Five tips from a successful businessman: Chuck Laine

Former Smucker’s executive and animal rescue advocate Chuck Laine shares his advice for success

By Eddy Hoyle

Chuck Laine has a long history with the Hilton Head Island Humane Association. He joined its finance committee in 2003 and two years later became the chairman of the board and still serves in that capacity. Under his leadership one of the largest public/private partnerships in Beaufort County was formed, and the result is the new facility on U.S. 170 that houses an adoption facility for the Humane Association and the Beaufort County shelter.

Laine joined the J.M. Smucker Company (Smucker’s) in 1964 where he was immersed in a work culture in which every employee adopted the Basic Beliefs put forth by the company: quality, people, ethics, growth and independence. Laine said that he accepted this foundation as the basis for future strategy, planning and daily behavior and that the basic beliefs have served him well throughout his life. 

Laine joined the Army after graduating from Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science in commerce. He then joined Smucker’s and spent 34 years rising through the ranks from retail sales to the marketing department as vice president of marketing and finally as the vice president and general manager of the international market and natural foods business. 

In 1999 Laine retired and moved from Bath, Ohio, to Indigo Run, quickly got involved with his community and became the chairman of the Indigo Run Golf Club Board. He now lives in Windmill Harbour and enjoys golf and running. Here are his tips for success which he also has put into action at the Hilton Head Humane Association:

All things are not equal

“Learn to establish priorities,” Laine explained. “Everything is not equal.” Whether delivering long-term results to shareholders, building brands or investing in our communities, there will always be a multitude of issues. Understand what is truly important at any given time and learn to effectively prioritize.


Whatever your objective, set specific goals. “Focus on accomplishing what you have established as goals,” Laine said. Don’t get distracted or lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve. Stay laser-focused!

What’s your process?

Laine recommends that all decision-making — in business and in life — should be handled in the same way. “Have a set format for making decisions. Put together a decision-making process that you always use, no matter how big or small the decision may be,” Laine explained. His process is to rank weighted benefits of every decision he makes. 

Remember the Golden Rule

“Always remember the people part of life. Treat them the way you would like to be treated,” Laine said. At Smucker’s, Laine learned that everyone should be encouraged to reach their potential. The highest-quality people produce the highest results and should be treated ethically.

Nothing to fear

“Don’t be afraid to make a mistake,” Laine stated. “There may be something there in an idea or concept. Give it a chance, keep your options open and give it consideration.” He explained that it might lead to innovation, leading to the development of new products and new markets or the discovery of new capabilities.

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