July 16, 2020 – Executive search firm Rosenzweig & Company has placed Adam Ingrao as the new president and CEO of Microcel, a leader in the distribution of global technology brands across Canada and portfolio company of Los Angeles-based Atar Capital. The search concluded just as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading throughout North America.
“Only a relatively small percentage of senior executives who have significant traditional brick and mortar retail experience have built significant ecommerce businesses, and the number of those who have strong brand distribution experience is even smaller,” said CEO Jay Rosenzweig. “And this role required someone with both the U.S. and Canadian retail experience. We had to spend a lot of time talking to people in the space and coming to understand how leading online retail operations are built and run in order to find someone who could effectively execute Atar’s objectives.”
“The depth we go into on operational drivers is a key tenet of how we work, and was absolutely critical for this search,” Mr. Rosenzweig said. “We pride ourselves on being one of the most rigorous firms in the business. The search had to be extremely comprehensive to find someone of Adam’s caliber.”
Mr. Ingrao joins Microcel from Dorel Sports where he held the position of SVP and head of commercial strategy. At Dorel, he built a highly profitable omnichannel operation with P&L responsibility, and drove a real transformation by prioritizing ecommerce for a category that had traditionally been slow to adapt to modern consumer behavior. Mr. Ingrao had previously led the NFL’s international licensing strategy and retail development globally and prior to that managed major licensing and distribution operations for Polo Ralph Lauren and Reebok.
As a private equity firm, Atar had a highly specific target profile in mind. They were looking to continue the transformation of the company from a pure play brick and mortar distributor to a value-added reseller of a broad range of products covering both traditional retail and emerging e-commerce channels. They wanted an incoming CEO who was a brand expert with extensive experience growing top line in traditional retail channels who also had expertise building and running major leading-edge online retail operations. The ideal candidate would have a successful track record managing transitions from offline to online retail.
“We are very pleased to have found and appointed an executive like Adam Ingrao as CEO of our North American Toronto-based consumer electronics distribution platform, Microcel,” said Robert Lezec, senior managing director of Atar. “He is an ideal fit for the position and a great fit for the company at a time when we recognized the need for a leader with a clear vision and the experience to position the company for success in a rapidly transforming distribution industry. Moreover, Adam is a great person to work with on a day to day basis from our perspective as shareholders,” he said. “Definitely a great recruit for us, for Microcel, and for all of the company’s employees, customers and vendors.”
Conducting the Search During COVID-19
According to Mr. Rosenzweig, while Mr. Ingrao was making the decision to take on the role COVID-19 was rapidly spreading across the globe. “His previous employer wanted him to stay and the pandemic was obviously creating enormous uncertainty,” he said. “We had to work through that carefully with him so he felt comfortable making the move in the new context. It was tough. One of the first things he had to do coming in was to start furloughing employees. But Adam is an experienced guy, and he took that in stride and recently presented a longer-term strategic plan to Atar that they felt aligned exceptionally well with their goals for the business.”
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“The COVID situation was getting worse every day,” Mr. Ingrao said. “It felt like a precarious moment to exit one company and join another, particularly as CEO. But Jay and I spoke frequently, every day, and also throughout my onboarding, and in fact we continue to check in with each other even at several months in. There is a real personal interest in their approach. They truly helped me feel focused and at ease with the move, despite the unsettling situation that was unfolding at that time with the pandemic.”
Since its inception more than 30 years ago, Microcel has become one of Canada’s preeminent consumer electronics distributors, providing access to the Canadian retail market to prominent global OEM vendors such as GoalZero, Tile, Belkin, Fitbit and Logitech. Microcel distributes to a network of over 5,000 points of purchase for some of Canada’s largest big box retailers, electronic stores, DIY, e-commerce, specialty outdoor and sports stores that include Walmart, the Source, Best Buy, Amazon and Home Depot, among many others.
Toronto-based Rosenzweig & Company is an executive search firm focused on the critical, often specialized recruiting needs of its clients. The firm also offers management assessment, onboarding and executive coaching, organizational effectiveness, digital media strategy, and risk advisory and compliance services to a growing international client base.
Mr. Rosenzweig, the founding partner of the firm, is an expert in designing, building and attracting world-class executive teams. He consults to public and private companies, including large global corporations, emerging growth to mid-sized businesses, professional services firms, and private equity and venture capital firms.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media