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Monday, May 27, 2024

OPI Hires New Executive

After more than three decades at the helm of nail care giant OPI, Founder and CEO George Schaeffer has brought in some relief at the top. Late last month, the 65-year-old executive hired former competitor John Heffner to be the North Hollywood-based company’s president and general manager. Heffner was the one-time CEO of CND (Creative Nail Design Inc.) based in Vista, Calif. The beauty industry veteran now oversees daily operations of OPI, liberating Schaeffer from paperwork and other such mundane details of running the company. “I wanted to slow down, and I wanted someone who knew the industry,” Schaeffer said, noting the decision to hire Heffner was not part of an exit strategy. “We’ve known each other for years, and John is perfect for this job,” he said. “It’ll give me a chance to do work with clients.” Since starting OPI in 1981, Schaeffer has guided the company from its origins as a small dental supply company to become one of the world’s largest nail care companies, supplying salon professionals and consumers alike. Coty Inc. purchased OPI in 2010 in a deal reportedly worth an estimated $1 billion. Sales topped $200 million in 2010, according to the company. OPI currently employs about 675. Even under Coty’s corporate umbrella, OPI has maintained its independence with Schaeffer making day-to-day decisions. That autonomy will remain intact with Heffner as president, the company emphasized. “(Coty) is very much in favor of leaving things alone,” Schaeffer said. “Nobody from Coty came in and nobody quit because of Coty.” Growth strategy Despite the recession, the nail care industry has grown exponentially in recent years, and OPI and parent company Coty are no exception. In 2010, OPI sold 30 million bottles. “The nail business is booming,” Heffner said. The nail care industry is expected to generate $7.3 billion in sales this year, according to research by the trade publication Nails Magazine. Heffner said he wants to ensure that the company continues to reap a healthy share of that sum under his leadership. And industry experts say he’s just the man for the job. “He has great vision and a sense of perspective about the industry that will prove to be invaluable. I have no doubt he will help lead OPI into another successful chapter,” said Steve Sleeper, executive director of the Professional Beauty Association. Schaeffer said for the calendar year OPI sales were up 30 percent compared to a year ago. “We want to continue to exceed double-digit growth,” Heffner said. “It’s an innovation business, and I can tell you as a former competitor that OPI is an innovator.” OPI has been a major mass market producer of nail care products since the 1997 introduction of Nicole by OPI, a product named after Schaeffer’s daughter. Sold by major retailers such as Sephora and Target, Nicole has helped fuel sales and transform OPI into a major consumer brand. Heffner will oversee finances and production, and will work with Chief Creative Officer and Executive Vice President Suzi Weiss-Fischmann to coordinate marketing efforts. Weiss-Fischmann, a longtime partner of Schaeffer’s, will continue to choose most of the OPI nail lacquer colors and develop marketing strategies that target fans of pop culture figures, such as rap star Nikki Minaj and the Kardashians, who have endorsed the company’s products. Heffner, Weiss-Fischmann, and Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Eric Schwartz will report directly to Schaeffer. Weiss-Fischmann has been helping Schaeffer with his duties in recent years. “The heart and soul of this company is getting the right color,” Schaeffer said. “For her to be helping me out was just ridiculous.” Heffner says he is beginning to settle into the position and is looking forward to finishing his career at the company, much like other OPI longstanding employees. “This will free George up,” Heffner said. Schaeffer agreed, noting that he was excited and looking forward to no longer dealing with paperwork.

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