. He orchestrated the September 2000 purchase of the world's second-largest spice company, Paris-based Ducros.

"Under the guidance of Robert Lawless, McCormick has become one of the world's leading food companies while maintaining its distinctive, employee-oriented culture," said the Rev. Harold Ridley, S.J., president of Loyola.

Lawless, who lives in Hunt Valley with his wife of 32 years, Cathy, is on the boards of the United Way of Central Maryland, the Grant-A-Wish Foundation, the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, the Junior Achievement of Central Maryland Executive Council and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, to which the Lawlesses donated $1 million this year.

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