This week we published an interview with HD Supply CEO Joe DeAngelo and Executive President John Stegeman, who is also the former CEO of Ferguson Enterprises. Stegeman recently joined the leadership team at HD Supply.
Not included in the interview published in the May 25, 2010, issue of MDM Premium was commentary from Stegeman about his goals and approach to his new job with HD Supply, where he will oversee HD Supply's branch-based businesses that serve the construction industry. Those include the distributor's Canadian operations, the electrical business, plumbing and HVAC, Waterworks and White Cap. Here's what he had to say about his new role:
MDM: What are your goals in your new position at HD Supply, and how did you get to this position?
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John Stegeman: Shortly after leaving Ferguson, I had an opportunity to sit back and think about what I wanted to do next. I wanted to understand which options would be available to really challenge me as a professional. I'm a driven individual. I wanted to pursue something that would naturally complement the skill sets that I developed over 24 years with Ferguson, and most importantly, be able to take care of my family for the future. A friend in the vendor community put me in touch with one of the three private equity owners of HD Supply, which led to an initial interview with Joe (DeAngelo). I remember the meeting here with Joe very well. I was impressed with what I heard. As I was looking at other opportunities, this is the one that continued to come back to me, that stood out, that really complemented my skill sets.
MDM: What's your role in the organization?
Stegeman: When Joe and I met, we thought that it made sense for me to really dial in on the branch-based businesses, and certainly I'm very familiar with most of those. I want to be able to complement Joe where I can, and more importantly, I want to make the businesses that I'm responsible for extremely successful financially. So I try to keep goals relatively simple. In the short term, I want to get to know the leadership teams in the field. I've done that in the first three weeks. I've traveled extensively, spent time with the core leadership teams and discovered that we've got some extremely passionate individuals in the field. I'm looking forward to mentoring and coaching them and providing guidance for the group.
Longer term, I think we have some good opportunities in our business to be better. I'm born thinking that we have opportunities to improve every day regardless of how much market share we have. There's still significant opportunity even in declining markets to be better at what you do. And most importantly, I'm very customer-oriented, and I know that all customers have choices in terms of who they want to do business with. Fielding the best teams supported by the best process and systems is going to be critical to HD's long-term success.
MDM: What have you learned in the past from Ferguson and other places you've worked that you'll bring into HD Supply in your new position?
Stegeman: As a general comparison, Ferguson is in five major businesses, and is supported by a centralized system. HD is more diversified, in 10 different businesses. So we service more customer segments with each business, and each business runs pretty autonomously. I recognized that very quickly, and I think there are advantages and challenges to both models. Certainly Ferguson has invested millions and millions of dollars in their distribution network, which works well in a rapidly growing market, and quite honestly doesn't work as well when the market is declining, because throughput through those operations is critical. So being autonomous can be advantageous; it allows you to be a little bit more flexible. But I don't think at this point I can tell you what is right or what is wrong.
In many respects, the companies are very similar. We focus on developing the best people to put in front of customers to drive the business in the construction industry. We have a lot of similarities from business to business. I think the key is profitable growth. It's critical to the lifecycles of all companies that are out there and a key element in providing those growth opportunities for our associates. I almost feel that this position was almost customized for me. And what I've seen so far is an energized organization that is walking down the right path. I'm excited to be a part of that.