With a new year comes fresh starts. That’s exactly what’s happening at Stuller, with Jay Jackson retiring as the Lafayette, LA-based company’s President and CEO. Starting in 2014, Stuller’s Chief Merchandising and Sales Officer Danny Clark has been named as Jay’s successor. And, in other executive appointment news at Stuller, Jeff High, founder and president of Iowa-based Gemvision, will fill the position of Chief Merchandising Officer.
Jay began working at Stuller in 1996. He spent 30 years with Sears in Chicago with a four-and-half year break from the company spent serving in the US Air Force. In the mid-1990s, Jay spotted a blind ad in the Wall Street Journal for a job position with a company in “the south.” Curious, Jay forwarded his resume and received a 45-minute call from the Stuller Human Resources Director about two weeks later.
Over the course of the conversation, Jay learned that his nearly 30 years of experience with Sears matched the job description in the ad. The job opening discussion helped Jay understand how his skills would be a good fit for the position at Stuller. But Stuller as a company was still an unknown.
To better understand how retail jewelers valued Stuller, Jay went to a Chicago-area jewelry store posing as a customer. Based on his conversation with the HR director, and some cursory research he’d done on Stuller, Jay asked for something he knew most jewelry stores wouldn’t normally carry, but could easily source. Knowing the jeweler would need to reference Stuller’s famed “Mountings” catalog, Jay soon got the answers he was seeking.
As the jewelry store owner was getting into the particulars of taking the special order, Jay confessed he was posing as a retail jewelry customer to learn more about Stuller. He explained that relocating his family to go to work for Stuller was a big decision and that he wanted to make sure the proposed move was going to be a good one. As Jay’s conversation with the jewelry store owner continued, the bench jeweler emerged from the shop. Jay recalls his words to this day.
“The bench jeweler said to me: ‘Let me sum up Stuller like this: I’ve been working with Stuller for 15 years and I’ve never had to disappoint one of my customers because Stuller let me down. If I were you, I’d take that job,’” says Jay.
And with that endorsement Jay left his senior management position with Sears Product Services and headed to Lafayette to work with Stuller. Jay enjoyed living in Chicago, but wasn’t a big fan of the strong winds – especially in the winter. As a boy, Jay lived in Okinawa, Japan with his family.
“My father worked for the US government there,” says Jay. “I kind of got used to warmer, more seasonable climates early on. The idea of moving down south appealed to me.”
Upon arriving at Stuller, Jay’s main job was overseeing Stuller’s Sales Division including the Call Center. Accomplishing these tasks allowed Jay to create and develop programs for the company while introducing cross-functional collaborations to Stuller. “That wasn’t part of the game back then,” says Jay.
Over the years, as Jay worked toward becoming the company’s President and CEO, he continued doing what he thought was his chief contribution to Stuller in 17 years of service – developing people.
“Stuller has amazing people working here and I’ve had the pleasure of working side-by-side with tremendous individuals,” says Jay. “Many of whom started with the company early in their careers and have moved up to positions in the company which truly tested their talents. I hope the programs I worked on with these people helped with their career development at Stuller.”
Pleased with his accomplishments, Jay does have some regrets as he looks back at his years at Stuller. “I wish I could have done some things faster,” says Jay. “But I’m very methodical by nature and sometimes that slowed down the pace of progress.”
Jay officially retired on December 31. He will continue to work with Stuller as a consultant for retailer Bridge events and the company’s Operational Excellence Team. Starting in 2014, Jay will begin a three-year commitment with Lafayette’s Chamber of Commerce serving on the group’s board of directors and will chair the Education Committee for the United Way.
In his free time, Jay would like to travel overseas with river tours in Europe and a trip to Hong Kong topping his list.
Clark takes the reins
Danny Clark brings a wealth of leadership and experience to Stuller that he honed during a 25-year tenure with Circuit City stores. He started working for the company part-time as a cashier in his early twenties and left as the company’s executive vice president of multi-channel sales.
He left Circuit City in 2009 to join Stuller, first as chief supply chain officer, then as chief merchandising, marketing and sales officer. In these roles, he has applied his nearly three decades of experience in operations, merchandising and change management. Danny has been working with Jay on most projects during his four years with Stuller, which makes the transition period short and nearly seamless.
In looking ahead at his new role as Stuller’s President and CEO, Danny’s intent is, “to bring out the best in people, to form the right teams and to do the most important work for our customers.”
“My goal is to keep the ball rolling,” says Danny. “Jay has done excellent work in his leadership role at Stuller and I’m excited to continue what he’s done.”
Jeff High, the founder and president of Gemvision, will take over Danny’s work as Stuller’s new Chief Merchandising Officer. Jeff’s chief responsibilities in his new role will be the liaison between Stuller’s merchandising and product design and development departments, while continuing improvements and upgrades to CounterSketch Studio and other software solutions.
For more information visit Stuller online at www.Stuller.com.