Then & Now: CSA veteran Scott Crossett transitions to CEO role

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 449 views 

Editor’s Note: The following story appeared in the Nov. 7 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. “Then & Now” is a profile of a past member of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class.

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Corporate recruiter Scott Crossett has 15 years of experience in the business. That knowledge has prepared him for the new leadership role he now holds at Cameron Smith & Associates (CSA) in Rogers.

The company founder made sure of it.

Smith, who launched his eponymous firm nearly 30 years ago in Northwest Arkansas, hired Crossett in 2007. He was promoted to partner five years later and received CSA’s Outstanding Performance Award in 2014. The following year, the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal recognized Crossett as a Forty Under 40 honoree.

In January 2021, Smith made the succession of the company’s operational leadership a top priority when he appointed Crossett to be the firm’s CEO in waiting.

That transition arrived earlier this year. Smith died July 18 at Mercy Hospital in Rogers due to complications from his battle with throat cancer. He was 71.

Smith had a high profile in Northwest Arkansas as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, change-maker and dedicated community leader. Crossett said he especially had a heart for people and their success.

In a recent interview, Crossett said that before Smith died, he imparted his expectations — to continue that legacy through the firm’s work.

“We are focusing internally on our company and our people, and then down the road, there will be a time to focus on accelerated growth and other things,” he said.

Crossett, 44, said he is comfortable with his new executive responsibilities, but it’s been a difficult transition from a personal standpoint. The company has about 30 employees, many of whom have worked at CSA for over a decade.

That includes Monica Smith, the firm’s chief financial officer, who helped her husband launch the firm in 1994.

“It’s been emotional,” Crossett said. “It’s tough getting used to Cameron not being there. We’re trying to find the right pace. We’ve got a veteran team, and we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’re trying to continue.”

CSA is one of the country’s most prominent consumer packaged goods (CPG) search firms and fills several hundred high-paying jobs yearly. The company is perhaps best known for building customer teams for hundreds of Walmart supplier offices in Northwest Arkansas. Still, it works for other supplier teams — and even some retailers — across the country.

“It’s the same type of business,” Crossett said. “If Campbell Soup [is sold] at Walmart, they’re also [sold] at Kroger.”

CPG is the firm’s niche, but CSA is a preferred agency for specialty searches for executives in construction management, healthcare or financial services.

“It’s not how we market ourselves, but if it’s a search we feel strongly about, we can do it,” Crossett said.

Aside from his deep connections within Walmart’s supplier community, Crossett has proven himself a successful recruiter in many mass retail hubs across the country.

“I love being able to help people advance their careers and consult with them about how to grow themselves and what to consider as they evaluate their next role,” he said. “And I like working with companies to find people who are not just capable of doing the job but will be the best of the best and take them to the next level. It’s exciting to see when we place somebody who has a huge impact.”

Crossett, who received a financial management degree from the University of Arkansas in 2001, is a self-described “finance nut” and CNBC junkie. He was a stockbroker working in Rogers before working for CSA, and he still enjoys keeping a pulse on the industry.

It goes with the territory of when you work in the human capital business.

“The market is good right now. But by February or March next year, I think a lot of discretionary spending is going to slow, and unemployment rates will start to creep up,” he said. “So, we’re preparing for that.”

Crossett lives with his wife and 9-year-old daughter in Bentonville. He also sits on the board of directors of the Razorback “A” Club, an organization composed of those who lettered at the UA in men’s and women’s athletics. Crossett’s .356 average and 60 hits led the Razorback baseball team in his junior season of 2000.