CPG veteran Steve Blair launching business to advise clients on company culture

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 431 views 

Transform people and business around the world through remarkable growth” is the vision statement of Harvest Group.

The omnichannel retail agency in Rogers helps consumer packaged goods (CPG) suppliers for Amazon, Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart grow their business with those retailers.

In his role as the company’s vice president of people and culture, Steve Blair of Fayetteville has lived that vision for the past seven years. He contributed significantly to the company’s growth from 30 employees in 2015 to nearly 250 in four markets and two countries today.

“He kept us laughing, singing, and dancing through the stresses of hypergrowth,” CEO and co-founder Ross Cully said. He worked for Procter & Gamble’s Walmart team before he and two colleagues left to start the business in 2006. “If there were a list of five people who have had the biggest impact on our organization, Steve is on it. If there were a list of five people who have had the biggest impact on my life, Steve is on it.”

That was Cully’s social media tribute to a colleague who leaves big shoes to fill. Blair, a veteran of the region’s CPG ecosystem since the 1990s, resigned from Harvest Group in late July and is launching an advisory called Culture Collaborative.

“I’ve always felt the importance of a healthy culture in any growth-minded organization,” he said. “Over my career so far, I’ve seen what’s possible when organizations and leaders align on a purposeful mission and goals and prioritize the people and the health of the organization.”

Steve Blair

Blair is from Kansas City, Mo., and spent 16 years (1993-2009) working in various leadership roles for Procter & Gamble. He worked for other suppliers and a publishing company before connecting with Cully — whom he hired as an intern at P&G in Fayetteville years earlier — and Harvest Group in 2015.

Blair, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2009 Forty Under 40 class, said the idea of what the company’s vision statement might mean for him started to percolate about a year ago. After some “encouraging and thoughtful” conversations with Cully, Blair is pursuing that vision by helping organizations build and scale purposeful cultures that attract the best talent.

“The last two years have been the most challenging and unpredictable for people and culture leaders of the last three decades or more,” Blair said. “There has never been a more important time for organizations to understand what their teams need, what inspires and motivates them, and how to deliver unique, meaningful, authentic engagement. I’m passionate and excited to help more organizations understand and realize the impact of efforts in these critical areas.”

Blair said he’ll spend the next couple of months “finishing and transitioning well” at Harvest Group, studying his target market, listening to leaders and planning for a scalable launch in January.