This story was written by Rawls Business Leader Laura Montoya.
Austin Keith - owner of over 17 wine, liquor and spirits stores known as Pinkies - recently spoke with Rawls Business Leadership Program students about keys to finding success after graduation. Through his leadership, Pinkies has expanded throughout West Texas and has put their name on the map against competitors such as Spec's. Oddly enough, Mr. Keith does not see this as his biggest accomplishment. This has to do with his idea of "keeping things simple."
Keith is a native from Odessa, Texas. He started working in the liquor industry in 1977. Although he originally worked in the wholesale business, he later converted to the retailer tier. Keith wholeheartedly believes that in order to be successful, "you gotta love what you do." This is the reason why he decided take over Pinkies in 1998 and make it his own business. He did confess to the Rawls Business Leaders that even though his industry might be seen as the "bad guys" his dedication to his work and to his community has created a positive impression of his company and industry. Mr. Keith sums up his straightforward view of leadership into three categories: communication, adaptability, and initiative.
Keith employs over 140 people in West Texas, and holds each one and himself to the highest standard. The liquor industry has strict regulations and policies. Communication is essential to keep the stores operating at their highest potential. In addition to communicating polices, he also communicates his appreciation. Keith realizes that small acts of sincere appreciation and kindness go a long way. He writes hand-written anniversary cards for each employee because at the end of the day they are who market and build Pinkies' reputation with their customers and the community. When a Rawls Business students asked him if it was difficult to change his advertising method and add social media to the mix, he joyfully stated, "Not at all. Adaptability is the key to staying at the top." Keith knows that he and his company must constantly evolve. He rigorously keeps up with new business ideas and different views and methods for running a business by consistently reading business publications. He believes that if people keep an open mind they are more prone to grow and create innovative ideas. Lastly, Keith spoke about the importance of initiative. He applauded the RBLP students for already taking the first step towards becoming influential leaders. He went on to say that they are the future and, with the education they are receiving at Texas Tech, they are sure to become game changers.
Throughout his life and career, Keith has never lost ties with his home town. He is involved in organizations such as Meals on Wheels, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, the Rehabilitation Center and is the President of Chamber of Commerce in Odessa. He describes his experiences with these organizations as very humbling. In addition to benefiting the people of Odessa, staying involved gives Keith the opportunity to hone his communication, adaptability, and initiative outside of his work industry.
These three components, combined with the fact that Keith loves what he does, has helped him in a way that no one could anticipate. He recently endured a neck injury that left him paralyzed for about a year. Word spread in his community about his injury, and his friends at the Rehabilitation Center came through to make sure that he was in the best of hands. Keith was able to witness firsthand how his leadership in the Odessa community inspired people to help him when he was in trouble. His actions and involvement in his community spoke louder than words and proved to truly be his biggest accomplishment. For this reason, he is an incredible role model for all students preparing to join the workforce. If you love what you do and the people around you, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.