Larry Porterfield, CEO, MidwayUSA

Larry Porterfield, CEO, MidwayUSA

WINNER – Master Entrepreneur

Larry Potterfield



Larry Porterfield has learned throughout his career the importance of leading by example in order to drive change.

As CEO of MidwayUSA, a catalog and Internet retailer of shooting, hunting and outdoor products, he has led his team to double-digit business growth and improved operational performance by doing exactly that.

When Potterfield realized that the company’s operational model was not going to support the kind of business growth that he anticipated over the next decade, he suggested a new criteria called the Baldridge Criteria for Performance Excellence — an approach that includes cutting-edge leadership and management principles and technologies — to help the company scale for growth.

However, he soon realized that every attempt to implement the Baldridge approach was failing to gain traction.

It was when Potterfield read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell that he realized what he needed to do to successfully transform the business.

According to Gladwell’s research, it takes just 10 percent of a group to effect massive change.

While Potterfield knew that he needed to lead by example, what he was missing was a dedicated team that was invested in driving the operational transformation.

So with Gladwell’s lesson in mind, Potterfield recruited 10 percent of the company’s workforce — 27 managers in all — and began educating them on the Baldridge criteria, showing them why it was an effective approach and why they should get behind it.

In 2006, Potterfield’s strong team of supporters began advocating the new criteria across the organization, and soon, the enthusiasm was spreading.

Potterfield’s successful leadership of the operational transformation culminated in 2009, when MidwayUSA received a national Baldridge award.