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2023 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Chairman The Lee Company Size of organization: $400M-plus in annual sales, 1,200 employees Education: Georgetown Preparatory School; Bachelor’s degree in economics, Connecticut College; MBA in finance, University of New Haven Click here to return to the honoree page
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William “Bill” Lee is the chairman of The Lee Company, a 75-year-old family-owned manufacturing business.

Prior to July 2023, he was also the president and CEO of the company. In his current role, Lee is concentrating on long-range strategic issues, shareholder relations and corporate governance topics.

In his prior role, he was responsible for all aspects of the company’s management. He is a tireless advocate for family businesses.

What have been your biggest professional accomplishments over the past year?

My biggest professional accomplishments center around the recognition and promotion of talented people. I have received great satisfaction in seeing the way the organization has developed over the years, with so many people being able to realize success beyond what they ever thought was within them.

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In what ways are you involved in the community?

I’ve been involved in numerous community organizations, including being a founder of the Shoreline Foundation. I have been a member of the board of The Guilford Savings Bank for over 20 years and currently serve as chair. Stewarding a community bank like GSB is immensely rewarding due to the bank’s importance in the entire community.

On the job

Guiding business principle: Say yes! I have always tried to seize opportunities, even if they weren’t readily apparent at the outset. I have attended many meetings that I wondered if they would be worth my time, only to uncover a great opportunity. I encourage people to get out of their comfort zone, expend a bit of extra energy and make their own opportunities.

Best way to keep your competitive edge: I have been a lifelong learner. Early in my career, I attended a ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ conference and have lived by the ‘Sharpen the Saw’ motto. Keep up to date and learn new skills.

Best business decision: Joining The Lee Company. I had a career in banking, then started my own consultancy. It was clear that I was going to have a difficult time leveraging my energies as a sole practitioner, and the nature of what I was doing didn’t lend itself to significant expansion. Joining The Lee Company opened me up to a much larger organization where I could fully utilize my skills.

Worst business decision: Approving a new product development that was a bit outside our traditional practice. So far, the best thing to be said for it was, it was a ‘learning experience!’

Biggest missed opportunity: Though I worked summers at the company, I joined the business after my father had his stroke and I didn’t get the chance to work with him inside the business as an adult.

Goal yet to be achieved: My greatest business goal is to see the company thrive as a family-owned business through the generations. That has to be earned every day so it can never really be considered permanently achieved.

Personal touch in your office: A wall of photos I took while in the Galápagos Islands.

Personal side

City of residence: Guilford

Favorite way to relax: Anything to do with being outside

Hobbies: Boating, golf, tennis/pickleball, hiking, family

Last vacation: Short cruise to the eastern end of Long Island

Favorite movie: “Top Gun: Maverick”

The car you drive: Ford Explorer

Currently reading: Wall Street Journal every day. Not much time for books.

Favorite cause: Lee Company Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for the spouses and children of Lee Company employees

Second choice career: Board member for family businesses

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