Navigating a business through uncharted waters

September 9, 2022

Heidi Petz, ’97, named president of Sherwin-Williams after expertly managing two of the company’s operating groups during challenging times   

Since becoming president and chief operating officer of The Sherwin-Williams Company in March, Heidi Petz, ’97, has overseen business operations of the well-known paints-and-coatings-products company. No small feat, given that the 156-year-old global enterprise generated more than $19.9B in revenue last year; operates more than 4,500 stores in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean; employs more than 61,000 people; and serves customers in more than 120 countries. 

Virtually everything about running a business—from understanding profit and loss, to consumer psychology, corporate culture, and team engagement—fascinates her, Petz said.

“I love to design and build — I love the choreography,” she said. “I love to create momentum.”

The company leader pointed to her employees as the key to success: “I surround myself with really smart people and win with them. To get the best out of my team members, I have to adapt to them, and they to me. It starts with my awareness and willingness to meet my team members where they are.”

Petz brings more than 25 years of corporate experience to her new role. She held marketing, sales, and financial leadership positions at major companies, including Newell Rubbermaid, Target, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In 2013, she became vice president of marketing for the Consumer Group of Valspar, a paint-and-coatings company acquired by Sherwin-Williams in 2017. Rising steadily within Valspar, she became senior vice president of marketing, then president of the Consumer Brands Group, then senior vice president of sales and marketing for The Americas Group paint stores, and then president of The Americas Group.

When announcing her selection as Sherwin-Williams president and chief operating officer, Sherwin-Williams chairman and chief executive officer John G. Morikis said, “Heidi’s tremendous leadership has been on full display over the last two years as she has guided two of our global operating groups through some of the most challenging environments in our history.

“As president of The Americas Group, she maintained a strong focus on our customers and employees, while navigating the business through natural disasters, limited raw material availability, unprecedented cost inflation, multiple price increases, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As president of the Consumer Brands Group, she worked closely with our retail partners to meet unprecedented demand for do-it-yourself coatings throughout the pandemic in 2020, while also serving as the architect of our Pros Who Paint initiative.”

Her undergraduate education at the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies laid the groundwork for her successful corporate career, Petz said. Through her classwork and service-learning, she gained an understanding of organizations, cultures, followership, and leadership. 

“I’m proud to be part of something that was cutting-edge,” said the alumna, a member of the fourth class of the nation’s first undergraduate school of leadership studies. “I can point to many of my Jepson experiences as being formative.”