ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - David Steward is a great American success story—one of the richest men in the world and also one of the most generous. Steward grew up in Clinton, Missouri in the segregated 60's facing obstacles some of us can only imagine. When he first came to St. Louis he didn't have a job. Now he runs a company worth over 6 billion dollars, World Wide Technology.
"The journey we've been on is a miracle," says Steward. I mean a guy like me growing up in a small town. Happen to be a person of color growing up in the 50's and 60's. To realize a dream like this I’m just hanging on by my fingernails on this rocket ship that keeps taking off. I'm just hoping it doesn't leave me behind."
The company's success has skyrocketed since Steward founded it in 1990 with just 4 employees. Now he has about 3,000 workers and does business with many fortune 100 companies. It's a business he's built by the book. The good book.
"It's about faith," he says. Any time you go into business that's never been attempted before especially in a Midwestern city like St. Louis it is about taking a leap of faith and seeing something that other's don't see. You do reap what you sow."
He's been sowing the accolades. A 2014 citizen of the year and Horatio Alger award winner. He's rubbed elbows with presidents. And he's why his company is one of the fortune 100 best companies to work for.
"It's wonderful we have all this technology but it's really the corporate culture that makes the difference," says project manager Mark Dougherty.
But Steward admits the national perception of St. Louis has sometimes made bringing in talent a tough sell.
"The light of all the things that have happened in St. Louis sometimes it makes it difficult to get people from the outside to come to St. Louis. But once they see the opportunity they have here and the environment they begin to say, 'gosh, St. Louis is a great place. And there's great people in St. Louis. It is the most charitable city in the country."
And he is leading the way. Steward and his wife have given millions to dozens of charities. He's been on various boards or honorary chairs throughout St. Louis like Boys and Girls Clubs, Variety Children's Charity Leukemia, American Liver foundation, United Way, Urban League, just to name a few. He says its gives him great joy to give back to a place that's given him so much.
"This community has helped me in a very unique and special way. They didn't have to. This is a way to pay back by paying forward. And the importance and significance of giving is a principal that works in life. And I'm grateful for being a good steward for what God has blessed me with. I'm hopeful that 50 years from they'll say he started something very special.