A look back from our founder, Chuck Lew

March 8, 2018 – Thirty-nine years ago this week, I (Chuck Lew) moved to Charlotte and started Coleman Lew + Associates. My goal was to build a high-quality executive search firm that provided exemplary service. I hoped the firm would grow, and I dared to dream it would last.

We’ve exceeded beyond anything I could have imagined.

For the past decade, we have been working on a succession plan, which is one of the most important tasks a company founder ever takes on.

As a search consultant, I have done this scores of times for CEOs and owners of large private firms. It is harder to do it within your own firm. As I have counseled many CEOs, presidents and owners over the years: The next CEO needs to be smarter and tougher than the previous one. Not tough with people or clients, but tough-minded. Tough enough to make difficult decisions, to retain what’s good and to be willing to change parts of the firm that should be changed. (And the outgoing leader mustn’t infringe on that right.)

We are fortunate at Coleman Lew to have hired such a leader a few years ago. Shana Plott has been running Coleman Lew for more than three years. She’s been our CEO for the past 15 months and has strengthened — in every possible way — an already solid firm.

In 2017, we finished our third record year of performance, in every metric known to a business. Our completion rate for searches is more than 93%. Our repeat business is more than 88%. Shana has led improvements in ways that aren’t as easy to measure.

Our business — like most — can be stressful. Shana has made having fun and celebrating success a priority.

And we’ve had much to celebrate — like long-time staffers who provide continuity and deep institutional and industry knowledge. And new teammates who have brought energy and technical savvy to the firm.

I couldn’t be prouder of the firm my teammates — past and present — and I have built together. And I couldn’t be more excited about the new generation of leadership.

Thank you for contributing to our success during these first 39 years.