Meet the business executive who helped Kmart to bounce back from bankruptcy in the 2000s

Stephen Nartey June 08, 2023
Today, Alywin is known as one of America’s most highly accomplished business executives, with a 40-year career managing renowned brands. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Texas native, Aylwin Lewis, took up the most important role in his life when he was 50 years old. He was named the president and Chief Executive Officer of Kmart Holding Corporation in 2004. To Aylwin, this meant occupying one of the highest offices in US retail industry history.

This was bolstered by an $11 billion merger that Kmart entered with leading American retailer, Sears, Roebuck, and Co., placing him as the head of the third largest retail chain in the US. He joined the company when its revenue was on the decline and was faced with bankruptcy. However, he turned the company around from insolvency, creating an empire of nearly 3,500 stores and $55 billion in potential sales, according to Encyclopedia.

Aylwin grew up in a family that taught him to be honest and work hard at any job he got. His father worked a number of jobs at a pipe-bending company for many years. With the premium placed on education by the family, Aylwin attended the University of Houston after graduating from high school. He completed a dual bachelor’s degree in business management and English literature by 1976.

His initial career ambition was to be an academic, however, in a bid to pay off his graduate school costs, he took a job with the fast food chain, Jack in the Box, while turning his attention to his doctorate degree in English literature.

While on the job, he felt that academia wasn’t where his interest lay after all. He was captivated by the idea of serving customers, and was actively involved in what menu was served to customers, as well as food quality when he rose to the position of assistant manager. He returned to the University of Houston for his M.B.A. and later began a long spell of a career in the fast food industry as a top executive, according to Encyclopedia.

He is known for his strong work ethic and also for inspiring his team, helping them to operate at their very best; he was affectionately called Coach by his team members.  

Today, Alywin is known as one of America’s most highly accomplished business executives, with a 40-year career; managing renowned brands such as Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, and A&W All-American Food – where he served in leadership positions.

Alywin’s stewardship has been described as one that was driven by the idea of being an agent of change and an ideal leader. He has demonstrated broad expertise and industry influence throughout his career. This undoubtedly exemplifies his deep understanding of the industry, his strategic vision, and commitment to driving positive change.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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