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Top San Antonio executive bags honor as one of America’s favorite CEOs

Top San Antonio executive bags honor as one of America’s favorite CEOs

Charles Butt
Charles Butt is one of the most respected CEOs in the country. Photo courtesy of Texas State History Museum Foundation

San Antonio-based H-E-B garners rave reviews as one of America’s favorite grocery chains. Now, the CEO of H-E-B is garnering his own praise.

Job search website Glassdoor just released its annual Employees’ Choice Awards, honoring the top CEOs of 2019. Among large employers, H-E-B Chairman and CEO Charles Butt ranks second, notching a 99 percent approval rating among employees who posted reviews on Glassdoor. It’s his highest ranking ever on Glassdoor’s list; Butt claimed the No. 7 spot last year.

The 2019 ranking makes Butt the favorite CEO in all of Texas, based on Glassdoor reviews.

“The leaders featured on these lists aren’t just helping their businesses drive revenue or acquire new customers — they’re engaging, motivating and uplifting their teams, as demonstrated by the reviews employees have left on Glassdoor,” the job search website says.

At No. 1 in the 2019 ranking is Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare. Butt is in second place, followed by In-N-Out Burger’s Lynsi Snyder, T-Mobile’s John Legere, and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen.

At age 81, Butt heads a grocery company founded in 1905 by Florence Butt, his grandmother. Charles Butt started working for the family business at age 8.

In 1971, Charles Butt succeeded his father as president when H-E-B had 6,000 employees, roughly 120 stores, and $221 million in annual sales. Since then, H-E-B has grown to more than 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, with more than 116,000 employees, and annual sales exceeding $26 billion.

Today, H-E-B is the largest private employer in Texas.

“Under his leadership, the desire to constantly innovate has led to new store concepts, the creation of one of the most successful private label programs in the country, and the commitment to build out state-of-the-art digital products and services to complement H-E-B’s world-class stores,” the company says in an announcement about the Glassdoor honor.

Forbes pegs the net worth of the Butt family at $10.7 billion, making them one of the country’s wealthiest families. And while Charles Butt is a billionaire and owns a yacht valued at roughly $15 million, he’s far better known for his generosity.

In 2015, H-E-B granted company stock to more than 63,000 employees to reward “their hard work, dedication, and loyalty,” the company says.

Each year, H-E-B donates more than 5 percent of its pretax earnings to nonprofit organizations that work in areas such as education, hunger relief, military, health and wellness, social services, the environment, diversity, and the arts.

Outside H-E-B, Butt supports various causes that promote public education and literacy. This includes the nonprofit Raise Your Hand Texas initiative, which seeks to strengthen the state’s public education system.

In 2017, Charles established The Holdsworth Center, investing $100 million of his own wealth to set up a nonprofit leadership institute for Texas public school administrators. Additionally, the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers provides annual funding for up to four years as well as training and development opportunities.

Butt wasn’t the only chief executive in Texas to be honored in Glassdoor’s large-employer category. Others in the top 100 are:

  • Gary Kelly, CEO of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines; ranked 35th with a 95 percent approval rating.
  • Dr. Peter Pisters, president of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; ranked 47th with a 94 percent approval rating.
  • Peter Strebel, president of Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts; ranked 58th with a 94 percent approval rating.
  • Steve Barick, chief operating officer of Irving-based Highgate Hotels; ranked 97th with a 90 percent approval rating.