One-on-one with Kristin Mays-Corbitt

Bill Mays’ daughter speaks candidly about her father, discusses growth of multi-million dollar chemical company

By Sydney Wilson

Kristin Mays-Corbitt

Kristin Mays-Corbitt

You’ve been involved with Mays Chemical Co. since 1995.  What are some of those early lessons you learned from your dad that continue to resonate with you today?
He demanded excellence. He always said, “You need to have a minimum standard of excellence. Work towards and go beyond that.” In addition to striving for excellence, he stressed the importance of being assertive. He always wanted my sister and me to be polite, but also assertive. There was no whining to Bill Mays. No turning on the girl voice.

Bill Mays was the consummate businessman and philanthropist. What lesson do you want people to learn based on your father’s life?
My dad helped so many people and really invested his time, talent and treasure. If there is one lesson I hope people take from his life, it is the importance of giving back. I encourage other entrepreneurs and business leaders to invest in the development of others so we can make Indiana a better place – socially and economically.

Explain ways your father encouraged his employees to invest in the community. Why is doing so essential to the fabric of this state?
He required giving back. I always thought it was special how he required all senior managers to serve on boards in the community. He urged everyone to give to the United Way. If you didn’t give to the United Way on some level, you had to go in and explain to him why you did not choose to give. He was really an advocate for making sure the city thrived.
It’s important to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. Part of that walk is ensuring your employees demonstrate the core values of the company in everything they do. At Mays Chemical, it’s always been part of our moral fabric to give back in a variety of ways. From a self-fulfilling perspective we benefit, but more importantly, the community benefits.

You’ve served as president of Mays Chemical Co. for the past couple of years and the company continues to thrive internationally.  What are your plans to continue on this trajectory?
Since its inception nearly 35 years ago, Mays Chemical has committed itself to operating with integrity, exceptional expertise and the highest degree of excellence. Moving forward, we will continue to operate under those core values that have helped catapult Mays Chemical into the internationally-ranked leader it is today. Some short-term goals are to increase sales and expand business by penetrating industries which we haven’t tapped. We will also continue to look for great talent in the industry and remain committed to continuous training that only helps to further execute our goals.

You are an African-American woman leading a multi-million dollar company in an industry dominated by men. How do you deal with the pressure?
Both my parents instilled in my sister and me sheer determination to not only succeed, but to do so confidently and in a way that transcends racial and gender bias. All I have done and will continue to do is perform at the highest level possible. When you do that, even if the outcome isn’t always what you hoped for, you still win.  I just try my absolute best. It’s a message I instill in my employees and my children. I can’t allow myself to worry about being a minority racially or gender-wise because that can oftentimes be a heavy load to bear. Instead, I focus all my energy on performing at the highest level possible.