Matt Beall

A century of adaptability

“By being aware of negativity, it’s hard for it to manifest and exist.”

For the last few years, Matt Beall (BSBA ’01), CEO of Bealls Inc., has been working on revamping the company’s values. Being aware of negativity is just one of his strategies for fostering a positive company culture; the seven values will be implemented later this month, punctuating a series of changes that have happened in the company since Beall took on his role.

Beall is a third-generation Gator graduate and the fourth generation of Beall’s to run the company, which has been outfitting families for over 100 years. He started working at Bealls Inc. in 2004, first as an outlet planner, and worked his way up to CEO. From working through every level of the company, he knows what it takes to be a successful leader.

Under Beall’s leadership, the company has undergone an entire rebranding, changing the name of their off-price chain from Bealls and Burkes Outlets to Bealls and their department line to Bealls Florida. “Outlet” was a misleading term, Beall said, giving an impression of lower quality items than the merchandise offered.

Currently, Bealls Inc.’s off-price chain makes up 75% of the company, with 600 stores spread across 23 states. It’s a big change from their small-town beginnings, and the company remains adaptable, ready to evolve as necessary with the times.

“When I think about what I’m planning for, [I think about] managing that business and trying to continuously figure out ways to innovate that business and make it relevant and to figure out a way to make the stores work,” Beall said. “There’s always going to be changes in retail, there’s always going to be changes globally in general, and technology is of course a huge part of what creates the change.”

Technology, and specifically artificial intelligence, play a big part in the company’s plans for the future. Rather than taking away from the in-person shopping environment for which Bealls Inc. is best known, Beall sees AI as an opportunity to improve guest experience. Already, chat bots are available to assist online shoppers, and AI is becoming increasingly useful for company marketing.

Staying ahead of the curve, Bealls Inc. has been researching possibilities in the metaverse, too. However, their research has shown that there currently isn’t any ROI for metaverse investment. While the company is equipped to flux with the new technology, they’re only going to use it in ways that are best for their growth and for their guests.

“We’re not going to get distracted by something outside of our core, out of what we do really well which is brick and mortar retail,” Beall said. “We’ll dabble if we need to, but we’ll focus on what we’re good at.”

This focus on positive growth is a motivator for the seven values Beall is implementing in company leadership and beyond:

• Acceptance
• Accountability
• Authenticity
• Compassion
• Empowerment
• Openness
• Transparency

“When you think about these words, each of them has an opposite and the opposite is some form of negativity,” Beall said. “These words allow us to look inward in order to make positive cultural change happen. We’re not forcing these upon anyone, so it’s up to each individual to either embrace these or completely ignore them.”

The list has been in the works for a few years because Beall wanted to make them a habit in his own life before suggesting them to others. Being purposeful in practicing his values has helped Beall identify how he wants to lead the company into their next era of business.

“If we’re looking inward and trying to figure out the best way we can improve, then we’re going to have the most success,” he said.