Dealerscope 40 Under 40 Profiles: Ewell, Farber, Fassetta, Feiner, Feregrino, Gaitan, Hancock, Hori
Stephen Ewell, 36, Executive Director, CEA Foundation, Arlington, Va.
Twitter Handle: @sewell2
Background: Grew up in Gales Ferry, Ct.; now lives in Leesburg, Va.
Higher Education: MBA and Master of Science in Information and Telecommunications Systems (MSITS) from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.; Bachelor of Arts from Drew University Madison, N.J.
Years in Industry: 2
Brief Description of Role: As Executive Director of the CEA Foundation I am responsible for building the foundation, identifying and reviewing programs to support, and building a sustainable organization that can represent the incredible positive impact our industry can have on society and in the lives of consumers.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: Building the CEA Foundation to be able to highlight the positive impact of our industry and support innovative non-profits that are using our industry’s devices to help seniors and people with disabilities.
What I Like Best About My Job: I have the opportunity to work with the incredible innovators in our industry to give back and change the lives of seniors and people with disabilities.
What I Like Least About My Job: There are so many good causes, and I can only support a few.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Most of my free time recently has been involved with Crossfit and renovating an old dairy farm.
Last Book I Read: I just finished The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney and have started Influx by Daniel Suarez.
Scott Farber, 36
President and CEO, Hunt’s Photo and Video, Melrose, Mass.
Background: Grew up in Medford, Mass; now lives in Wakefield, Mass.
Higher Education: Bryant University – Smithfield, R.I.; B.A., Marketing.
Years in Industry: 21
Brief Description of Role: President, CEO, and Owner of Hunt’s Photo and Video. Oversee operation of 100 employees and eight retail stores.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: Took over role of President and CEO of Hunt’s Photo and Video, one of the nation’s premier photo retailers, in 2006. During this time, Hunt’s has not only grown its brick-and-mortar presence in New England, but also had been able to expand its online presence. My proudest achievement has been operating a successful brick-and-mortar CE retail chain that strives while other retailers continue to struggle. I attribute most of this to putting our customers first and offering a unique and unmatched customer shopping experience that gives people a reason to shop with Hunt’s.
Awards: 2012 Massachusetts Retailer of the Year; 2013 Digital Imaging Reporter E-Tailer of the Year; 2013 TWICE Magazine Top 100 CE Retailer; 2014 Dealerscope Top 101 CE Retailer.
What I Like Best About My Job: There is nothing more satisfying than working in an industry that you love. I am passionate, not only about the CE industry, but also the photo industry, and love being able to work with employees, customers and vendors who share this passion.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Spending time with my wife and children
Best Concert Ever Seen: The Who.
Who’s My Hero, and Why: My father, Jack Farber. Being able to grow up working with my father in this industry gave me the tools and experience to face many tough challenges and decisions with confidence and relative ease.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens.
Mike Fassetta, 30, Branch Manager at WAVE Electronics, San Antonio, Texas
Twitter Handle: @mikefassetta
Background: Grew up in Houston, Texas; now lives in San Antonio.
Years in Industry: 14
Brief Description of Role: Oversee day-to-day operations of WAVE SA.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: I feel my proudest achievement is not one thing but my career with WAVE as a whole. Having been with WAVE for almost 11 years, I’ve seen it all, from the growing pains to the celebrations.
What I Like Best About My Job: The people. It probably sounds cliché, but I genuinely like and care about the people I work with and my dealers. Having been in retail, I really love the opportunity to build relationships and help other businesses grow.
What I Like Least About My Job: Everyone has bad days, but there’s really not anything I don’t love about what I do.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Right now, it’s photography and Jeeping, which sort of go hand in hand. Going further back, I’ve always been a big baseball fan – though the Astros make that hard to admit lately.
Last Book I Read: The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
Favorite Movie: Right now, I’m more into TV. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and House of Cards are all so incredibly good. A good, serialized TV show has so much more time to develop characters and tell an interesting story. If I had to pick a movie that I could put on at any time and watch, it would have to be The Dark Knight. The cinematography is unbelievable. And as an added bonus, it makes for some great demo material.
Best Concert Ever Seen: I was young and it was with my parents, but Fleetwood Mac was impressive. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, but I do now that I’m older.
Who’s My Hero, and Why: Steve Jobs, no contest. I believe that his ability to basically see into the future will go down in the history books next to other great visionaries. To me, the most fascinating aspect of his life was his roller coaster ride from early fame and success to failure and utter embarrassment to his meteoric rise that turned Apple into the greatest American business story ever told. It surely wasn’t all his doing, but he had the vision, and he got people to follow him to greatness.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: Nothing’s really grabbed me in 2014, so I’ll go with something from 2013 that I use almost every day: the Sony RX1R. It singlehandedly sparked my renewed interest in photography. Given the shift to increasingly better camera phones, the RX1R probably seems silly to most, but make no mistake, it’s one of the few pieces of gear that I have a bond with. Perhaps it’s because it’s my main creative tool. Whatever the reason, that thing has captured my interest like few gadgets ever have.
If You Could Be Anyplace Else Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: In my Jeep with my family and my cameras, exploring the country.
Hagai Feiner, 37, CEO, Access Networks, Encino, Calif.
Twitter Handle: @hagaifeiner
Background: Grew up in Haifa, Israel; now lives in Los Angeles.
Higher Education: Santa Monica City College; A.A. in Business Administration and Computer Science.
Years in Industry: 12
Brief Description of Role: Manage day-to-day operations, share vision of our future and implement long-term brand strategy.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: Turning networking into a recognizable category in our industry, with an emphasis on enterprise-grade networking solutions.
What I Like Best About My Job: I love what we do and my incredible team.
What I Like Least About My Job: Amount of travel required.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Spending time with my two boys, Benji and Eli.
Last Book I Read: Again We Stand in a Row, by Yair Lapid
Favorite Movie: Back to the Future
Best Concert Ever Seen: St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the Troubadour in Los Angeles
Who’s My Hero, and Why: My grandfather, Joseph. He survived the holocaust and was released from the camps by the U.S. Army. He built a home and started a family against all odds. He taught me never to take anything for granted.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: My Meridian Sooloos system – I use it every day!
If You Could Be Anyplace Else Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: Costa Rica, zip lining!
Joe Feregrino, 30, Electronics Buyer (Home Audio and Portable Audio), Nebraska Furniture Mart, Omaha, Neb.
Background: Grew up in Omaha; now lives in Omaha.
Higher Education: Bellevue University, Bellevue, Neb., Bachelor of Science in Business Management.
Years in Industry: 8
Brief Description of Role: Responsible for increasing sales, profitability, and market share in the audio categories through product selection, negotiation, vendor relations, display, price, supply and promotions.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: I enjoy working with my vendor partners on designing and launching one-of-a-kind and first-to-market interactive displays that excite consumers about new items and technologies. I am proud of creating one of the largest headphone shopping experiences in brick and mortar, with unique displays and an assortment of over two hundred headphones. Our NFM buying team has also created world-class store-in-store environments with vendor partners like Bose, Sony, and most recently, Sonos.
Awards: Nebraska Furniture Mart President’s Award nomination (NFM’s highest honor); 1st place Best of Omaha (Home Audio) for five consecutive years; Dealerscope’s Retail Excellence Award; TWICE’s Retail Excellence Award.
What I Like Best About My Job: I like seeing new products at design and concept stage, giving feedback, and then seeing the final product come to my sales floor. I get great satisfaction knowing that I play a role in improving my customers’ lifestyles.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Concerts/music
Favorite Movie: Independence Day
Best Concert Ever Seen: Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake at Soldier Field
Who’s My Hero, and Why: My parents are my heroes. Hard work, determination, and respect are the values they raised me with. I would not be where I am at today without them.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: I am excited to see the many new wireless/streaming audio products come to market. This is one of the fastest-growing categories in the industry, and it will be fun to watch it grow over the coming years.
If You Could Be Anyplace Else Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: Relaxing on a beach, listening to music.
Laura Tomlin Gaitan, 39, Director of Administration, New Leaf Service Contracts, LLC, Irving, Texas
Twitter Handle: @landttomlin
Background: I was a “military brat,” spending time in Champaign, Ill. and Biloxi, Miss. Most of my time was spent in Lubbock, Texas. Now lives in Double Oak, Texas.
Higher Education: Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas; Bachelor of Arts, English
Years in Industry: 9
Brief Description of Role: As the Director of Administration, I have been responsible for all aspects of the service contract business. Since I was the first employee, I have done everything from system development to call-taking. Now that we have grown considerably, I am focused on system development and administration, all aspects of data management, client services, and new-account implementation for the company.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: I was involved in bringing New Leaf to market. As the first employee of the company, I touched all aspects of the company development. I participated in selecting the technology we use and was responsible for rolling it out. I hired and trained our employees. I’ve set company policy from HR to claims payments. You name it. I was a part of getting a new entrant in the service contract space started. My proudest moment was when we crossed our first million-dollar month in sales. We worked hard and have filled a critical spot in the market. Look for New Leaf to continue to grow.
What I Like Best About My Job: We are always at high speed. New Leaf’s environment is extremely fast-paced, always implementing new programs and looking for the next strategic advantage. I function best when I have a lot on my plate. I adore the management team I’ve built. They are family to me.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: I’m a bookworm. I love to read. Most of my time is spent with my family, traveling, at sporting events, and with 5th Grade homework! I’m also active with my church and with special projects at my children’s schools.
Last Book I Read: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
Best Concert Ever Seen: Aerosmith
Who’s My Hero, and Why: Mother Teresa of Calcutta – The inner strength, courage and faith of this 18-year-old village girl is a constant reminder to me that even the most unlikely candidates can change the world.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: The new Internet-ready televisions – the epitome of leisurely efficiency.
If You Could Be Anyplace Else Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: Exploring Italy.
Grant Hancock, 26, Marketing Manager/Buyer, Howard’s TV and Appliance, Southern California (Headquarters: La Habra, Calif.)
Background: Grew up in Villa Park, Calif.; now lives in Orange, Calif.
Higher Education: University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Bachelor of Science – Business Administration.
Years in Industry: 5.
Brief Description of Role: I’m responsible for maintaining and strengthening business relationships, negotiating manufacturer programs, purchasing and merchandising electronics and appliances, and helping plan marketing and advertising campaigns.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: Dealerscope’s 40 Under 40 (this year). Strengthening relationships with key vendors, and helping improve overall sales and profitability at Howard’s.
What I Like Best About My Job: I love how every day brings a new challenge or product that makes you bring past experience and education into play to determine the best course of action. I also enjoy creating, maintaining, and strengthening business relationships with our vendors and partners.
What I Like Least About My Job: Nothing.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Golfing
Last Book I Read: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
Favorite Movie: Top Gun
Best Concert Ever Seen: Eagles – History of the Eagles
Who’s My Hero, and Why: Howard Roach (Founder of Howard’s TV and Appliance). Howard Roach is my hero because he embodies the “American Dream” when it comes to success, but has always stayed humble and true to his roots. He grew up with almost nothing, started repairing radios door-to-door when he was 16 years old, and built Howard’s TV and Appliance into a very successful retailer. He treats everyone with respect and makes sure every employee and person in his life knows how important they are.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: 4K/UHD TVs
If You Could Be Anyplace Else Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: I would be in Hawaii, golfing and enjoying paradise.
Steven K. Hori, 35, Online Promotions Specialist/Merchant Analyst, Best Buy Secondary Markets, Irvine, Calif.
Twitter Handle: @bruinboy2k10
Background: Grew up in Encinitas, Calif.; now lives in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Higher Education: University of California, Los Angeles
Years in Industry: 13
Brief Description of Role: I manage online promotions and pricing for CowBoom.com, a trusted source for brand-name new, pre-owned and refurbished consumer electronics.
Main Industry Accomplishments and Why Important to Company/Industry; Proudest Achievement: Earlier in my career, I helped launch the Best Buy In-Store Trade-In program, determining product valuations and offering technical and operational support to the stores to carry out the Trade-In process on-site. Customers would bring in their gently used electronics, and instantly be given a Best Buy gift card, which they could use immediately to purchase anything Best Buy sells. This, in turn, has given new “life” to hundreds of thousands of electronic devices.
Awards: Five-Time Best Buy Store MVP (3 Departmental Honors, 2 All-Store Honors);
People’s Choice Award Winner for Best Buy Secondary Markets.
What I Like Best About My Job: What I enjoy most about what I do is the dynamic nature of consumer electronics and ecommerce. Every day presents me with a new set of challenges and objectives, and rarely do I do the same thing two days in a row. Additionally, the consumer electronics industry moves so rapidly that newer, better, greater things are always just a few weeks out. And perhaps most importantly, I really enjoy working in an industry that I believe in and love.
What I Like Least About My Job: As my mentor, Bob Biles, constantly points out, “ecommerce means that the store never closes.” The “’round-the-clock” nature of ecommerce means that there’s never a dull moment… not even at the earliest hours of the morning.
Favorite Pastime/Hobby: Bowling – I’m a proud United States Bowling Congress (USBC) member, currently carrying a career-high 185 average.
Last Book Read: A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle
Favorite Movie: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Best Concert Ever Seen: U2 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum… changed my life.
Who’s My Hero, and Why: I have two… my mother and father. Both of them encouraged me to find my own path, even if it was far away from where I thought I was headed or should head. Had I not had their support and guidance, I probably would not have ended up here.
Favorite CE Product of the Year: Tie between the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One
If You Could Be Anyplace Else Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: My main goal, since I was a young boy, has been to get to space… nowhere in particular, just outside of the Earth’s gravity. I would love to visit the International Space Station or the moon, but just outside of the Earth’s gravity would do just fine for me. Oh, and what would I be doing? Just floating.