Clay was emphatic that Iams’ #1 priority was its customers —cats and dogs around the world — and rallied the global team to enhance the wellbeing of dogs and cats by delivering world-class foods.
Clay took it upon himself to create an environment where employees found meaning in their work, were respected as individuals, and came together to contribute to high-performing teams.
Clay’s promise to produce the highest quality pet foods manifested in the organization’s world-class manufacturing practices, ingredients, nutrition, and commitment to continuous improvement.
There's a reason CCPP begins with “customer;” Clay was a devout believer in putting the customer first. Fueled by his commitment to doing what’s right, he insisted that Iams deliver on its “good for life” promise: to enhance the wellbeing and extend the lives of beloved cats and dogs by delivering world-class foods.
While Iams’ primary customers were cats and dogs, Clay also oriented the company to another audience: people who saw pets as part of the family.
This point of view — like many of Clay’s — was pioneering; during a time when most animals, especially those in rural America, lived outdoors, Iams was focused on animal lovers who welcomed their pets into their beds at night.
This reverence for the company's animal and human customers trickled into every part of the organization and was practiced by scientists, sales team members, and secretaries alike.
Upon purchasing Iams, Clay’s conviction for doing what was right transformed from his individual moral compass into Iams’ cultural and collective commitment. As he aligned the organization to a set of values that prioritized honesty, integrity, and dignity, he raised the quality of life for individual employees and created an environment where everyone — no matter the position — could thrive.
Before “workplace culture” was part of everyday vernacular, Clay was championing the work of intentionally nurturing Iams’ organizational environment, behaviors, and values. He believed that when every team member committed to three responsibilities – be honest, do your best, and treat others with dignity and respect – people, teams, and the entire organization would thrive.
In doing this work, Clay learned what’s common knowledge now: When employees are respected as whole individuals and experience harmony between work and home, they thrive. When team members are given the resources and freedom they crave, they do incredible work. When people feel appreciated, valued, and respected, they stick around for the long term. And when teams are united in pursuit of a common goal, they tap into exponential potential.
In the end, the culture Clay led made working for Iams feel less like the daily grind and more like being part of a purpose-driven, global family.
Iams’ promise to produce the highest quality cat and dog food began before Clay purchased the company; its founder, Paul Iams, was insistent on quality and personally studied animal nutrition science.
Clay continued Paul’s precedent through his unyielding dedication to quality. In his words: “Quality isn’t the most important thing; it’s everything.”
Clay's commitment to quality saturated Iams as employees throughout the company shared his vision to be a pet nutrition world leader. The Iams team operated world-class manufacturing facilities that exceeded industry standards; the company stayed on the leading edge of nutrition science to produce the highest quality food that led to longer lives for dogs and cats; and the entire organization’s focus on continuous improvement meant things were always getting better.
Most notably, while other pet food companies were packing their products with fillers, Clay insisted on using premium, raw ingredients — all before it was popular to be ingredient-conscious. Even when cutting costs and corners would have made financial sense, he stood firm on Iams’ decision to prioritize product over profits.
As CEO, Clay empowered a thriving team committed to improving the lives of dogs and cats. He aligned them to a mission and vision, armed them with the resources they needed, provided development opportunities through Iams University, and then — trusting and believing in them fully — got out of their way so they could do great work.
A values-driven leader, Clay honored the dignity of every individual. That simple, principled choice produced some of the most wildly high-performing teams in the history of pet nutrition; to this day, they call themselves not a team, but a family.
It wasn’t just employees who felt the personal impact of Clay’s reverential leadership. Recognizing the magnitude of his vision to be a global leader in pet nutrition, Clay engaged a team of like-minded veterinarians, distributors, breeders, and pet store owners who were crucial to Iams’ success.
More of Clay’s values — learning, development, and continuous improvement — were installed through Iams University: a training and development resource for employees, partners, and customers. Through Iams University, the Iams community grew their knowledge of nutrition science, their business aptitude, and the potential of the company as a whole.