Northsiders to Know: Ron Wallace

The Retiree Who Doesn’t Quit

written by JENNIFER COLOSIMO | photography courtesy of RON WALLACE

MANY OF OUR READERS may recognize his name from our review of his latest book “Leadership Lessons from a UPS Driver: Delivering a Culture of We, Not Me.” Others know Ron Wallace because they’re satisfied residents of Milton – a city he helped found 10 years ago. Others may know about one or two of the other hats he currently wears, but I found myself most impressed not with his journey from United Parcel Service, Inc. driver to former president of the company, but what he’s done with his time since he retired.

The number of jobs, nominated positions and day-job-like hobbies he’s held since “his real one,” as he calls it, can’t be adequately described using the word “impressive.” I found my admiration for him growing throughout the course of the few hours I spent inside his gorgeous, multi-thousand square-foot home.

For me, what was most interesting is that in his 13 years as a retiree, Wallace has actually started careers in many other fields. Right off the bat, he pursued a longtime interest in law enforcement. Still today – with teenaged grandchildren – he does his part protecting the city by working the night shift for Milton City police. In fact, his squad car is in the garage. He said it was something he was always passionate about, and is partially to credit for why Milton’s department can tout a response time of less than 9 minutes. He’s helped countless elected officials win their campaigns, was asked to expedite the city of Johns Creek’s own foundation and is often solicited to chair or offer guidance to other new city commissions. He’s still trying to master the art of saying “no.”

Between the spaces on his calendar packed with meetings, Wallace has also started a music business out of Nashville. Currently, he’s got two promising acts – both who interviewed in his private in-home studio and are currently recording albums. And, although he guesses the music business is what he’ll ride out most passionately in the coming years, he is still in the middle of wrapping a movie based on “Irish Pubs in America,” a book he collaboratively published with fellow Milton resident Robert Meyers.

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While on a tour of his home, I discovered more of Wallace’s hats – he played European football out of college, was a master bungee jumper and racecar driver (he has one of those in the garage too.) On the quieter end, he and his wife spent years collecting antiques, many of which are displayed throughout their home.

I asked him, “Don’t you want to just relax and play golf?” as I assumed most retirees look forward to doing once their careers come to an end.

leadership-lessons-book-cover“I don’t like golf,” he said, adding that he doesn’t really have the itch to travel either. Instead, he likes staying busy, constantly challenging himself, turning interests into projects and projects into jobs. Yes, his experience as a CEO has helped him delegate with precision, surround himself with top-notch talent and manage his time wisely, but it certainly hasn’t helped him want to put less on his plate.

In fact, Wallace owns the plates at Olde Blind Dog (both Milton and Brookhaven locations), Avalon’s Branch & Barrel and the new Indigo in Crabapple. He also owns a commercial construction company and remains very active in the development and well-being of Milton.

And while you can read all about his leadership advice, entrepreneurial spirit and opinions on etiquette in the good ole days (that book is in the works) in the books he’s published, in my opinion, a conversation at home in a rare quiet moment is where the real Ron Wallace truly captivates. It also – disclaimer, here – encourages you to skip tonight’s TV routine in favor of something a little more productive. Maybe I won’t be launching a music business tomorrow, but I’m certainly inspired to reach for my fullest potential.