Titan Industries CEO Joel Oblonsky Talks Leadership, Management Style & Expanded Brand Portfolio

Titan Industries is growing under CEO Joel Oblonsky, who came on board in May 2018. Since then, the company has expanded its brand profile. In addition to its owned and licensed brands, including Badgley Mischka, Jewel Badgley Mischka and Splendid, the company will be introducing Zac Zac Posen and Rampage for spring ’20.

The longtime shoe exec opens up how he’s approaching his leadership position as CEO of Titan.

After positions at Nine West, Nina and Ralph Lauren, what are your goals as CEO of Titan Industries?

“My No. 1 priority is to focus on the consumer. The way to attract shoppers today is to become more and more decentralized, and we have to have the right products at the right time in the right categories. We want to excite how she shops and enhance her experience through what it is she wants when she wants it. Our product assortment has been pretty category specific with special occasion and evening footwear [in Badgley Mischka], with the exception of Splendid, a smaller casual business. We need to diversify in a way that’s exciting, which is what our two new brands, Zac Zac Posen and Rampage, bring us.”

Has Titan changed its strategy since you’ve been on board?

“We are trying to be more focused in our assortment. We want to make the right products and not too many. We are evolving from the long-term traditional shoe business where you develop two times more items than is necessary. We want to be nimbler and more strategic with the products we put at retail. And culturally, this is more relaxed. The pace at Ralph Lauren is intense and I’m an intense guy, as many people know. Those things fit into my management style. In a smaller environment you have to be careful with that. And I had to learn. I certainly haven’t been perfect. I try to be self-aware as it relates to how much a small environment can take. I have to adjust myself. It’s a balance. With that said, we need a little more discipline and we are evolving that too. We have to not overdevelop and be careful with the money we spend in an expense structure so we have the working capital to acquire if we need to. You have to be sensible with your resources in order to grow, and that’s the No.1 goal.”

What have you learned from past positions that has helped with your new role?

“Operational disciplines. Expense managements. Holding everyone within our business accountable. Looking forward to success and growth. I’ve spent the lion’s share of my career at larger companies — most of them publicly held when I was there. That takes a different management style. When you work for a publicly traded company you have to be successful every quarter. That’s not necessarily the same dynamic here, but the strategies and tactics to be successful every day are important and that’s what we are instilling.”

How has working with Titan’s chairman, Joe Ouaknine, impacted you as a leader?

“He has a very specific point of view on most if not all subjects. He has allowed us to take his overarching direction and run with it. He’s also open to new ideas and that’s the beauty of it, and he has a desire to grow. We as a team have a good balance. I add a bit more structure and more discipline to day to day management and he is the big picture thinker who has been more successful than many people in our industry. His energy level is second to none.”

What is your biggest opportunity heading into 2020?

“Our existing businesses with Jewel Badgley Mischka, Badgley Mischka and Splendid are healthy. We want to keep that on its growth trajectory. The two new brands are a significant opportunity for us. It allows us to branch out and cover a broader base of consumers with a wide range of price points. When we are as category specific as we are in our two primary brands — dress, special occasion and bridal are all cyclical. When they are hot they are on fire, but then can down trend a little bit when the ornamented footwear gets less daytime and less denim friendly. It becomes an appointment purchase. We want to make sure we have product for every part of her life and to create a platform that excites the millennial and Gen Z consumer.”

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