André Thornton was an All-Star Major League Baseball player, known for driving in runs. Just 17 when he signed his first professional baseball contract, André played 14 Major League seasons in the ’70s and ‘80s. The last 10 of those years was with the Cleveland Indians.
Thornton received accolades for his achievements and service on and off the field: Roberto Clemente Award; two All-Star game selections; the Silver Slugger Award; the Indians’ Man of the Year and Golden Tomahawk awards; the Hutch Award; and the American League Comeback Player of the Year honor. After retiring from the Indians, he was enshrined into the Ohio Baseball Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame, and the Reading Phillies Hall of Fame.
Anyone can pause there and deduce that Thornton attained success, but his story did not stop on the baseball diamond or in the clubhouse. He parlayed the same commitment to hard work that led to a solid baseball career into becoming an accomplished business owner. His business savvy led to success in the restaurant management industry first, and then in the promotional products industry.
In 1996 he started Global Sports and Promotions, Inc., which became GPI Procurement Services. A little over a decade later, Thornton capitalized on an opportunity to expand his business capacity in the areas of distribution and fulfillment when he purchased the former ASW Services and merged it with GPI to form ASW Global.
Today, ASW Global, LLC is a supply chain management company headquartered in Mogadore, Ohio. ASW is an IWLA member company, Thornton sits on the association’s board of directors and serves as the liaison between the board and the IWLA Inclusion & Diversity Council. He is the council’s immediate past chairman.
Thornton has modeled ASW after his own values: namely a commitment to trust, respect, integrity, excellence, and diversity. ASW takes a strong position on diversity and inclusion. André has spoken and written about the business case for diversity and inclusion on numerous occasions, educating businesses about the true value of minority, women-owned, and other designated diverse businesses. As the owner of a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Thornton understands that misconceptions about the size and capabilities of diverse-owned businesses still exist.
“Some people hear terms like ‘diverse supplier’ or ‘minority-owned business’ and think of small, under-resourced companies with very limited capacities and inferior products, unable to handle large contracts with big corporations,” Thornton says. “We dispel those kind of myths every day with our level of output, superior service, and quality products.”
ASW’s commitment to diversity and inclusion goes beyond its status as an MBE. Throughout the company, Thornton strives to “foster an environment that values diversity and inclusion throughout our organization, our clients, and our suppliers.”
He cites studies that show companies with diverse management teams generate greater revenue than their less-diverse counterparts. More significantly, he witnesses this fact first hand.
“Diversity and inclusion is an integral part of the business that extends from the company’s core values and helps it meet its mission,” he says. And he stresses that diversity and inclusion should not be goals in and of themselves for any company, but should be tied directly to improving the business: boosting performance, driving innovation, ensuring that services and products meet customer needs and exceed their expectations, and generating increased revenue.
The 20-year professional athlete turned successful businessman graduated magna cum laude from Ohio’s Capital University. He is an author, having co-penned the autobiographical, Triumph Born of Tragedy. Thornton is also a proud father. He and his wife Gail are the parents of André Jr., Jonathan, and Dean. Thornton is not shy about sharing his faith as a Christian. His personal story continues to inspire countless individuals.
André Thornton may have spent his baseball career driving in runs, but these days he thrives on driving his company forward.
Company Profile: ASW
ASW has three divisions: Supply Chain Services; Ecommerce Fulfillment Services; and Energy Services. Two of Thornton’s three sons work in the family business. As vice president of corporate services, eldest son André Jr. oversees the day-to-day operations of the company’s ecommerce fulfillment operations. Middle son Jonathan is the director of business development for ASW’s Supply Chain Services division.
As a full-service third-party-logistics company (3PL), ASW provides end-to-end fulfillment services. Its Mogadore headquarters is 500,000 square feet and located in Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) No. 181. ASW’s clients include several Fortune 500 companies, as well as multinational businesses headquartered in the Northeast Ohio region.
The company specializes in general warehousing and distribution; polymer resin packaging and distribution; asset management and recovery for the energy and utility sectors; branded and unbranded merchandise procurement; and B2B and B2C ecommerce fulfillment. ASW has approximately 150 associates among its business units and subsidiaries. The company has additional locations in the Akron/Mogadore region; further upstate in Ashtabula County; Dayton; Indianapolis; and Colorado Springs.