Scott McClelland

From corporate leader to TV commercial star, Mr. H-E-B shares valuable life lessons

From corporate leader to TV commercial star, Mr. H-E-B shares valuable life lessons

The Influentials, Scott McClelland, January 2013
Photo by © Michelle Watson/

Editor’s note: CultureMap is proud to introduce a new series called The Influentials, in which we highlight the people who help to shape Houston. First up is Scott McClelland, a name and face we are all familiar with thanks to his leading role in H-E-B commercials.

Much of Houston knows Scott McClelland as Mr. H-E-B, the congenial gent who has starred in the supermarket chain's television ad campaign since it launched three years ago.

Those in the field know the president of H-E-B Houston as the savvy businessman, originally from Los Angeles, who in his 10 years at the helm here has moved the chain from an 11 market share to a 22 market share. The philanthropic community knows him as a proven leader, serving in numerous board positions including chairman of Houston Food Bank for which he spearheaded the successful $56 million capital campaign.

To date, H-E-B has created 20 ads for TV and the notoriety for McClelland has been phenomenal. People ask for his autograph. They ask for his photo. When he is out doing price-checking in a competitor's store, he has to answer questions about that. 

What is your chief characteristic?

Optimism. I've found that if you think you can do something, you surprise yourself and you can.

Your idea of happiness?

For a long time, I defined my happiness by how well I did in work, but then I hit the wall and things weren't going so well . . . I learned that there is a lot more to life than work. Once I focused on all aspects of of my life, I was a lot happier with who I am.

Your idea of misery?

If I were stuck in a cubicle all day doing the same thing over and over again. If my life were redundant day after day and not being able to experience everything that is interesting, that would be misery.

Your favorite place to eat in Houston, in the world?

In Houston, it's going to be Tony's, obviously. But my favorite place in the world is Philippe's in Los Angeles. It's the home of the French dip sandwich. My grandfather started going there in the 1930s. It's the first restaurant I went to, probably when I was one. It's where I had my first date with Soraya. It's where we went after we became engaged . . . They serve the most amazing French dip sandwiches. It's just part of our family culture.

Your favorite heroes in real life?

I'm a sucker for the Horatio Alger story . . .  Today, everybody gets so enamored by who the stars are, but I think there is something to be said for the common man who is committed to getting ahead and takes responsibility seriously and takes the role of a parent and a spouse seriously.

If not yourself, who would you like to be?

I like being me. I've got such a good life. I love what I do. There're lots of other people I'd love to get to know and spend some time with, but I'm happy being me.

Your favorite pastime?

Eating what Soraya (his wife) cooks and working out. Those are the two things and one kind of feeds off  the other, right? Soraya and my daughters are all excellent cooks . . . I work out six days a week at The Houstonian starting at 5:30 in the morning.  I've learned that there's no excuse not to work out when it's  that early.

Something people would be surprised to know about you?

That I married the first woman I ever dated. Soraya and I met in high school . . . I went early for something that was really good. We've been married 32 years and we dated five years before that. We're going to be grandparents in June and both our daughters have moved back to Houston. So life is good.

How did you become a television commercial star?

When Randalls (was sold to Safeway), there was no longer a hometown grocery chain. And we thought, heck, we're from Texas, we can be the hometown chain by assertion. So we thought if you put a face to the name that maybe that would help. And I think the fact that I'm part ham didn't hurt so they put me on TV. It really has been an interesting experience.