Lifelong Leader at Leggett & Platt, Harry Cornell, Dies

Harry Mack Cornell Jr.

Harry Mack Cornell Jr., longtime former Leggett & Platt president and chief executive officer, died May 8. He was 93 and a resident of Joplin, Missouri.

The grandson of a founder of Leggett & Platt, J.P. Leggett, Cornell spent high school summers unloading rail cars. His career with L&P began in 1950 after he graduated with a degree in business administration and marketing from the University of Missouri. From his first position as a sales office assistant and trainee in Louisville, Kentucky, Cornell moved into sales, covering several territories and establishing many successful accounts.

In 1953, he began managing the plant in Ennis, Texas, and quickly turned around the then-struggling operation. In 1955, Cornell became company vice president, and he was elected to the board of directors in 1958.

Just two years later, Cornell was promoted to president and chief executive officer. At that time, L&P was a private spring company with four U.S. factories generating $7 million in annual sales. His many achievements include the initial public offering of L&P stock in 1967 and the 1979 listing on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1998, L&P was ranked in the top 6% of 500 major corporations in the Fortune survey, “America’s Most Admired Corporations,” and in 1999, it was included in the S&P 500.

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