Warmest greetings from Newell! We hope that as the winter recedes and the days lengthen, you and yours are happy, healthy, and content.
I’d like to open this issue by sharing my observations about some changes unfolding at Newell, and what they mean—to me, to the company, and to you.
Over the past few years, we’ve been establishing a structure that will support Newell as Alice and I reduce our activities and eventually retire. We both still enjoy our roles at Newell immensely. But reality dictates that we plan for the transition that is inevitable, whether it takes months or years to complete.
Several years ago, our son-in-law, Pat Dwyer, became Newell’s general sales manager. Pat brings to the role considerable knowledge about Newell, as well as keen instincts when it comes to selling our product and working with customers. His assumption of the sales department allowed me to start dialing back a bit. Pat is a very much appreciated member of both our family and the team.
While I’ve continued overseeing Newell’s operations and administrative functions, I’ve also been searching for the right person to succeed me in this role. It requires someone who can provide oversight of the entire operation and maintain the company’s strategic direction consistently across departments.
A great opportunity arose when Grant Kernan, the president of a large, local manufacturing company, was asked by his employer to relocate to Kansas. Grant has just the experience, skills, and strategic vision I’ve been looking for. So when we learned that he and his wife Amber, an experienced interior designer, didn’t want to uproot their family and leave the area, we immediately invited him to become Newell’s general manager. He accepted and joined Newell in August of 2012. Since then, Grant has become an increasingly valuable general manager, working alongside me to learn all the nuances of Newell’s operations. Grant’s wife Amber has joined our interior design department, working with Pat’s wife and our daughter Becky Dwyer, and Kathy Prince. Amber’s new approaches and fresh ideas are already generating excitement with our customers.
We have also undergone some changes in our production and engineering operations. Chuck Evans became our V.P. of Manufacturing when Scott Lawson left to pursue another opportunity last year. And James Neatherry became V.P. of Engineering when Boyd Vanover retired after 40+ years at Newell. Chuck and James are both great additions to the Newell leadership team.
These changes are already having a positive impact. We’ve intensified our focus on customer satisfaction in all areas of the business. And a review and revision of our manufacturing practices has improved our effectiveness and efficiency. The process is still underway.
It is my deepest sense that, with this team of talented new managers in place, Newell is perfectly positioned for the future. I’m confident that your experiences with Newell will be enhanced and enriched by the fresh vision and new approaches that are emerging as this transition continues to unfold.
Newell Coach Corp. President and CEO