“Everybody can do something positive every day. Work hard, do it in the right way, and do it every day.” That’s an attitude that propelled Herschel Walker to the Heisman Trophy as a Georgia Bulldog, into NFL stardom, and the transition to starting his own business.
“One of the things I learned from my mom is if you give a man a job, you give him self-worth,” says Walker. “I wanted to start a company to be able to do that for people.”
In 1999, he created Renaissance Man Food Services with the desire to provide communities with quality foods and help people live a happier, healthier lifestyle. In 2010, Renaissance Man became a valued partner in Marriott’s supply chain.
Some celebrities are known to own companies that they have almost no involvement in, but not Herschel. Just like in football, he jumps in and works right alongside his team.
Herschel Walker and Chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton at the FARE 2014 culinary conference.
“If your name is on it, you’ve got to get involved,” says Walker. “When I started this company, I was doing 2 to 3 food service shows a week. People wondered why I was working so hard. It’s because the only way to be successful is to do the work and stand behind it. If you play football, you practice before the game. These shows were like practices.”
The practices paid off. Not only is Renaissance Man Food Services well into its second decade of operation, the company has been honored as one of SYSCO Corporation’s Top 100 Suppliers every year since 2004. Renaissance Man was also honored with the Marriott International Diversity & Inclusion Award in 2014 for outstanding partnership and service.
His company’s success validates Walker’s conviction that hard work and success go hand in hand. “If you work hard, you’ll accomplish something. It might not be what you thought you were going to do, but you achieve something. This allows you to open up other doors that you wouldn’t have thought about.”
“You have to stay the course and not give up, which is not easy to do,” he says. “This is why I appreciate working with Marriott because they have been patient with us as we learn.”
“I think a lot of businesses don’t stay with it, so they don’t achieve that success. Some companies give up on the hard work, because they don’t think they’ll make it. I tell them they’re not going to do it overnight. I always tell them, look for a hand up, not a hand out. You have to stay focused.”