RLJ-McLarty-Landers vice chairman Thomas F.”Mack” McLarty has a distinguished record of business leadership and public service, with roots in the automotive business that reach back to 1921, when his grandfather opened a Ford dealership in Hope, Arkansas. Today, the McLarty family enterprise is in its fourth generation, building extensive operations at home and in Brazil, Mexico, and China.
Mr. McLarty joined the McLarty Companies in 1969, after graduating with honors from the University of Arkansas. Under his direction, the family’s innovative leasing operation became one of the country’s largest, even as their automotive dealerships expanded throughout the southern United States.
In 1979, the McLarty Companies bought the assets of one of the nation’s largest school bus manufacturers, Ward Industries, and turned the struggling enterprise around. In this same era, the McLarty Companies merged McLarty Leasing with the New York Stock Exchange listed company Leaseway Transportation, and Mr. McLarty became an officer of Leaseway, responsible for the southern region. By 1998, the McLarty Companies was one of the top 50 dealer groups in the United States, with 19 automobile dealership franchises in Arkansas and Texas and annual sales of roughly $750 million. The McLartys merged their business with Asbury Automotive Group of Pennsylvania, and Mr. McLarty became vice chair and a director on the Asbury board, helping successfully take that company public in 2002.
Today, having reestablished the family’s dealership holdings, Mr. McLarty and his sons Franklin and Mark are building RLJ-McLarty-Landers at home and expanding their dealership operations abroad, including as the exclusive importer of Jaguar Land Rover in Mexico, the leading BMW dealer group in the Beijing and Dalian regions of China, and the top Toyota dealer in Brazil.
A strong believer in public service, Mr. McLarty served more than five years as a member of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet, first as White House Chief of Staff and then as Counselor to the President and Special Envoy for the Americas. He was also appointed by President George H.W. Bush to the National Petroleum Council and the National Council on Environmental Quality, and served as a governor on the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board.
Upon leaving the White House in 1998, Mr. McLarty formed an international strategic advisory firm formed in partnership with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. He continues that work as president of McLarty Associates, based in Washington DC. Previously, he spent a decade as Chairman and CEO of Arkla, a Fortune 500 natural gas company. Under his leadership, ARKLA grew into one of the largest natural gas distributors in the United States and won recognition for management excellence, environmental initiatives and minority enterprise development.