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posted: 4/14/2019 1:00 AM

Can new CEO fill predecessor’s shoes?

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  • Kornel Grygo

    Kornel Grygo


There's always a bit of a question when a successful, highly respected chief executive -- say someone like Tasty Catering's Tom Walter -- selects his (or her) replacement, especially if the selection is someone like Kornel Grygo, who is not as well known away from the company's Elk Grove Village location.

If you don't know Grygo, who officially replaced Walter as CEO of Tasty Catering early in March, it might be fun to ask him a question or two.

Ask, for example, whether Grygo is worried about filling his predecessor's shoes, a concern for many leaders who replace a legend. Ask Grygo how he will keep the company's growth and profits headed in the right direction. Ask how he will enhance the corporate and personal values culture that has helped make Elk Grove Village's Tasty Catering a different type of workplace.

Or note some of the answers I got to similar questions from Grygo, who was born in Poland not much before Tasty Catering was born in the suburbs, and see if you agree with my assessment that Tasty Catering seems to be in good hands.

"It's not really so big a challenge (to take over what Tom has built)," Grygo says without a hint of arrogance. "That's because everybody here already knows which way to go. I have to make sure I hold everybody accountable to the process."

That process is the Tasty Catering culture, a blend of corporate commitment to employees and their resulting commitment to the company and its goals.

"It helps," Grygo says, "that the Walters want people to succeed."

There are indications that the core Walters' approach won't change much, at least not anytime soon. For one thing, Tom Walter continues in his role as Chief Culture Officer. For another, "I'm pretty even keel," Grygo says. "My personal goal is to find the next goal, to continue the culture."

In that context, Grygo is aware of Tom Walter's admonition that "500 mouths (employees and their families) depend on us every month" -- and of the fact that, Grygo says, "lots of people here share their ideas."

Grygo seems to fit nicely within the Tasty Catering culture. He's held a variety of increasingly important positions at the company -- Chief Revenue Officer was the most recent -- and there was a hint of pride in his voice when he told me, "There was huge applause when my new position was announced."

It's been 30 years since Tom Walter founded Tasty Catering. Grygo has been at the company for 12 years -- and CEO for not that much longer than 30 days. Although any assessment clearly is early, our summary of the Tasty Catering transition -- this column and last week's ( -- is presented as a possible thought-guide for other businesses where change at the top may be on the horizon.

Sooner or later, every CEO leaves.

© 2019 Kendall Communications Inc. Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Learn about Jim's skills at