Case Study: Rent-A-Center

New Board Members’ Diverse Expertise Helps Guide Growing Retailer

rent a center logoAs a board of directors plays a crucial role in guiding a company, its members must be chosen with utmost care. A diverse board helps ensure that those members steering the company offer a broad range of insights based on distinct skills and experience. Rent-A-Center’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mark Speese understood the importance of finding the right additions to his company’s board and entrusted the search to Pearson Partners International.

Based in Plano, Texas, Rent-A-Center (RAC) is a Fortune 750 company that owns and operates more than 3,000 stores in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico. The stores offer electronics, appliances, computers, furniture and accessories on a rent-to-own basis. The publicly traded company (NASDAQ/NGS: RCII) is the nation’s largest rent-to-own operator and employs more than 18,990 people.

As existing RAC board members’ agreed-upon terms expired or career responsibilities called them away from the board, Speese sought to capitalize on the openings to add specific skills and experience to the group.

“In one case, I wanted strong retail operational expertise,” Speese explains. “In another case, I was interested in marketing and advertising expertise. In a third instance, I was looking for financial expertise.”

To find the right people for RAC’s board, Speese selected Pearson Partners International after several trusted colleagues recommended the firm.

“I felt comfortable with Pearson Partners’ Chief Executive Officer Bob Pearson and his past experience in the field as well as the contacts and relationships the firm has here in Dallas,” Speese says.

In each case, Speese says, the Pearson Partners team listened carefully to his description of the skills and experience he was looking for and then created thorough, accurate company and job descriptions to provide to the candidates. Speese also notes that Pearson Partners has saved him time by carefully screening candidates before they’re presented.

“Pearson Partners does a good job educating these candidates about the opportunity and filtering the candidates so that only those with the right skills, fit and interest make it to me,” he says.

To date, Pearson Partners has found the ideal candidates for three open board positions, helping RAC build a well-rounded board with the expertise to guide the company into a strong future. In May 2008, Kerney Laday, president of The Laday Company, a management consulting and business development firm, joined the board. His experience in management and operations is just what Speese was looking for to lend additional insight and perspective to the company.

Michael Gade, founding partner of Challance Group, L.L.P., and an executive in residence and professor of marketing and retailing at the University of North Texas, joined the board in May 2005. Gade has thirty years of marketing and management experience, most recently serving as a senior executive for the southwest region of Home Depot, Inc. His 30 years of leadership, much of it in the retail sector, provide additional depth for the board.

Leonard Roberts, former executive chairman of the board of RadioShack Corp., became a RAC director in September 2006. Roberts had previously served as RadioShack’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer and as its president. Formerly, Roberts was chairman and CEO of Shoney’s, Inc. and president and CEO of Arby’s, Inc. The unique retail marketing perspective he brings to the board has helped guide RAC in executing its strategic plan and growing its business.

Speese says he’s been pleased with the quality of candidates presented by Pearson Partners and that those chosen have worked out well for the company.

“I have had this relationship with Pearson Partners for seven years and continue to utilize them,” Speese said. “They have high integrity. They do a good job of sourcing high quality candidates that match the needs I have. And, they have been timely in terms of their ability to get it done.”

Read other examples of how Pearson Partners helps clients build world-class leadership teams.

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