May 17, 2018 – Beverly Hills, CA-based executive recruitment firm Ventura Partners has placed Courtney Gruber as the new chief retail officer for drybar, a blowout hair salon chain. Ventura founder and partner Julie Ford led the search.
“Courtney is the consummate, ‘customer first’ executive and a dynamic, well-rounded leader with a proven track record of success,” said John Hefner, CEO of Irvine, CA-based drybar. “She will be a champion of customer experience, ensuring that our clients have an outstanding experience at every location, every time. We’re thrilled to welcome her to the team.”
The chief retail officer role, more commonly known as vice president of retail, encompasses running all retail operations.
A National Search
The search took three to four months to complete. “The process was straightforward,” said Ms. Ford. “We focused on candidates in high-touch, customer service in specialty retail, nationally.”
Smoothing the way was the popularity of the client company, she said, which was founded 10 years ago by stylist Alli Webb. “We had a good story to tell,” said Ms. Ford. “The drybar brand has tremendous strength in the market along with the reputation of the CEO, plus outstanding growth – it was easy to attract candidates.”
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Ms. Gruber rose to the top of the candidate list, largely because she seemed likely to thrive in the drybar environment. “She was the best culture fit for the company,” said Ms. Ford.
An Ideal Fit
Ms. Gruber spent her early career with Target, rapidly rising through the organization to the district and regional leadership level, managing groups of stores and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales volume. Most recently, she served as vice president of premium and mall brands for the Beautiful Group/ Regis Corp., developing strategies, communication, best practices and execution for the premium/mall brand division while creating a culture of accountability through positive leadership, training, development and coaching for 900 salon operations with 7,500 employees across North America.
drybar, which specializes in just blowouts, operates more than 100 locations throughout North America. Its growing product line is sold through its own shops, as well as Sephora, Nordstrom, Ulta and Bloomingdale’s.
Ms. Ford brings over 20 years of relevant business experience to her work in executive search. Her expertise extends to the retail and apparel segments of the consumer industry as well as lifestyle-oriented businesses including the action-sports, outdoors and entertainment categories. She has recruited CEOs, COOs, presidents and general managers, as well as other senior leaders into areas such as marketing, sales, merchandising, finance, human resources and operations. Over the course of her career, she has placed over 200 senior executives.
A Seasoned Recruiter
Ms. Ford has had successful placements in a number of Fortune 1000 companies as well as in several smaller, yet often world-renowned, high-growth branded businesses. She has also recruited executives for private equity-sponsored companies, as well as for diverse and owner/founder-run businesses. In addition, she has completed numerous high-profile searches for Gen-X, Gen-Y and Gen-Z genre companies.
Prior to Ventura Partners, Ms. Ford was a partner with Heidrick & Struggles. Before that, she was with Korn Ferry. With both firms, she played leading roles in the action sports, lifestyle and outdoor industry sectors within their respective consumer markets practices.
Ventura Partners, which also has offices in Chicago and Atlanta, is a senior executive search and assessment specialty firm that specializes in recruiting C-level executives in consumer products and services, industrial products and services, and retail. The firm, which was founded in 2010, also operates a sports management practice and a CFO specialty practice which has recruited over 100 CFOs for private equity-owned companies.
A Top-Rated Search Firm
Ventura Partners was recently named among Hunt Scanlon Media’s Top 40 sports, media & entertainment search firms. Among its recent placements, the firm recruited Dave Larson to become the chief marketing officer of 5.11 Tactical Inc. in Irvine, CA. Bob Damon, a partner at Ventura, led the assignment.
Encompassing top-tier athletic brands, Mr. Larson’s career includes executive marketing roles with Nike, Reebok, Brooks Running and Under Armour. He spent almost 12 years at Brooks Running, where he led marketing as Brooks grew from $70 million to over $500 million. Mr. Larson was the key leader behind Brooks’ break-through “Run Happy” campaign. His most recent experience was with Under Armour as the senior vice president/general manager of global running.
Ventura Partners was also recently selected to lead the University of Utah’s search for a new athletic director. AD Chris Hill recently announced that he plans to retire this spring after 31 years on the job. Chad Chatlos, sports practice leader at Ventura Partners, is handling the assignment, which is expected to be completed by the end of June.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media