Russ continued to follow the fortunes of the company closely. The results were dramatic. In 1946, the company's first-year sales had been $848. In 1967, the year Terry was named president, sales were $63 million. In 1996, Kelly Services' sales were $3.3 billion; the company ranked 406 on Fortune magazine's list of the 500 largest companies in America, and was number 392 on the Forbes 500 list. Russ also took pride in his entrepreneurial success, and inclusion since 1985 in Forbes magazine's annual list of America's 400 wealthiest people.
Russ was also proud of the awards and honors extended by customers, community organizations and the business press. These included Forbes's designation as "Best Business Services Company for the 1990s," the Michigan Minority Business Development Council's Corporation of the Year award, and Business Week's list of "Women-friendly" U.S. companies. In 1996, The Business Women's Network recognized Kelly Services for having the second largest number of female corporate officers in the United States.
Russ was especially pleased that his own dedication to quality and service had become a core value of the company. Recent honors for quality included Ford Motor Company's Q1 Preferred Quality Award, Chrysler Corporations' Quality Excellence Award, the Xerox Certified Supplier Award, and Kraft Foods' Rick Stuedemann Award for Supplier Excellence.
Russ in retirement
Russ's retirement was quite active. No lover of airplanes, he was nevertheless a world-traveler, with a sense of adventure nurtured from childhood. Steamships and the last of the great trains carried the Kellys far from their home base in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
An exceptional bridge player, he shared the table with some of the world's best players, including Charles Goren. In later years, he switched from bridge to gin rummy as his card game of choice -- it was a more sociable way to pass the time with his friends and family.
Russ had loved horses since his childhood in British Columbia, and thoroughbred racing became a passion. An accomplished horse person, he was a regular at the Turf Club, and for years he kept a stable of thoroughbreds which he raced and bred with success. Before he "retired" from the sport, his horses won a number of major races.
Among his friends and family he retained his keen mind and sense of humor until the very end of his life. Family was especially important to Russ; he remained close to them before and during his retirement.
With great pride, Russ watched from his home in Florida, as Kelly Services celebrated its 50th anniversary in October, 1996. In a special anniversary message, videotaped for employees, he said, "I just can't tell you enough how happy I am to see the wonderful organization that's grown out of our little company. I am very proud of all of you. Keep up the good work. I love you all, and thank you."
Never to be forgotten
Russ Kelly removed himself from the limelight nearly thirty years ago, but true pioneers are never forgotten. As recently as January 1997, Russ was profiled in Workforce magazine (the former Personnel Journal) as one of the 25 most influential persons in the American workplace in the last 75 years. But then, any one of the more than 12 million people who have worked for his company could have told you that.