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Mike Vitelli, Best Buy’s Vice President of Consumer Electronics and Product Management

Spreading a Strong Work Ethic

January 2008 By Jeff O’Heir
Fresh out of college, as an up-and-coming accounting at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mike Vitelli understood the long hours that often stretched into Saturday and Sunday were part of the job. His family didn’t.

“When my grandfather found out I was working weekends without getting paid overtime he said to my father, ‘What are you teaching that kid,’” Vitelli remembered, adding that the men on that side of the family were all loyal members of the Bricklayers Union. “They thought I was a little nutty.”

Well, those guys could only blame themselves. They established in Vitelli a strong work ethic that he still carries with him today as Best Buy’s vice president of consumer electronics and product management. Following a distinguished 23-year career at Sony, Vitelli joined Best Buy about three years ago and now has an active role in helping the retailer maintain its status as one of the strongest businesses in the industry.

That pride in hard work started on the streets of Canarsie, Brooklyn, when Vitelli’s grandfather would point out the buildings he, his brothers and his sons had built. “The work ethic that my grandparents and parents had was prevalent; but they always had a lot of fun,” said Vitelli, who went on to study accounting at Brooklyn College, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.

To read Vitelli’s Best Buy bio you’d think he’s taken that work ethic a little too far: “He is responsible for establishing the vision, strategy and goals for customer solutions and financial performance in the home entertainment and appliance category.” Vitelli has bared the burden well, considering that home theater sales played a large role in contributing to double-digit revenue and earnings growth during Best Buy’s second quarter of 2007.

One of his big initiatives after joining the company was to help roll out the Magnolia Home Theater concepts throughout Best Buy, starting with a few and eventually reaching more than 300 locations. With Vitelli’s input, Best Buy formed HEET (Home Entertainment Experience Transformation) to execute the strategy. “We realized we had to transform the space outside of the Magnolia space; we had to transform the other parts of the store,” he said.

Under the initiative, Best Buy created a cross-functional team from every division to integrate the best design and sales practices from the Magnolia concepts within the general video and audio departments of the overall store . “Since the rollout we’ve been able to gain the most flat-panel share in the U.S.,” he said.
 

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