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June 2020

Tula Talks: John Lyons from Tula Executive Search and a challenging executive search assignment

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Sounds like a straightforward executive search assignment. The client is a US & Canada distributor of French garden, patio and outdoor furniture and accessories, “Mittelstand”, employing around 30 people. It is located in the north of Atlanta, has been operating for 20 years and generates annual sales of approx. $10 million. The General Manager is retiring so a replacement GM/National Sales Manager needs to be recruited.

John LyonsFor John Lyons of Tula Executive Search ( one of AGILIUM WORLDWIDE’s members in the USA, this recently conducted search turned out to be a challenging obstacle race. What were the hurdles, and how did John overcome them?

Hurdle #1: The compensation package. What may have sufficed for the existing GM turned out to be insufficient to attract first-class candidates to apply for the position. With John’s advice a new package was created, the conditions were enhanced and more in line with the costs of a quality replacement.

Hurdle # 2: The location of the US subsidiary – approximately 30 miles north of Atlanta – meant a demanding commute from the best residential areas of Atlanta and proved to be a no-go for potential candidates. The metropolitan area of Atlanta is home to 6.6 million people, with large industrial areas in the north, and residential areas in the south. Potential candidates from Florida and Texas were not keen on relocating to Atlanta.

Hurdle # 3: The perfect fit. Finding a suitable candidate with the right skills set within a very specialized garden and patio furniture market seemed to be a mission impossible. John decided to change the direction and target of his search away from this niche market and more towards the local, general furniture business within a 20-mile radius of the USA offices.

The results were immediate and comprised seven suitable candidates, of which three turned out to be excellent for presenting to the client in a series of interviews with and without the French parent company. After an unusually long, four-month project time, the values were matched perfectly, this pretty unique position was filled and the project was finalized.

John Lyons: “ The outdoor and patio furniture search was another specific example of how each executive search is a custom search. Being able to satisfy the client’s needs and requirements demands constant brainstorming to identify the best approach that will produce the desired results. It is this constant challenge that makes the Executive Search business so interesting to work in.”

John Lyons (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is a Senior Managing Consultant with Tula Executive Search. His international career started with Saint Gobain/Certain Teed Corporation in Paris. After returning to the United States, he founded Intercontinental Business Services Corp. a firm dedicated to assisting French companies expand their business in North America. Additionally, John has been the US delegate for Cobaty International, the largest multi-professional construction association in the world for the past 12 years. As a simultaneous translator, he translated for CNN over the air for Simon Perez, Francois Mitterrand, Tony Blair and other world leaders. John majored in International Economics and French at the University of Notre Dame.

Founded in 1984, AGILIUM WORLDWIDE LLC ( is an international executive search group of independent, owner-managed retained executive search firms, with members who are active in virtually every market. AGILIUM WORLDWIDE ranks among the world’s top 25 executive search organizations.

AGILIUM WORLDWIDE’s member firms offer personalized, specialized, client-oriented services. By eliminating the formally structured, pre-programmed approach they can remain proactive and secure prompt, skilled and expert service to their clients, to help them find the “Perfect Fit” – the right person for the right position, at the right time, at the right location.

AGILIUM WORLDWIDE member firms are trusted advisors to companies from the Fortune 500, as well as to upcoming and start-up companies around the globe. Clients get the best of both worlds: an entrepreneurial approach with global reach and local perspective.


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