Musings on executive changes at Norwalk

HIGH POINT — As a firm believer in the “if-it-ain’t broke-don’t-fix-it mindset,” I’m struggling to wrap my mind around why Norwalk Furniture opted to shuffle the management deck and replace industry icon Caroline Hipple as president.

From what I know, Danny Camp, who, according to LinkedIn, is the owner and vice president of Payne Nickles & Co., a full-service accounting and business advisory firm, is stepping in as interim president while Norwalk Furniture conducts a search for a new president.

Caroline Hipple

Looking at Camp’s information on LinkedIn, it’s clear that he undoubtedly can read a P&L and balance a budget with the best of them.

Also, to his credit, my understanding is that he was instrumental in lining up the working capital that allowed Norwalk to begin its reinvention in 2008 after shutting down that same year.

So, what’s my point? While Camp may be a great interim place holder while the company looks for a new president, the challenge of wedding fabric to frame, creating and inspiring internal teams and igniting  consumer inspiration is best left in the hands of someone who creates inspirations as opposed to counts beans.

My unsolicited advice to anyone involved in the search to replace Caroline Hipple is simple: You need to find someone who can out-Hipple Hipple. And good luck with that.

Say what you will (or won’t) about Caroline Hipple, but I can’t think of too many people who do a better job creating a vision, creating excitement and motivating a team of other visionaries who seem to have the ability to raise the bar at Norwalk market after market after market.

I won’t even bother to summarize her time in the business before coming to Norwalk, but I will point out that for some eight years before Norwalk named her president in 2016, she and her partner at HB2 Resources, Dixon Bartlett, took what then many would say was a reemerging  Norwalk Furniture and revived and revitalized it by providing strategic direction, creative direction, product development and fabric curation.

Upon taking the helm as Norwalk’s president, she and the team she created spit-shined a then-tarnished brand, reenergized the company culture and further pumped up the design talent with design partners including Kim Salmela, Chris Chapin and others.

Hipple, who also flipped the switch on sales and profits, is credited with spearheading an ESOP that both rewarded the investors for saving the company and also benefited the employees for creating a platform for that success.

From where I sit, Hipple helped put Norwalk in the passing lane of the fast track. 

Along the way, the people at Norwalk, and the products they made, brought the company lots of dollars, which is why, to me, this shuffling of the management deck makes no sense.

While the industry waits and watches to see who replaces Hipple, let’s hope this shuffling of the management deck does not turn Norwalk into a house of cards.

Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Musings on executive changes at Norwalk

  1. Ray, couldn’t agree with you more.
    Iam sure Caroline will continue to do well in the future.
    The question is will Norwalk?
    Danny Camp certainly has good credentials, but as we are all to aware , and as you have stated ,it takes more than a bean counter for long term success.
    Too many times in the past this move has not had great results.
    Wishing both of them the best.

    1. Michael, thank you for taking time to respond, and I agree with you I wish all parties concerned the best of luck and the brightest of all possible futures

  2. I can’t think of a logical reason for this change and I can’t see how it will benefit Norwalk.

    I wish everyone well but this seems like a mistake to me, a big one.

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