Shipley Do-Nuts CEO Clifton Rutledge has been recognized as one of the Houston Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO Award recipients of 2022. He was among 45 honorees lauded during a luncheon on Sept. 1 announcing the 5th annual awards.    

According to the Houston Business Journal, “the panel of judges looked for characteristics such as contribution to company success, civic involvement, career achievement and more.” Those honored at the event were from across multiple industries, including energy, real estate, nonprofits, the arts and of course, Houston’s favorite do-nut, Shipley Do-Nuts. 

Rutledge, who was brought on board as CEO in February 2021 by Peak Rock Capital following its acquisition of Shipley Do-Nuts, is a veteran C-suite-level restaurant leader with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. He previously served as COO at Jack’s Family Restaurant, president and CEO of Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits and as COO at Whataburger.  

The Houston Business Journal profiled Rutledge, who told the HBJ that when he joined the company, he was very mindful of maintaining the 86-year-old company’s family culture after it was acquired. 

“I try to lead by example, and because Shipley was a family-run company before Peak Rock took over in early 2021, I wanted the brand to continue feeling like a family,” he said. “We have quarterly all-team meetings and regular updates to our team members. We celebrate wins both personal and professional and support each other through trying times as you would your own family. Sometimes as a CEO you can be removed from some things at the company since you’re hyper-focused on growth and building a brand’s legacy.” 

Rutledge has spearheaded multiple initiatives, such as new market entries, brand unification, technology upgrades and more since he became Shipley’s CEO.   

In a letter of recommendation to the Houston Business Journal, Shipley Chief Marketing Office Donna Josephson wrote, “In the year we’ve worked together, he has demonstrated servant leadership that has helped propel the brand forward. With a focus on brand communication and culture, he has quickly earned the trust of our entire system.” 

The Houston Business Journal reports that its judges this year were Carol Guess, interim president of the Greater Houston Black Chamber; Tim Jeffcoat, Houston district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration; Paula Mendoza, CEO of Possible Missions; and Dan Snare, retired former president of American Leadership Forum Houston/Gulf Coast Chapter

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