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Xavier Magazine | December 14, 2017

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Profile: Charles C. Wright

Profile: Charles C. Wright
By Michael Shaw

Charles “Charlie” C. Wright

Master of Business Administration, 1972
CEO of Wright Brothers Inc.; Chairman of Ohio Valley
Goodwill Industries
Cincinnati

Beer Bubbles | For the last 30 years, Wright has been at the helm of Wright Brothers Inc., which provides gas supply systems for applications in fabrication, leisure, nanoscience, cryogenics, research, product development, lasers, universities, pharmaceuticals, health care and, yes, beer.

The Other Brothers | “Wright Brothers was actually started by my dad and uncle, Charles and Morrow. People continually asked us if we were related to the Wright Brothers. We’re not. But when I got into the business, I incorporated the imagery of the original Wright Brothers. I admired their dedication to solve the mystery of heavier-than-air flight while still running a business. They were true innovators.”

A Tough Start | “When I was seven, I contracted polio and have limited use of my right arm and left leg. I was first admitted to Cincinnati General Hospital Ward H for polio cases since it was contagious and life threatening. I almost died that first night, then spent two weeks in an iron lung. After about a month I was transferred to the Cincinnati Convalescent Home, and then had five rounds of ‘corrective surgery’ at Cincinnati Children’s Hopsital. Because of all that, I’ve learned to live life by adapting to situations.”

Engineer to Entrepreneur | “My dad did not want me to go into the business. He told me to get an engineering degree and go to work for a big corporation. I started at the University of Cincinnati day school as an engineering major, got a job with General Mills then switched to the night college and graduated in 1970. I finished my MBA at Xavier in 1972. I used my first degree to get a job and the second degree to help the family business.”

Goodwill For All | “In early 2000, I was appointed by Gov. Taft to the State Use Committee to help provide jobs to folks with some sort of limitation or disability by purchasing their products or services, such as custodial services. After doing that, Joe Byrum, the CEO of Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries, recruited me to join the board of directors. I’ve been on the board for eight years and chairman for four. We’re part of the world’s largest, most successful network providing employment and training for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. I just wanted to give back to folks I could help with some of the things I’ve learned in life.”

Take Everything | “Take anything to Goodwill, because if it’s not good enough for the store it gets recycled. So even clothing with a hole in it can be recycled as fiber. The whole Goodwill model is very environmentally friendly. If you donate something, it’s resold, reused or recycled­­—almost nothing goes into a landfill.”

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