“It’s not the generals or colonels that win battles, it’s the men in the trenches that do. That is how I run my business.”
This is not a quote from a famous war hero, but from a former farm boy from Cashton, Wis., who joined the Marines, fought in the Vietnam War, and founded three companies.
Donald J. Weber, the founder and CEO of Logistics Health, Inc., was a small town boy with nation-wide ideas. One of those big ideas blossomed into a corporation that provides vaccines for Department of Defense personnel.
Weber attributes his success to his Marine Corps experiences and learning from his mistakes.
Weber grew up on a Wisconsin farm in a community of fewer than 1,000 people. He said that he was not the best student in his high school, with a graduating class of fewer than 50. He hung out with the “wrong crowd,” and when everyone else was going to college he had no plans to follow suit.
“I remember talking to the recruiter and telling him I wanted to join the Marines,” said Weber. “I asked him how soon I could leave. He told me ten days.”
This rapid shipment to boot camp was not only the first step to Weber’s success, but also his first eye-opener to the rest of the world. For example, he never met anyone of another race until October 10, 1966, when he arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif.
His boot camp experience, like many Marines, was tough, but he survived the rigors of recruit training.
Enlisting as an infantryman, 18-year-old Weber received orders to 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment and in April of 1967, and shipped off to a far-off land few Americans had ever seen.
His unit landed in De Nang, Vietnam, on April 6, 1967. There he learned the survival skills that have kept him going throughout his life.
“I learned fast that any day could be mine,” he said humbly, “so instead of fearing about tomorrow, I learned to live day by day.”
After serving three years in the Marine Corps, Sgt. Weber began his ascent through the business ranks.
Weber started his first business in 1981, which supplied alternate heating units during an oil embargo. This business venture didn’t succeed, and he and his wife and family lost everything. But Weber made a promise to his wife that she would always have a roof over her head and food on the table.
So, for eight years, Weber worked as much as 16 hours a day, seven days a week in order to recover his finances.
“The Marine Corps taught me that no matter how bad things got, to never give up,” Weber said.
He eventually got back on his feet and started two other businesses. The first of the two he eventually sold. Shortly after, he founded Logistics Health, Inc.
Logistics Health, Inc., started with just nine employees. Currently, LHI has nearly 400 employees and is approaching revenue of $100 million. The company now provides 17 different vaccinations to the Department of Defense. It also provides medical clinics for Army Reserve and National Guard physicals, eye exams, and various medical needs in areas where there are no military base facilities. Weber wanted the soldiers to be able to go to a clinic that is close and convenient to them.
His company also brought in former Wisconsin Governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, as the president of LHI in 2005.
Weber said that his success doesn’t lie in his abilities, but is derived from his employees, and his Marine training.
“I hire the best and surround myself with the smartest people and let them do their job,” he said. “It’s the people that work for me that make me look good. Much of this success comes from the people down in the trenches.”
Weber has maintained a successful business, but he said he got a big scare on July 7, 2004.
While on his way to a meeting in Washington, D.C., Weber was struck by a car. His pelvis was broken in four places. He said when he was lying on the ground he realized that he just wanted to see his family again.
His doctors told him he would be immobilized for 12 weeks. After the accident, he would face an arduous process of using a walker, then crutches and finally a cane in order to walk again – a process that this former Marine did not want to tolerate.
“I have always tried to maintain my fitness level since I left the Marines,” said Weber. “It only took me 10 days of using a walker, three days of using crutches, and about three weeks using a cane. I tie my recovery to the Marine Corps.”
Today Weber doesn’t have a limp after the injury.
Weber is proud of his son and daughter in college, and his youngest son who will graduate from high school in 2007.
From the fall of his first company to the success of his current one, his wife has been by his side through it all. He expressed numerous times that second to his family is the Marine Corps.
“The Marine Corps has been the glue that has held me together so far.”
Weber is trying to accomplish a personal goal to establish a contract to work with the Marine Corps. He said that if his company can help provide assistance to the Marine Corps, he would finally be able to give back something to the organization that gave him the knowledge and will it took to grow from a farm boy in Cashton, Wis., to one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the state.