When Mason Greene was attending Mississippi State University (MSU), he was a member of the Bulldogs’ men’s tennis program. During his time in Starkville, Miss., Greene did very well for himself. Not only did he garner both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MSU, he also was selected for the Southeastern Conference’s All-Academic Team in tennis.
While learning how to slice his backhand and put more topspin on his serve were very helpful, being a Division I student-athlete taught Greene an important lesson he still puts to good use in the business world each day. “Being an athlete in college and being on the tennis team, I learned the discipline and the drive to succeed,” Greene says. “We had a very diverse team, we worked hard, and the discipline, I think that translates into business. Our team was in the top 10 in the nation. I was able to be a part of a successful program, and I have that experience of being a part of a great team.”
Having that exemplary drive to succeed continues to benefit Greene as the president of Hotel & Restaurant Supply (H&R) in Meridian, Miss. Greene also understands teamwork plays an integral role in the success of any organization. “I also know one can’t truly make significant achievements without great support, so I feel like this recognition is even more a reflection of the people I have around me, from my wife and family to our talented and dedicated team at H&R,” he adds. “I honestly am growing in the fact that a lot of the times we achieve more when I get out of the way! A lot of times you just feel like you are trying to do the best you can with what is in front of you and feel like that is never enough to accomplish all you truly want and need to.”
All in the Family
H&R was founded by Greene’s grandfather, P.B., in 1953. Jerry Greene, Mason’s father, joined the company in 1966. Mason followed the family’s legacy 37 years later when he joined H&R. Today the company has three locations in Mississippi, two in Tennessee and one in Alabama.
“My father never pressured me into joining the company,” Greene says. “I started college and was considering going into a medical field, but that wasn’t for me, so I quickly began pursuing a general business degree and completed my MBA. I worked with a college ministry for three years after completing my MBA and then felt a desire to join the family business. Now, almost 18 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
A major factor in Greene’s positive feelings regarding H&R can be attributed to the strong relationship he has built over the years with his father. “I definitely feel blessed for the opportunity I have had to work with my dad and to continue growing and shaping the business,” Greene said. “I greatly admire what my dad and the longtime team members of H&R have accomplished.
“There can be a little pressure there in continuing that [legacy], but I mainly feel there is a great opportunity for this next generation to continue to grow from what has been established and to carry on and accentuate the values and culture that have gotten us to where we are,” Greene adds. “I am very excited about the next season or phase we are entering as a company.”
Fathers are known for dispensing solid, useful advice to their children. In the case of the Greene family, however, viewing how his father treated H&R’s customers in a highly professional and courteous manner also provided a sustainable impression on Mason. “What has more stuck out to me over these years of working with my dad are his actions over time in relation to our team members, customers and vendors,” Greene says. “He has always tried to consider the best interests of H&R’s team members in decisions being made. Working with customers, the only option is to make it right and to take care of issues quickly. They will not resolve themselves and will only get worse. With vendors, we treat them as important partners and with respect. There are always ways to work together to find common ground if challenges arise.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
In his nearly two decades with H&R, Greene has been given the opportunity to develop a leadership style that places a high degree of emphasis on substance over style. When Greene — a past chairman of the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association — speaks with employees and customers, he may not be loud, but he is certainly authentic.
“I think it is safe to say that I am generally more on the quiet side,” Greene says. “It is actually something I have been working on to some degree as I know the people around me would benefit from more communication from me.”
He adds, “But some people probably don’t see how competitive and intense I am on the inside. I am pretty much always focused on working on something or thinking intently about something. It is hard for me to shut off from thinking, and when I do it usually doesn’t take me long to crash!
“My wife laughs at how I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere when I sit down. I am also more cautious not to overpromise and underdeliver. It definitely doesn’t sit well with me to say I or our company is going to do something and we don’t make it happen.
“That can be a hard balance sometimes as you can’t control everything, but I think our people know or learn quickly that we need to do all we can to make something happen if we have communicated that we would.”
Advice and Inspiration
Q: What was the first job that meant something to you (and why)?
A: I worked for an interdenominational college ministry for three years after grad school. College was a special time in my life in many ways, but the most impactful aspect was learning more about a relationship with God and growing in that. I enjoyed being able to share some of those same experiences with other college students.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Over the years, God’s word has definitely had the most impact on me and where my foundational inspiration comes from. His word gives me hope, encouragement, direction and ultimate fulfillment. I need this every day! I also find great inspiration from those around me (family, friends and co-workers) by their examples of hard work, courage and determination. When I am stressed or weary, I am motivated to keep going in my work to provide for my family and the desire to see our team members at H&R continue to have opportunities to grow.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self?
A: Trust your gut more, and don’t be afraid to try new things.
Q: What is a lesson you learned from a project or while working with a client?
A: It’s always best to do something right the first time even if it costs more time and/or money. Clients look to us to provide solutions for them.