Gary Malanowski, Chairman of the Board for 2016:
You can take the man out of Seminole, but you can’t take Seminole out of the man!
Gary attended Seminole High School in 1974-75, graduated in Indonesia, where his family served as missionaries, attended college at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, where he met Sandra, wife of 34 years. After spending 20 years with US Airways in Charlotte, N.C., Gary came back full circle to Seminole in 2003, to set up the Chick-fil-A franchise at Seminole Plaza.
In 2010, Chick-fil-A, Seminole Plaza, won the Seminole Chamber’s Business of the Year Award because of Gary’s hard work and dedication in building his business and giving back to the community. Gary has become a leader within the Seminole Chamber, serving as a Board member for several years and then taking on the increased responsibility of being Chair-elect and the future Chair.
One of Gary’s strengths is innovative marketing. Two years ago, he came up with a plan to include more youth participation in the Chamber’s annual Seminole Stampede. Gary invented the “Chick-fil-A Challenge,” whereby the school with the most participation receives a “Chick-fil-A party.” The Landsharks, a group of runners representing several middle schools and high schools, is the current title holder.
Gary said he is intentional about learning new business strategies every day and seeking out opportunities that lead toward growth. Along with giving thoughtful consideration to pursuing a Master’s Degree in Global International Studies, Gary is very much involved in the changes of his business. He is a strong proponent of John C. Maxwell, leadership guru (see the Chick-fil-A website) that involves introspection.
Gary understands the value of self-investment which requires him to look at his own generation, and strive to be equipped with knowledge of the latest trends, etc. “Physically, I seek to be cautious as my middle-age years are accelerating, and spiritually, I spend quiet time each morning in prayer and meditation,” said Gary.
Gary recognizes the importance of adding value to his workplace team. “I am finding over and over that in my business, finding the right team makes all the difference in the world. The greatest value that I can provide is to bring together a group of servant-hearted individuals who are very capable of meeting the needs of our guests. I try not to micro-manage. In other words, select trustworthy people and then trust them,” said Gary.
In maximizing his leadership potential, Gary balances risks, but is not afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are a part of the learning process; the important lesson is not to repeat them. He strives to take an interest in others and to let them see he is authentic in his communication with them. He said it is important to remember that purpose, not unlike success, is a journey, not a destination. Gary tries to be focused and strategic in all things in his life, which may be bringing a tray of Chick-fil-A “minis” to a Chamber Board meeting, or serving up orders to his packed Seminole restaurant at dinnertime.