LAKE SUCCESS, NY — Eighteen months into his tenure as president and chief executive officer of the Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Mark L. Schiller said there have been several “surprises” — positive and negative — since taking the helm.
Opting to start with the negative, Mr. Schiller said he was surprised by how little process existed at Hain prior to his arrival.
“I thought there would be basic processes and I'd just have to tweak them,” he said during a May 27 presentation as part of the virtual Sanford C Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference. “But in fact, really, every brand was doing its own thing. And there was very, very little process, which was a huge part of the problem.”
Mr. Schiller said it took a lot of “heavy lifting” during the first 12 months of his tenure to get the right people and processes in place. After a lot of hard work he said he now feels good about how the company is situated.
“We're not quite world-class yet, but we're certainly functional and taking a lot of costs out and improving as we go,” he said.
On the positive side, Mr. Schiller said he has been most impressed and surprised by the flexibility and resilience of the organization.
“This is a tough, tough turnaround,” he said. “Everybody that was here was not hired to work in a turnaround. They were hired to work in a growth company. And you bring a new leadership team in here with a very clear mandate to change the performance of the business. We've changed almost everything that we do here. And sure, there were people at the beginning who were resistant and exited the organization. But by and large, this group has been craving leadership, has been excited to go on a journey, is excited in terms of what's in it for them on the journey, not just financial rewards like getting a bonus, but training and career advancement and access to senior management and things that they really were craving in their career. And they've been very eager followers, and in many cases, have turned into eager leaders now that the mountain that we're climbing is really clear in how we're measuring success.”
The road was not always easy, he said, especially in the early months as the new management laid out its strategy.
“I felt like I was a little bit on an island,” he said. “But once people knew what we were doing and it made sense to them and they understood their part in it, they very eagerly joined in and been a huge enabler to everything that you're seeing in terms of our performance.”
Hain Celestial in the third quarter ended March 31 posted net income of $24.3 million, or 24¢ per share on the common stock, which compared with a loss of $65.8 million in the previous year’s third quarter. Net sales increased 1.1% to $553.3 million from $547.3 million.