Bak USA has pulled in a former Mattel Inc. executive to help craft lasting sales and revenue strategies.
As chief commercial officer, Chuck Scothon will oversee product and commercial teams at the unique Buffalo-based company, which designs and manufactures tablets, laptops and two-in-one hybrids for targeted industries.
Scothon amounts to a major coup for the fledgling company and will inject high-level experience aligning products, brands and markets.
“He’s in charge of shoring up the commercial interests of the company,” said Christian Bak, the company’s chief technology officer. “He’s tasked with making sure our revenue stream is sustainable and also aligned with the long-term vision of the company.”
The company has largely been run by Christian and his parents, J.P. and Ulla Bak, Danish entrepreneurs who founded the company several years ago.
Bak USA is trying to do something remarkable: to found a U.S.-based hardware maker that competes in markets alongside international electronics companies, and to do it from Buffalo. The company has pulled in about $20 million in private funding the last few years, led by B. Thomas Golisano, and recently unveiled greatly expanded headquarters in the Compass East building that straddles downtown Buffalo and its East Side. It eventually hopes to replicate that facility in cities across the U.S., building a diverse workforce in job-needy places.
Starting in the mid-1990s, Scothon spent about 10 years in Western New York working for Fisher-Price, including a stint as its senior vice president of marketing. He has spent 10 more years in Los Angeles working for Mattel, filling such roles as general manager and senior vice president of Mattel Digital and senior vice president of marketing, North America. He left Mattel about four years ago and has been doing consulting since.
Scothon, 51, will keep his residence in Los Angeles while his daughter is in high school but plans to spend about 50 percent of his time working out of Buffalo. He hopes to someday move here permanently, although that may depend on the evolving footprint of the company.
Scothon plans to use his experience to help craft big picture strategy as the company seeks to carve out a profitable piece of the tablet and laptop marketplace. He said the company is already on the right path, in that it designs products for specific end-users such as school districts, hospitals, construction companies and corporate interests.
“What I like is they’re doing things differently in a market where everybody seems to be doing the same thing,” Scothon said.
Bak USA recruited Scothon after a recommendation from its distribution partner, Microsoft, and specifically from Microsoft’s corporate territory manager for Upstate New York, Vanessa Mesler. Scothon said the pitch resonated for several reasons, including his lasting fondness for Western New York; his desire to work for a company with a substantive social mission; and his ultimate belief that Bak has genuine commercial potential.
“This is not about needing 100,000 customers to buy 100,000 devices,” he said. “This is about delivering on the needs of groups and then providing them the best price value, and marrying that with the other benefits Bak brings.”
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