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College of Business Alumni


Lyle Heidemann - CEO, True Value, Retired
BS Marketing 1967

NIU alumnus Lyle Heidemann visited campus on October 22 as an Executive in Residence to participate in Dr. Ursula Sullivan’s marketing strategy classes (MKTG 495). Heidemann began his career at Sears, working there for 37 years. After retiring, he was asked to lead True Value. As its CEO, he was responsible for over 4,000 hardware stores that were individually owned. While in a position of influence over the store owners, he couldn’t “tell them what to do.” With experience in operations, marketing, logistics, systems, supply chain and more, he immediately went to work researching the best layout for the chain. Heidemann encouraged owners to re-configure their stores for time-starved consumers in an effort to streamline and improve the floor plan for women, including improving the lighting, moving the lawn & garden items and paint to the front of the store, and adding pet supplies. He also added eCommerce, gift cards and credit cards for the younger generations. His varied experience worked in his favor, as he had a wider perspective than his counterparts. He encouraged students to broaden their experience and take jobs that may not immediately be the perfect fit, as it will improve their overall experience.

About the Executive in Residence Program

Successful alumni give back to NIU by getting involved in the "Executive in Residence" (EIR) Program. The purpose of the program is to encourage successful alumni and friends to share their experiences in the business environment with College of Business students, re-enforcing our positioning statement, “Where the Classroom Meets the Business World.” Enthusiastic and talented alumni tell real-life stories and give an insider's perspective of life outside the NIU campus. These EIR sessions equip our students with practical tools and mentorship to prepare them for life after graduation.

See entire Executive in Residence schedule.