BuildDirect stacks new team with ex-Amazon execs
Online home improvement retailer BuildDirect on Monday said that newly arrived CEO Dan Park has built up its new leadership team and packed it with a few of his former colleagues at Amazon. This includes Ken Stanick, formerly Amazon Business director of sales and channels and part of the core team that strategized and launched it in 2015, as chief revenue officer, charged with building strategies to accelerate revenue during the organization’s growth stage.
Former Amazon Business Director Mukund Mohan, also a serial entrepreneur, will be chief technology officer, overseeing BuildDirect’s global product and engineering teams and spearheading the delivery of services and technology to disrupt the home improvement industry, according to a company press release.
Godwin Pavamani, who’s served at Amazon, Sony and Dell, is chief merchandising officer and general manager of marketplace, responsible for BuildDirect’s marketplace P&L across sourcing, category expansion, seller and buyer experience, pricing strategy, site merchandising and in-stock management. And Stephanie Roberts, who has been chief financial officer at Specialized Bicycle Components and at Old Navy, will be interim chief financial officer, the company said.
Home improvement sales so far have been slow shift to e-commerce, although as Amazon boosts sales in the category, stalwarts Home Depot and Lowe's have moved online too.
Amazon does have catching up to do in terms of raw sales across all sub-categories in home improvement, but its sales of tools and other home improvement items grew 25% last year to $6.1 billion, according to One Click Retail. Meanwhile, Home Depot's first quarter e-commerce sales rose 20% this year, while Lowe's said it saw comp sales growth of 20% online in the first quarter, or about 5% of sales.
And BuildDirect may be poised to speed things up.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company is nearly two decades old, but last year went through a bankruptcy-protected restructuring that sent its founder and CEO, Jeff Booth, packing. "We had an interesting ecommerce company. Then we blew it up … on purpose," he wrote on LinkedIn at the time. "Most people who looked at BuildDirect a few years ago would have seen us as a successful online retailer of home improvement supplies.... But we were victims of our own success. Customers wanted to buy more from us, but we were failing them because, much of the time, we didn’t have the inventory to make the sale."
Booth said then that BuildDirect was shifting from being an e-commerce company to a platform. Which is where Park and his Amazon-experienced team come in. "BuildDirect is an innovative technology platform that is uniquely designed to sell heavy home improvement products online," Mohan said on LinkedIn on Monday. "The company is operating in a massive and fragmented industry that has not seen true innovation since the big box store. And yet our goal is to make ordering flooring as simple and easy as ordering a book. This is not an average problem to solve and it’s a leap ahead of today’s reality."
The bankruptcy appears to be a bump in the road. The company had filed for protection in October and emerged just five months later with fresh votes of confidence from its investors. In March, BuildDirect announced it had raised $28 million of new funds and converted $15 million of interim financing provided during the bankruptcy proceedings, led by Mohr Davidow Ventures. Other new and existing investors in that round were Fidelity Investments Canada, Pelecanus Investments, Lyra Growth Partners and Beedie Capital.
In addition to the appointments of Mohan, Stanick, Pavamani and Roberts, BuildDirect said that Larry Ellis has been promoted to vice president, gateway supply chain and that Suzanne Mercier, who has been with the company since 2013, remains as BuildDirect’s chief legal and people officer.
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