Cameron Smith and his namesake recruiting firm have been luring suppliers to Bentonville since 1992. But his most recent venture is a satellite expansion into Seattle around the growing supplier base for both Costco and Amazon, both headquartered there.
Smith recruited Jean Srour, a former officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc,. to head up the Seattle expansion and Cameron Smith & Associates Costco team.
“It’s a great opportunity to look for people who can add value to hundreds of companies that supply Costco and Amazon – both growing retailers with quite different platforms,” Srour said.
Smith said just as 1,200 or so suppliers have opened offices within a 25-mile radius of Wal-Mart’s Bentonville headquarters, there has been a similar supplier boom congregate around Seattle.
“We have been building supplier teams near Costco’s headquarters for five years,” Smith said. “Srour is the right fit to establish a local office there given her 30 years of experience in the retail industry.”
Costco is the third largest retailer in the U.S. with 605 warehouse stores, including 438 in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 82 in Canada, 32 in Mexico, 22 in the United Kingdom, 13 in Japan, 8 in Taiwan, 7 in Korea, and 3 in Australia. The wholesale club is also active in electronic commerce businesses through its websites, costco.com in the United States and costco.ca in Canada.
Srour recently retired from Wal-Mart after nine years work as an officer and vice president in the retail giant’s home and apparel merchandising division. She spent a bulk of her career in New York working in the apparel merchandising industry and early on she owned her own apparel business, in addition to working with Liz Claiborne.
Patti Edwards, chief investment officer for Trutina Financial in Bellevue, Wash., has covered Costco and other retailers in that area for more than nine years. Edwards says aside from Costco and Amazon, retailers Nordstrom and Blue Nile are also based in the region. Starbucks is also based in the Seattle metro area , as are tech-based companies like Expedia, Adobe and Microsoft.
“Costco only has room for 4,500 SKU’s (unique products) at a time, and they are constantly changing their inventory and suppliers,” Edwards said. “Costco’s vendor base doesn’t appear to be as visible the supplier network in Bentonville at this point. But I can see where Amazon suppliers would want to be near their corporate hub.”
The Seattle metro, with a population of more than 3.5 million, is the 15th largest U.S. metro area. By comparison, the Northwest Arkansas metro has a population of more than 460,000, which is expected to reach almost 509,000 by 2015.
Corporate recruitment will be somewhat a change of pace for Srour but she’s anxious to get started.
“People are the best part of any company. Throughout my career I have recruited and developed individuals to maximize their capabilities and realize their goals. Having worked in both small and large corporations, I can readily understand the requirements to build a successful supplier organization. And I have been a recruit myself, which should give me additional perspective,” Srour said.
On a personal note, Srour is also anxious to move near her son and daughter-in-law who live in the Seattle area.
She will move to Issaquah, Wash., near Costco headquarter,s but is equally excited about all of the recruitment opportunities in the greater Seattle region.
The new Seattle office will be the third office site for Cameron Smith & Associates. Smith said he opened a recruitment office in Minneapolis about nine years ago near the home offices of Target and Best Buy.