1991 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"You have to be a good team player. You have to set high goals for yourself. Practice great discipline in everything you do."
Warren McCain was born in Logan, Kansas, in 1925, but was raised in the small town of Payette, Idaho, by his mother, who was a school teacher. McCain worked hard as a paper boy and worked all through high school to earn extra money. He graduated from Payette High School in 1943, joined the Navy in 1944, and was on one of the first ships into Japan to take the prisoners of war out of Nagasaki, where the atomic bomb had been dropped two weeks prior to their entry. After the war, he supported himself while attending Oregon State University and Illinois Institute of Technology. He was recalled into service during the Korean War in 1950 and 1951.
McCain began his career at Mountain States Wholesale in 1951. He joined Albertson's as director of general merchandise sales in 1959, and held positions of division manager, executive vice president, and president before becoming chairman and chief executive officer in 1976. He retired as CEO, but continued as chairman of the executive committee.
McCain received many accolades for his skills in running his business, including Financial World's 1990 CEO of the Year in the grocery business. He also was recognized for his leadership for public education by the Idaho Association of School Administrators. The Wall Street Transcript's Gold Award as Best Chief Executive of Supermarkets and Food Chains went to McCain in 1987, 1988, and 1989. He was Man of the Year in Idaho in 1985, and the University of Southern California's Food Executive of the Year in 1986.
McCain counseled young people to decide on the basics before moving ahead with a career. "Do you want to be with a little corporation or a big corporation? Do you want to travel? Where do you want to live? After you make those decisions and you join a company, it's important to become a good listener. Don't be too impatient for promotions because those things will come if you do what you're supposed to be doing. Above all else, you absolutely must practice great discipline in everything you do."* Deceased