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issue: December 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

People
Alan Shaw of Char-Broil


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If anyone is used to change, it can be said that Char-Broil's CEO Alan Shaw is a pro at it. In fact, Shaw says his career has been full of the new and unexpected, and both his background and future plans with Char-Broil proves it.

Shaw started his career with Whirlpool Corporation in 1987 after earning a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science from the University of Idaho (Moscow, Idaho, U.S.) in 1985 and a Master of Business Administration in marketing from Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.) in 1987. It was with the Benton Harbor, Michigan, U.S.-based appliance maker that Shaw started as a product manager in 1987.

Shaw quickly adapted to a new environment in 1991 when he moved to work at Whirlpool's facility in Joinville, Brazil to take the position of director of Marketing and Merchandising. He adapted to change again when he moved to work as Whirlpool's director of Laundry Marketing from 1994 to 1995 and a project general manager from 1995 to 1997 in Singapore for the regional and Indian markets. It was with these experiences that Shaw says he realized change should be welcomed into the workplace.

"Early on in my career, I was fortunate to work in a fast-paced Brazilian market that, for me, changed all the rules about predicting the future and responding to changes in the marketplace," he tells APPLIANCE. "The local leadership embraced change as an opportunity to improve. They truly viewed change as a competitive weapon rather than an obstacle."

After assuming his final position with Whirlpool as a vice president of Customer Relationship Management in 2001, Shaw took the role of CEO and president of Murray Group of Companies in Brentwood, Tennessee, U.S. It was here that Shaw led the international lawn and garden equipment maker through its recent sale, which he says has been the most rewarding experiences in his career to date. "When Murray's financial sponsor collapsed, we were on our own to find new capital, new ownership and a new board," Shaw explains. "The entire company recognized the situation we were in and pulled together. Despite the upheaval and uncertain future, virtually no one left the company until it was sold and the objective was achieved."

Now, as CEO of Char-Broil, a division of W.C. Bradley Co., Shaw is leading another change as the Columbus, Georgia, U.S.-based company is transitioning its U.S. manufacturing to Asia. Shaw says that although change is tough, it is imperative to a company's success. "Most companies refine their approaches and skills but rarely overhaul them. Lately, many durable companies find themselves making repetitious incremental changes to try to stay above water," Shaw says. "Often this will only prolong the need to make the dramatic shift necessary to find long-term success."

As for the Char-Broil's upcoming change, Shaw says he is optimistic. "Char-Broil has an excellent history of innovation and the development pipeline continues to be full," he says. "The team is excited and committed to the challenge ahead. We are well positioned to execute the change, but, as usual, the devil is in the details.

"I have been described as calm and patient in my approach to a crisis or new challenge. Because of this, I am attracted to new challenges. The more complicated [the challenge], the better-especially if it has an international component."

Besides looking forward to business changes, Shaw enjoys a changing landscape and travels with his wife and two children, in addition to playing golf.

 

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