Chris Rice

President and CEO
Welch Equipment Company

Location: Denver, CO
Founded: 1985
Industry: Material Handling

Chris Rice made a sign to display in the Welch Equipment Company office that encapsulates his view of staff development and growth.

The sign reads: “Leaders Develop Leaders.”

That core belief, coupled with his skill, humbleness and humor, is how Rice approaches his role as president and CEO, a job he took over in August.

“As a Toyota-owned company, we believe in Kaizen ... or constant improvement,” Rice said. “Get better every day in every aspect of our business. That, combined with our devout belief in servant leadership, provides a foundation to my leadership progression that propels me on a journey that will never be complete. I want to develop future leaders that are better than me. Good leaders are humble. If I happen to be an influential leader in my industry, wonderful. ... But I’ll always strive to be better.”

Welch Equipment is a distributor for the material handling industry and aims “to be the premier destination in material handling solutions by advancing the success of our partners through providing effective, efficient solutions and elite customer service.”

The company, founded by Duane Welch in 1985 with five employees, has grown to more than 250 employees and locations in four states.

Rice stepped into his new leadership role last year after 25 years with Welch Equipment, most recently as executive vice president of sales. Rice was integral to the company’s growth from a $50 million operation to $100 million over the last seven years.

Rice spent the five-month transition period into his CEO and president role learning and listening, absorbing and understanding each of the company’s 16 revenue divisions. He’s added new software and networks and is building out the marketing team and starting a specialty products group.

“He leads with courage, kindness, grace, but also with a fierce force that is to be reckoned with. Which says a lot when a person can be so fierce but do it with kindness and grace,” Rice’s staff said.

His focus is on the long-term future and success of the company, Rice said.

“I’m thinking two generations ahead,” Rice said. “My team is starting to think the same way — giddy up!”

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"He leads with courage, kindness, grace, but also with a fierce force that is to be reckoned with; which says a lot when a person can be so fierce but do it with kindness and grace."

Chris says: