A Baylor Beginning
By Justin Walker
William Edwin “Ed” Crenshaw, BBA ’73
Retired CEO and Current Chairman of the Board; Publix Super Markets Inc.
Having grown up in Waco, Baylor University has always had a special place in William “Ed” Crenshaw’s heart. His father would take him to football and basketball games and Crenshaw even remembers a grade school picture of him wearing a green sweater with a large “B” on the front.
“I’ve had this love affair with Baylor for a long time,” he said.
Even after moving to Austin and later to Fort Worth, it seemed Baylor was always on the horizon for Crenshaw. He only applied to one other college—the University of Texas—but there was never any doubt in his mind. Come the fall of 1969, Crenshaw was officially a Baylor Bear.
When it came time to pick a major, business just felt like the natural selection. His grandfather had founded Publix Super Markets Inc. back in 1930, and over the years it became a family business.
“I was beginning to think, ‘Yeah, I’m probably going to go to Florida and get in the grocery business,’” he said. “The business degree turned out to be the right thing for me.”
After graduating in 1973, Crenshaw spent almost a year in Dallas working in sales before moving to Florida in April 1974 to begin his career at Publix. His grandfather had a rule—all family had to start at a retail store and work their way up. Crenshaw’s first stop in the family business was bagging groceries at the Publix in Lake Wales, Florida.
“I worked my way through the retail operations and eventually to various areas of management,” he said. “I found I loved it, and now I’ve spent almost 50 years with the company.”
Crenshaw retired in 2016 after serving as CEO for eight years and now serves as chairman of the board. His love for Baylor hasn’t stopped during his time away. Crenshaw and his wife, Denise, have generously supported the University in several ways, including an endowed deanship at the Hankamer School of Business, endowing two Business faculty positions and starting the Ed Crenshaw Endowed Scholarship Fund in the Business School. The Crenshaws are also recognized with the Ed and Denise Crenshaw Student Commons, located on the first floor of the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.
He always wanted to give back to the place that gave him so much. Crenshaw is thankful for the lessons he learned at Baylor, including the advice he now passes along to the next generation of business leaders.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things,” he said. “But once you decide what you want to do, really dig in and learn everything that you can. Never quit learning.”