Case Study: Morrison Supply Company

Pearson Partners Quickly Delivers First CIO for Newly Acquired Distribution Company

morrison supply logoWhen the global private equity firm Advent International completed its majority investment in Morrison Supply Company in November 2011, it planned to quickly double or even quadruple the size of the half-billion-dollar distribution company, which was already the fourth-largest distributor of plumbing and HVAC supplies in the United States. To achieve that goal, one of the first orders of business was to create a new chief information officer/vice president position that would establish a solid foundation for the company’s distribution technology, ideally positioning the business to move forward at a rapid pace.

Drawing upon the recommendations of Advent’s operating partners, Morrison Supply interviewed several executive search firms. They ultimately chose Pearson Partners to help fill this essential role with the right individual, who would oversee about a dozen IT staff members.

“Pearson Partners kept to the schedule, which was aggressive,” Hornsby notes. “Communications were very direct, and Pearson Partners worked closely with our operating partners throughout the process, which didn’t require me to get involved until we were down to four final candidates. The four I interviewed were of solid caliber. The entire process was tremendous; it was honestly as smooth as any hiring process I’ve ever experienced.”

“We were looking for the right combination of significant technology and distribution experience, as well as the ability to fit into the Morrison culture,” says Chip Hornsby, Morrison Supply’s new chief executive officer and an Advent operating partner. “We wanted someone who had the knowledge to determine what we needed to grow the business, but who also had the work ethic to get in here, roll up the sleeves and get the basics right so we would be positioned to build toward the future.”

The process began with the Pearson Partners team gaining a deep understanding of the responsibilities and skill set required for the new CIO position, as well as the existing organizational structure and the long-term vision for Morrison Supply’s distribution services. With these requisites in mind, Pearson Partners began its nationwide search process, promptly delivering more than a dozen highly qualified candidates for the initial round of interviews. The top four made it through the company’s initial vetting and into Hornsby’s office for final interviews, and one ideal candidate—Joe Lacik, the former CIO/senior vice president information services of Aviall Services, a Boeing company—was offered the job.

From start to finish, the entire search took fewer than 90 days, and Hornsby could not be more pleased with the process and Lacik’s job performance to date. Within three months of his start date, Lacik had completed his analysis of Morrison’s existing IT systems, evaluated other technology options and presented to the company’s board of directors his strategic recommendations for building a strong technology backbone for Morrison Supply.

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