Once Tech for Less’ founder and owners were approached to sell the company to industry giant, ModusLink, a search began for just the right individual to provide transition leadership and to lead the $40 million electronics remarketer to new heights.
Following more than a year’s search led by the Dixon-Midland Co., a Chicago-based investment firm, President Jason Lockwood was chosen.
Equipped with both undergraduate and master’s of business administration degrees from Harvard University, Lockwood had earned high marks within his relatively short career, both as a corporate turnaround expert and as a management consultant with McKinsey & Co.
His biggest career break came directly out of business school when he was first hired by the investment firm to rebuild a struggling U.S. Playing Card. “They were in tough shape, but had fantastic potential. And by the time I left, they generated more than $150 million in annual revenues,” he said.
The new president’s career success to date may be credited in part to five core values he considers vital to effective corporate leadership.
“You have to be honest, willing to tell the truth and face reality and to speak up when an issue must be addressed. Humility is the second value — there’s no room in a (successful) organization for a know-it-all. You have to show mutual respect to the people you work with, and exercise discipline. After all, what’s right is not always what’s easy, especially when it comes to hiring and firing or to dealing with your shareholders. Finally, you have to have passion, enthusiasm and determination. You set the tone and have to push yourself, not just your team. If you’re energetic and involved, it’s infectious,” he said.
While Lockwood said he’s had several key mentors in life, he reserves the greatest admiration for his parents who, early on and in spite of economic challenges, made education a high priority for the entire family.
“As a kid, I never needed to be pushed,” he said. “My folks taught us to take responsibility for our choices.”
He shares life with his wife and four “energetic,” young daughters — all of whom moved with him to Colorado Springs last year.
“We got settled last April. The summer was simply outstanding, and we are working our way through our first winter,” he said, adding so far the family loves it here. And, not surprisingly, after nine months the only change he said he’d like to make “is my north-facing driveway.”
As far as changes ahead for Tech for Less, he expects to incorporate new technologies and community platforms into the way his company markets its returned, refurbished and warranted electronic products. Approximately 90 percent of the company’s business currently comes from online orders, and the remainder from its Colorado Springs sales showroom off Garden of the Gods Road.
“We have yet to feel the true impact of ubiquitous mobile Internet and social media, so I expect these two phenomena will change the way we communicate and market,” he said, adding that moving the company from private to public ownership has been facilitated by the company management team which remains on board.
His toughest challenge: time management.
“There is never enough time in the day to accomplish all that you would like, so I have to ruthlessly prioritize,” he said.
Fortunately, however, Lockwood’s busy days still allow time after work to catch up on his reading. “Currently I’m reading ‘Junie B. Jones’ — a chapter every night with my first grader,” he said, adding that his next choice would be “Against the Gods: the Remarkable Story of Risk,” by Peter Bernstein.