Paul Lechleiter is the latest practitioner to be inducted into the Retail Design Legion of Honor. Lechleiter, who has logged more than 35 years in the retail design industry, is chief creative officer of FRCH NELSON, Cincinnati. As FRCH NELSON’s creative visionary, Lechleiter's role is hands-on involvement in day-to-day creative output, providing creative leadership for a variety of client relationships.
The Legion of Honor created in 2001 by the Retail Design Institute, recognizes that the profession of retail design is driven not by business executives but by extremely talented and visionary designers. Induction into the Retail Design Legion of Honor recognizes and validates that talent and vision. It is the association’s highest honor for retail design practitioners. Lechleiter is the fortieth person to be so honored.
Charles Sparks, FRDI, and Legionnaire presented Lechleiter with the Legion of Honor medal at the Institute’s 48th Awards Gala, on May 22, 2019, in New York City.
Lechleiter thanked the audience for the honor and recognition. In heartfelt and brief remarks, he touched on colleagues, clients, and family. “There’s an expression you’re only as good as the company you keep,” Lechleiter said, “For me personally, I believe that to be an absolute truth. For my entire career, I’ve only been surrounded by amazing creative talents, brilliant business guys, amazing teachers, and great clients.” He continued, “They have made me a better designer, a better leader, and a much better person.” Lechleiter also thanked the support of his family especially his father, who claimed not to understand why Paul pursued a design degree but paid for it nonetheless.
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Design from the University of Cincinnati College of Design Architecture Art and Planning, Lechleiter's professional career began at May Company in California in 1980. He then went to work with Cole Martinez Curtis in Los Angeles. He returned to the Midwest to work with FITCH Inc. before joining FRCH NELSON (then FRCH Design Worldwide) in 1996.
At FRCH NELSON, Lechleiter has provided creative results and garnered design awards for such brands as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walt Disney Company, Luxottica Retail, Hershey’s, American Girl, Liverpool Department Stores, Field and Stream, Cornerstone Brands (Frontgate and Ballard Designs), Gaylord Entertainment’s Opry Originals, Yum! Brands, McDonald’s, Steak n’ Shake Fiesta Restaurant Group, Cordish Companies, and Duty-Free stores.
“I think what makes Paul so beloved by clients is that he doesn’t really have a style,” wrote Emily Hamilton, FRCH NELSON’s director of brand marketing, as part of Lechleiter’s nomination submission. “He creates unique solutions for each and every client he works with, and creates a true collaboration. That shows when you look at the range of work he’s done, from high-end department stores to big box to specialty to restaurant to entertainment – and everything in between.” She continued, “He’s beloved at the office because he embraces working with young designers – looking for every opportunity for a teachable moment. He is constantly pushing everyone in the office to think differently, be bold, and not be afraid to act a little wacky.”