Graco CEO Pat McHale, who started in 1989 as a machinist night supervisor, took the helm in 2007, just in time for the Great Recession of 2008-09.
Graco, the Minneapolis-based manufacturer of industrial sprayers, saw sales slide and the stock slip from $40 per share to under $20 by early 2009. Graco has grown profitably to about $1.4 billion in annual revenue. And the stock has responded in spades.
Graco’s strong first quarter and upbeat outlook pushed the price over $100 per share last week and to a near-record close of $108.26 on Tuesday.
McHale wrote an email to 3,470 employees around the globe a few days ago, thanking them for their efforts and to announce that each had earned an extra paid vacation day.
“In 2008, as the global economy faced a downturn, we set an ambitious target to hit a $100 stock price… we've reached it,” McHale wrote. “I also know many of you have become Graco shareholders through our [all-employee] stock option and employee stock purchase plans, and your ownership provides you the opportunity to benefit along with the rest of our investors.”
During the lean years during after the recession, a common refrain among veterans at Graco was that they would retire “when the stock hits $100,” as if that could be 100 years.
McHale, ever the driven taskmaster, couldn’t resist concluding:“In the coming months, we'll set a new long-range objective, and I'll be looking for the same passion and enthusiasm as we achieve another milestone.”