As a young man growing up in New York City, Lester Berry lacked the resources and education typically required to lay the groundwork for a highly successful company. What he didn't lack, however, were the vision, the dream, and the ambition that no amount of money could buy.
After working in New York and Boston for several companies that repaired bearings, he had the foresight to move to Chicago, recognizing the Midwest had the greatest industrial opportunity, and founded Berry Bearing Co. Over the course of the next several decades, the business flourished and became the largest privately held industrial bearings distributor in the world.
Mr. Berry's imagination, work ethic, and true devotion to the needs of his customers formed the foundation of his success. Despite the demands of his business, he placed a high priority on family life and the importance of always being there for the ones he loved. His example served to inspire and guide his grandson, James McWethy.
“The story of my grandfather is the classic tale of a poor, uneducated kid from New York City with a vision and a dream,” Mr. McWethy says. “He was a smart man who really understood what it took to succeed in business and in life. He had a gift for how to deal with people.
“At the time we sold, Berry Bearings had well over 1,000 employees and it was still a family business. He provided a level of service that nobody could match.”
A 1965 graduate of Cornell College with a degree in economics and business and mathematics, Mr. McWethy has carried on with that vision. He earned his master's degree in economics and was actively involved in the leadership of Berry Bearing Co. for 23 years. The business was sold in 1993 as one of the most successful companies of its kind.