MTI CEO Kathy Adams Announces Plans to Retire After Three Decades of Leadership.
MTI is a company founded on a unique corporate culture that is due in large part to the passionate leadership of CEO Kathy Adams. Now, after more than three decades, Kathy has announced her retirement. She will certainly be missed by her MTI family as she has been a significant presence throughout the company, working daily with management and manufacturing teams. She created a corporate environment that rewards creativity, flexibility and passion. Her leaving will be bittersweet for all who had the privilege of working with her.
During her tenure as president and then CEO, Kathy provided the inspiration and motivation behind MTI’s success for over twenty years. She served as a role model of leadership, always challenging those around her to be the best in the world at what they do. She established the “3 Rs of MTI” – Respect, Responsibility and Resourcefulness – and inspired employees to live them out. Most importantly, Kathy set an example. Always welcoming to new ideas, she has been the consummate leader.
With a Master of Professional Accounting degree from Georgia State University, Kathy joined MTI Whirlpools in 1994 as CFO after having served as CPA for the company’s founder J.C. Henry. She was appointed president in 1998 and led an employee rally in 2001 to secure the necessary funding to purchase the company when Mr. Henry announced his plans to retire. During her years as president, MTI tripled its sales of tubs and firmly established its reputation as an industry leader. In the early 2000’s, Kathy’s insight and keen intuition saw the industry changing to a design-driven market where quality, innovation and designs were paramount - this designer focus was pivotal as it evolved the company into the luxury high-end bathing sector.
Kathy recognized early in her career that a company’s employees are its more valuable assets and an integral part of its success. She knew that innovative designs and technology are important, but when all your products are handcrafted and made to order, keeping employees motivated and invested in the success of the company is critical. It was this viewpoint that earned MTI repeated recognition as a Top Workplace by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This passion has led to generations of family employees, including many who have been with the company for decades.
As an avid reader, Kathy enjoys books on a variety of topics. Many who have visited MTI and met with Kathy in her office will recognize one of her favorite business titles – “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, MD. The book’s use of a simple parable to convey profound truths about change is relatable to the culture at MTI and echoes Kathy’s encouraging mantra to not be afraid of change in business and in life. As the book so beautifully summarizes, “Things change. They always have changed and always will change. And while there’s no single way to deal with change, the consequences of pretending change won’t happen is always the same: the cheese runs out.”
Kathy has always been appreciative of her customers and was the first one to communicate her thankfulness. As she often told them, “Each of us values our job and we understand that without you, our customers, there would be no job.” She made a careful study of happiness and found that “being thankful is just about the best way to attain contentment.”
Like most companies that reach a certain degree of success, MTI has a long history of going through the process of strategic planning. Kathy would study big picture economic conditions, the state of the industry and consumer trends. She counted strengths related to these findings and always looked for opportunities to build on them. Likewise, she wasn’t afraid to acknowledge weaknesses and would search for ways to overcome or work around those areas. She set the goal of SUBSTANCE FIRST and was constantly seeking ways to improve each sector of the business process.
Perhaps Kathy’s greatest contribution has been her focus on leadership development. Kathy has defined an MTI leader as one who “helps those around him/her to become successful.” Kathy’s sensitivity to the human dimension has not only contributed to the personal development of MTI employees, but also endowed MTI with a sustainable supply of leaders to ensure its continued growth.
This year MTI became a division of The Engineered Stone Group, a global leader in engineered stone products. Kathy’s vision in helping to secure this alliance has positioned MTI for exciting growth in the future. This strategic decision is just one part of the enduring legacy that Kathy leaves behind at MTI. Her contributions and impact will continue to be a vital part of MTI for decades to come. We wish her all the best and many happy years of retirement.