Robert Stuart

Robert Stuart
Robert Stuart

Founding Chairman
National Minority Supplier Development Council

Robert Stuart has been involved in literally dozens of service organizations in addition to being CEO and chairman of the National Can Corporation, a Fortune 500 corporation.

Though he received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois after World War II, Mr. Stuart joined the family business–Cans Incorporated.

In 1951, his father sold his Chicago-based company to the National Can Corporation. And within 10 years, Mr. Stuart had worked himself up to president, and then chief executive. He expanded the National Can Corporation into an international company; and with his leadership, the company achieved the highest earnings for an entire decade among all publicly owned companies, according to Forbes magazine.

Service and vision were keys to Mr. Stuart’s management style. He understood the importance of serving customers, suppliers and shareholders.

Mr. Stuart knows how to delegate and inspire workers, His management style can be seen in how he juggled his many service organizations, at the same time. He has worked with and often led groups in youth development, health care, crime prevention, church life and education.

Mr. Stuart was the founding chairman of the National Minority Supplier Development Council, which helps minority-owned businesses sell to large corporations competitively. “We convinced corporations to arrange to buy a significant percentage from minority-owned businesses,” Mr. Stuart said. “And it worked.” In 2003, member companies delivered $80.2 billion worth of business to minority-owned companies.

After retirement in 1986, Mr. Stuart financed an increasing involvement with service organizations, working with as many as three dozen at a time. Today, he and his wife live in Cape Coral, Florida. At Christmas time, you may spot him standing outside a store ringing a bell for the Salvation Army.

He is a past board member of the Chicago Regional Purchasing Council, a member of the Chinese American Civic Council, past honorary board member of the U.S. Asia Institute and past chair of the Grand Council of the American Indian Center. As Doug Peterson wrote in a profile of Mr. Stuart on the University of Illinois Web site, quoting another alumnus, Stuart finds “great joy in casting a wide net in service to others.”