One of the great stories in modern business is Southwest Airlines. No question about it, no getting around it, that company is just a great story. Fun to hear about and fun to talk about and at the root is the amazing story of founder Herb Kelleher and his relationship with the employees. There were two quotes from a recent New York Times article that tell part of the story behind the story:
The Southwest pilots union is in the process of negotiating a new
contract with management (as is American Airlines). But not only did the Southwest pilots not set
up a picket line, they took out a full page ad in USA Today thanking
Mr. Kelleher for all he had done. “The pilots of Southwest Airlines
want to express our sentiment to Herb that it has been an honor and a
privilege to be a part of his aviation legacy,” said the union
president, Carl Kowitzky, in a statement.
(Later in the meeting) when he (Kelleher) brought up the pilots ad — and when he talked about how much
the company’s employees meant to him — he wept. “I’m Lucky Herbie for
having all of these years with all of you,” he said. More than a few
people in the audience wept right along with him.
Thanks to the 37signals blog for the link to the article.