Profile - One Experienced Rookie

Ash City CEO Doug Hayes Adapts To New Industry

Doug HayesMeet an industry outsider who suddenly found himself captaining one of the largest supplier ships.

When Doug Hayes took over as CEO and president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Ash City (asi/37127) in January, he didn’t just have to learn a new company – he had to learn a new industry. The high-powered executive has leapt the rookie year hurdles with aplomb, not only absorbing the intricacies of the corporate and promotional apparel business but also spearheading changes at Ash City that position the wearables supplier for greater growth.

“It’s an interesting industry and I’ve enjoyed the challenges,” Hayes says.

Before joining Richmond Hill, Ontario-based Ash City, Hayes served as president of Crocs Inc.’s Americas division for three years. In that role, he was responsible for all operations for North and South America, including Crocs’ wholesale and direct-to-consumer channels. Vastly experienced, Hayes has also served as president of Callaway Golf Canada, adidas-Salomon Canada Limited and Forzani Group Ltd., the latter being a major Canadian sporting goods retailer. Through this career path, Hayes has learned things that have prepared him to lead Ash City, which ranks ninth on Counselor’s 2013 list of Top 40 suppliers with North American ad specialties revenue of $142 million. “Leadership and vision are transferable,” he says.

During his first year in charge, Hayes focused on enhancing various aspects of Ash City, a process that included better aligning the sales and marketing teams. “Marketing is now much more focused on revenue-generating activities,” he says.

Under Hayes’ leadership, Ash City created service teams specifically for key accounts and re-engineered its in-house decorating operation, which includes high-volume embroidery capabilities. Such improvements are a key advantage in helping the Canadian supplier accomplish one of its top objectives – U.S. expansion.

As if that hadn’t kept Hayes busy enough, he also focused on ensuring company objectives are well-defined, an initiative helped along by “town hall” meetings for employees. “It’s my intention to bring innovative perspectives and business approaches to Ash City,” he says.

In 2013, that innovation included the introduction of two new lines: North End Sport Blue, a city-insp- ired collection that blends downtown style with cutting-edge performance features, and Core365, a value-driven line that offers functional styling.

With Hayes at the helm now – despite his initial status as an industry outsider – Ash City is headed in the right direction, says Founder and Owner Garry Hurvitz, who stepped away from the president and CEO role to bring in Hayes. “Over the next five years,” Hurvitz says, “Ash City will continue to lead the pack.”