Sunday, January 8, 2012

Remembering Greg Beck


“Clayco officials said Beck was struck by a car while running near his home on Wednesday. He died early this morning from his injuries.” This news spread quickly on Thursday morning, July 16, 2009. Once again, I was reminded of how short and precious life can be. I knew Greg at HBE. I was even with him as he was considering the offer to join Clayco. We talked about the two companies (HBE and Clayco). I had worked at both places.   
Having done two tours at HBE, (the “big house on Olive Boulevard”) I had the pleasure of working with Greg Beck during my second tour of duty (as Vice President of Marketing). It was just after the first wave of HBE Financial Facilities defectors joined Clayco in 2005 - a story reported with a flourish in The St. Louis Business Journal at the time. I was in the unique position of being a person going from Clayco to HBE (instead of the other way around). 

When I first met Greg Beck, HBE needed to move quickly to shore up the Financial Facilities team, and CEO Fred Kummer tapped Greg, his Chief Financial Officer to serve double-duty and take on the added responsibility. He knew he had a good man in Greg Beck. He also must have known he’d do an excellent job in that position. He did. It was an interim assignment, but Greg took to it like a fish to water. He quickly rallied the team and created a very real sense of spirit at HBE Financial Facilities. He even had a bulletin board installed outside his office, designed to celebrate and communicate project wins. He was a lightning rod and a cheerleader for that group. He earned the respect of everyone in that division almost instantly. It’s no surprise that Clayco offered Greg the job as CFO when Mike Murphy announced his intention to retire.

By the time Greg Beck accepted the offer to join Clayco in 2006, I had already worked with him on a variety of marketing communications projects. Greg was always fair and honest. He had energy and enthusiasm about things. He was a man with a gift for numbers, but never at the expense of the intangibles. He could motivate a team and take on tasks against long odds. He was a natural leader. After Greg joined Clayco and my career took me to Thermadyne in 2006 I continued to have nothing but the highest regard for Greg Beck. I remember thinking Bob Clark (Clayco’s Chief Executive) was lucky to have him on board.

When my son, Ben, who will complete his MBA at the University of Miami in December with a degree in Finance, decided to do his Summer internship in St. Louis I suggested he contact Greg Beck for advice. Greg was so gracious. He meet with my son and shared some thoughts on career choices and the paths my son might consider. It’s this kind of generosity, thoughtfulness and effort that made Greg Beck a wonderful human being. Sometimes it is the ordinary kindness and simple gestures in life that you take for granted - until they are gone.

Greg, you will be missed. The world needs more people like you. To Greg’s wife Marianne and three children David, Emily and Steven – celebrate his life. He was one of the good guys!

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