Leigh Shockey of Drexel Chemical



photography by Larry Kuzniewski

Whether she’s on her beloved cattle farm in Rossville, Tennessee, at FedExForum cheering on the Grizzlies, or on President’s Island managing the manufacturing and distribution of more than 500 agricultural chemicals, Leigh Shockey never meets a stranger. Her effervescent personality and wide-ranging knowledge makes her genuinely relatable to nearly everyone she encounters. After graduating from UT Martin, Shockey came back to Memphis to oversee the international endeavors of her father’s (Robert Drexel Shockey’s) company — Drexel Chemical. The unique father/daughter relationship turned out to be a formula for success, and Leigh became CEO nearly 10 years ago. Today, Drexel is a national leader in agribusiness, and Shockey serves as the Chair of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

 

Memorabilia from Memphis in May:

In 2005, Shockey was the Chair of Memphis in May when it showcased Ireland. “This was a gift that they put together for me. I’m still on the MIM board, and it’s hands down the most fun board on the planet. Last year, we went to Sweden, and that was really a lot of fun. We’re getting ready to do Panama this year, so I’m looking forward to that.”

 

Export Council Certificate:

“International trade is one of my big deals, and I still try to spend about 50 percent of my time on that side of the business. I actually chaired the District Export Council for the state of Tennessee, so we spend a lot of time promoting export trade to get more people involved. There’s that fear of the unknown where people might export to Mexico or Canada but don’t know how to get past that. The mentality of ‘I’m not selling to Oklahoma, why would I sell to the Caribbean?’ A healthy 15 percent of Drexel’s business is international.”

 

 

 

Portrait:

Shockey lives next door to her parents on a beef cattle farm that her sister manages. It was only natural for this tight-knit family to go into business together, too. “My dad [Robert Drexel Shockey] grew up on a farm, and I thought it would be a great experience for my own son, Drexel, who was about 2 at the time, to have a place to have land, dogs, and be able to four-wheel. I’m just there to spoil the animals. It gave us all a level well-roundedness. This is a picture of Drexel and my niece, Alex, with our old Bluetick hound, Rhett Butler. We used to love to run across the top of those hay bales; we had so much fun.”

 

Artwork from her son:

“He was probably about 5 or 6 at the time, and I love to see the stuff he loved most about me. I have another one where he drew his immediate family and it was me, him, his dad, and his cousin [pictured above]. It was so cute that he considered her part of his immediate family because she was always there.”

 

Clocks and The Persistence of Memory piece:

“I’m a huge Salvador Dalí fan. I love weird clocks, too. They’re all over the place, but I’m clearly not concerned about time because none of them are set or working.”

 

iPhone:

“I’m a big texter, and it has all my music on it. As a sideline, I write songs for fun. I’m partners with Andy Childs and Steve Mandile for Veritable Music out of Nashville, and it’s solely focused on songwriting. Andy does a lot with Elvis Week and plays around town, and I have a lot of their music on my phone, and try to get to Nashville every few months.”

 

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