Search Firms Team Up to Recruit Martial Arts Leader

May 12, 2017 – ATA International, which promotes and teaches the martial arts, has chosen Neil Morton as its new chief executive officer. Search firms LH International of New York, and ASCENT Select Talent Capital of Greensboro, NC, worked cooperatively on the assignment.

ATA International, formerly the American Taekwondo Association, is based in Little Rock. With more than 950 licensed locations around the world, ATA claims to be the world’s largest organization dedicated to teaching the martial arts to families and others.

Founded in 1969 in Omaha, ATA’s worldwide membership is 350,000. The group moved to Little Rock eight years later and was international by 1983. Children age 12 and under make up 75 percent of the organization’s members, but it also provides courses for teenagers and adults.

The Recruiters

James Lyons, president of LH International, managed the search, working directly with ATA. He was assisted by Michael Suderman, managing partner of ASCENT, who sourced the candidates.

The firms came together through NPAworldwide, a Grand Rapids, MI-based global network of independent search firms in which members share information to help fill openings for clients. The firms use a private sharing tool to access a pool of passive candidates from some 500 offices and 1,300 search consultants.

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LH International won the assignment because of its reputation for filling C-level roles both in the U.S. and around the world, said Mr. Lyons. Mr. Suderman, for his part, described his NPAworldwide partners as an extension of his own firm. “Jim provides the same level of detail I would obtain if I were working directly with a client, which makes it possible to tailor my recruitment efforts for the best results,” he said.

Mr. Suderman specializes in supply chain, distribution, logistics and finance for clients located domestically and internationally. He has more than 10 years of experience placing mid- to senior-level executives. Mr. Lyons focuses on the recruitment of mid- and senior-level sales and corporate executives across numerous industries with a broader executive placement experience in financial product software, vendor side technologies, capital markets and financial services.


NPAworldwide recently added five new member firms in North America and Asia. It now has close to 500 member offices across six continents. Membership in the network allows independent recruiters to serve their clients and candidates by partnering with other member firms on a split-fee basis. Here are the five latest additions:

  • Eleven 11, based in Denver, makes placements in the areas of engineering, environmental, food, oil / gas / refinery, pharmaceutical, pulp and paper, alternative energy, consulting, human resources, sales, C-level executives, therapists, medical device, construction, manufacturing, and production;
  • STI Professionals, located in Detroit, offers recruiting services in the technical/engineering, IT (information technology), creative and marketing, business analyst, accounting and office support areas;
  • Personnel Search Ltd., headquartered in Moncton, New Brunswick, places professionals in the areas of accounting, finance, chemicals, engineering, environmental, food, oil / gas / refinery, pulp and paper, administration, advertising, business development, executive management, human resources, marketing, sales, defense, information technology, construction, logistics, manufacturing, mining, operations, production, supply chain, and transportation;
  • Ethical Search, based in Rock Island, IL, is a national recruiting firm working on positions in engineering, operations management, maintenance management and logistics;
  • Avid Placement, located in Gujarat, India, provides IT recruitment and consultancy services.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor — Hunt Scanlon Media

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