Supplier Woman of Distinction: Sharon Willochell

Meet Leed's Sharon Willochell

Sharon WillochellAt a company so well-known for its pacesetting service and innovative products that it scooped up nine Counselor Distributor Choice Awards this year, it's the wonder woman behind the scenes at Leed's (asi/66887) who has the superhero-esque task of keeping the considerable, and moving-at-the-speed-of-light, train on the tracks.

With the company since 1998 when it cracked the Counselor Top 25 (its early incarnation) with $31.2 million in sales, Sharon Willochell, COO of Leed's, has seven direct reports but ultimately oversees 750 people in such critical departments as order processing, artwork processing, customer service, production, warehouse and engineering, HR, IT, inventory planning and logistics, in addition to QC. Yet she does it with even-handedness and streamlined efficiency, all while raising her five-year-old son and volunteering on boards and committees to empower women.

And with 850 new Leed's products introduced just this year and the company's SureShip one-day service program to maintain, she has her hands full. "I've had the pleasure and honor of working with Sharon for the past 14 years, and there's no question in my mind that Leed's would not have reached its level of success without her leadership, vision and commitment," says David Nicholson, president of Polyconcept North America, parent company of Leed's. "Through an unwavering focus, she has been the driver behind our extraordinary service culture and legendary dependability. What's most impressive is what she accomplished during a period of time when we went from a small start-up to one of the largest suppliers in the industry."

Willochell, who says she's not so much a "touchy-feely person" as she is a realist, brings an empathetic view toward Leed's clients to the table. "We do so much innovation in products, services and brand partnerships; remaining nimble in doing that while still maintaining our level of excellence and service is crucial. We need to pursue every opportunity, but execute them in a way that clients have come to expect from us. My constant goal is to make life easy for our distributors. Because when you're Leed's, you can't stumble," she says. Laughing, she adds, "This is why I don't sleep at night."