The story begins in late 1800s when McLane’s grandfather, Robert McLane opened his first retail grocery business in Cameron, Texas. In 1894, the retail operations shifted into the wholesale grocery business, marking the beginning of McLane Company, Inc. When Robert’s son, Drayton Sr., graduated from college in 1922, he joined the growing family business where he worked for over 60 years.
When Drayton Sr.’s young son, Drayton Jr., turned nine years old, he spent his Saturdays and summers working at McLane Company stacking inventory and sweeping floors. During his teenage years, he worked in many other areas of the business. Drayton Jr. officially joined the family business after earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Baylor University and a master’s degree in business administration from Michigan State University.
In the early years, Drayton Jr. assisted his father in building a strong grocery distribution network that served convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food stores, and family owned business around Texas. They were one of the first to computerize the distribution system, a key move in McLane Company’s success.
Drayton Jr. eventually became president and CEO of McLane Company in 1964 and held this position for thirty years. During his tenure, he moved the company from Cameron to Temple, Texas to take advantage of the central location for distribution. Eighteen distribution centers were built around the United States.