WD Lab-Grown Diamonds has hired Sue Rechner (pictured), a veteran outdoor and footwear executive who has worked at Frederick Goldman and various watch brands, as its new chief executive officer.
She takes over the Laurel, Md.–based diamond producer from founder Clive Hill, who will continue to serve as an active board member and shareholder.
“Sue is exactly the kind of proven and experienced executive we were seeking to lead WD’s growth,” said Hill in a statement. “She is an entrepreneurial, results-driven leader with proven business, brand-development, and operational expertise. With significant experience in watch, jewelry, and consumer products, we believe Sue is the perfect fit to lead WD through its next phase of growth.”
Since 2017, Rechner has served as global president of Merrell, the footwear and apparel brand. Prior to that, she served as president and CEO of Confluence Outdoor, the outdoor products company, where she oversaw its sale to a private equity firm.
Her other roles include president of Victorinox Swiss Army and CEO of Victorinox Swiss Army Watch. She has also worked at watch brands such as Movado, Seiko, and Citizen, and jewelry company Frederick Goldman.
“I look forward to joining the WD team as we seek to expand our product and services offerings,” she said in a statement.
Rechner’s experience is mostly in leading consumer-facing brands; WD has generally avoided promoting itself but let its partners handle direct-to-consumer activities.
Michael Zukas, vice president of Huron Capital, one of WD’s owners, tells JCK that the company is looking at building its brand.
“Sue has deep experience building brands, but also has deep experience building businesses though wholesale and distributor channels,” he says. “WD’s intention is to work with its partners to build a powerful and robust go-to market strategy, and building a brand will enable WD to create competitive points of difference. This approach will be mutually beneficial for WD and its partners.”
In late 2018, Huron, a Detroit-based private equity firm, made what it calls a “significant” majority investment in the company, which also goes by the name M7D Corp.
“With WD as a leading market participant in an industry embracing lab-grown diamonds, we see a tremendous growth opportunity for the company over the next several years,” said Martin Hurwitz, CEO of MVI Marketing and a WD board member, in the WD statement.
In addition to Huron and Hill, WD is also owned by its chief technical officer Yarden Tsach; the Carnegie Institution of Washington, which developed the technology it uses; and other members of its management. The company was founded in 2008, and was originally known as Washington Diamonds.
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