Melinda Whittington to succeed Darrow as CEO; Darrow to remain chairman of the board
MONROE, Mich. – La-Z-Boy has announced that Kurt Darrow will retire as president and CEO after more than 40 years of service at the company, effective April 25.
Darrow will remain chairman of La-Z-Boy’s board of directors in a non-executive capacity. Melinda Whittington, currently chief financial officer, will succeed Darrow as CEO. Whittington also was elected to the board of directors, effective April 25.
Vice President of Finance Robert Lucian will take over the CFO spot from Whittington.
Darrow has served as president and CEO for 17 years, as well as board chairman for the past decade.
“I have had the opportunity to watch and be part of this company’s evolution from a manufacturer of a single product, the iconic La-Z-Boy recliner, to become the second-largest provider of residential furniture in the U.S., with a growing and vibrant La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries retail network,” Darrow said in a release.
“As a team, we have delivered long-term profitable growth in a dynamic industry, which has weathered monumental change. I am proud of every employee across our organization, all of whom have and continue to contribute to our success, and it has been a motivating and gratifying privilege to work with them while honoring the legacy of our founders and the values they instilled upon our company and culture.”
Darrow added that Whittington’s more than 30 years of experience, including consumer products expertise, capability in operational and financial matters, strategic vision and sharp focus, will guide the company forward in an evolving landscape for home furnishings.
“It is the right time for Melinda to take the helm,” Darrow said. “Her strategic acumen and demonstrated leadership skills position her to successfully lead La-Z-Boy to and through its next chapter of growth. The company is in excellent shape, and as I step away from the day-to-day operations, I have every confidence Melinda and our top-tier leadership team will leverage the many opportunities that lie ahead for La-Z-Boy.”
W. Alan McCollough, lead board director, praised Darrow’s impact on La-Z-Boy.
“During his tenure as CEO, he strengthened the La-Z-Boy brand, honed the company’s portfolio, championed and evolved the company’s integrated-retail strategy, and entered the company into the e-commerce arena,” McCollough said. “Kurt’s vision for the future helped transform La-Z-Boy’s global supply chain into a value-creating asset and set the company on a course for continued growth and profitability. Kurt led the company through two of the most challenging times in its history, the Great Recession and, more recently, through uncharted territory resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic. La-Z-Boy was fortunate to have a CEO of his caliber. On behalf of the board and the entire La-Z-Boy organization, I thank him for his many contributions to the company and look forward to his continued leadership of our board.”
Whittington said she was honored to lead the iconic La-Z-Boy brand.
“We have a solid platform from which to grow and prosper and a bright future ahead,” she said. “Our team is proven, passionate and skilled, and we will capitalize on opportunities for future growth and innovation, including the build out of our omnichannel presence while we help consumers turn their houses into homes. I would like to thank Kurt and the board for placing their trust and confidence in me as I move into the CEO role and lead a company made up of people with extraordinary talent and dedication.”
Whittington added that Lucian’s financial expertise and business acumen, including more than three decades of experience at The Procter and Gamble Co., will make for a seamless move into the CFO role.
“During his past two years as La-Z-Boy’s VP, finance, he brought meaningful improvement to the organization’s finance processes and business decision making,” Whittington said. “I’m confident he will continue to provide financial and business leadership as our CFO.”