Walt Holmes rose through the ranks of the law department at Interstate Battery System of America Inc. to take on more than just legal work, and he does it all while following the Golden Rule: to treat others as they would want to be treated.
Holmes, Interstate's senior vice president and chief legal officer, and the legal department at the Dallas-based company feel they run their legal affairs a little bit differently from other large companies. Not only do they blend business and legal duties into their jobs, but they do it while following this companywide philosophy.
The company's mission statement is, "To glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide with top quality, value-priced batteries, related electrical power-source products, and distribution services. Further, our mission is to provide our partners and team members with opportunities which are profitable, rewarding and growth-oriented."
Interstate Batteries, a distributor of batteries and other means of providing power, acts as a middleman between manufacturers and resellers and consumers, says Holmes. The company has about 1,750 employees throughout the United States and Canada, with about 650 of those in the Dallas area.
Annual revenue is about $1.6 billion, though Holmes says that fluctuates based on the price of lead, a major ingredient in batteries.
As SVP and CLO, Holmes has his hands on more than one area of the company's business. He runs the PowerCare division, a group of about 100 employees who provide maintenance and repair service on products in that division. He also bears responsibility for Interstate's roughly 50 company-owned distributorships (40 in the U.S. and 10 in Canada). All that is in addition to the legal work he handles.
Holmes started with Interstate in 1995 as associate general counsel after working for outside law firms and graduating from Baylor Law School in 1990. Within about six months, the company's general counsel started overseeing its operations group and gave Interstate's legal matters to Holmes.
The company named Holmes general counsel in 1997. His job expanded again when he took over human resources in 2001.
Three years later he took over PowerCare and had a mouthful of a title: general counsel, vice president of human resources and PowerCare.
"I was managing the legal functions even at that time by myself and just said, 'I can't do all the things I need to do,' " Holmes says.