Gary Iskra became president and CEO of Pacesetter in July 2002, after more than 25 years experience in the home improvement industry. On April 1 of this year, Pacesetter announced that Iskra had purchased the manufacturing and sales divisions of the company from prior owners Phil and Harley Schrager. Pacesetter was founded in 1962 by Phil Schrager, who retains ownership of the company's finance division.
Replacement Contractor: What's changed at Pacesetter since you became president and CEO?
Gary Iskra: I'd worked for Pacesetter, so when I came here I knew the company and its culture. I also knew that there had been attempts to revamp the marketing and sales and the installation and service needs. But it was essentially the same model I'd known for 20 years prior. I knew there was quite an opportunity to come in with fresh ideas and new perspectives and wake this sleeping giant.
RC: A large percentage of your leads came from outbound telemarketing. Has that changed?
G.I.: A few years ago, over 90% of our leads came from cold calling. Right now, telemarketing leads make up about a third of our leads/sales mix. The company was entrenched in that methodology. I had a very short time to restructure the lead model.
RC: Where did those marketing dollars go?
G.I.: Television, direct response, and an expanded Internet presence. I also created a relationship with The Home Service Store/Sam's Club. In 10 months, we opened in 165 Sam's Clubs. On top of that, we're in 24 to 26 Kmarts, and we've just ventured into several Garden Ridge stores in the Southwest.
RC: Are you reaching a different customer?
G.I.: We're accessing a somewhat different demographic with some of these [SFI] relationships. We've also made a switch from the secondary, rural market areas to metropolitan areas.
RC: How has your product line changed?
G.I.: What I did was take each product line and revamp it to offer broader selection, more choices. That gives our sales force more selling tools and options. We've expanded the window lines, added several siding lines, revamped our cabinet refacing, and changed our door lines. We've also phased out of the fiberglass window and are back in the vinyl window business.
RC: How have these changes been reflected in sales?
G.I.: We grew the business 6.5% last year. We're anticipating slightly more than 10% controlled growth this year. Our internal battle cry is that we want to build the best-ever model in the industry. I wouldn't have come back into the business if I didn't believe we could do that.