Jay Zilinskas, Legacy Companies

Legacy people to watch 2021

The August 17 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 15th annual “People To Watch” in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, “People To Watch” represents a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld “People To Watch” are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Jay Zilinskas, Legacy Companies, Consumer Division, President

CREDENTIALS: Jay Zilinskas, a 30-year housewares industry veteran, assumed Legacy’s newly created consumer products leadership post in August 2019.

Zilinskas previously was president and CEO of cookware manufacturer and marketer Columbian Home Products. Prior to that, Zilinskas was COO at Buddy Valastro Entertainment, heading new business development, licensing and merchandising for the popular “Cake Boss” franchise.

Zilinskas previously spent 19 years with cookware and kitchenware developer, producer and marketer Meyer Corp., serving in a variety of senior leadership positions with responsibility for strategic planning, business expansion, product development, marketing, e-commerce, operations and profitability improvement. Zilinskas helped expand Meyer’s business and brand portfolio, increasing revenue and driving market share gains.

WHAT TO WATCH: Zilinskas is tasked with growing a stable of consumer appliance and housewares brands that through successive acquisitions by Legacy in recent years includes West Bend, Omega, Chef’s Choice, Avanti, Excalibur, Vinturi and Zeroll. He identified three primary objectives: stronger engagement with key retail customers in multiple channels; a recommitment to new product development across the company’s diverse brand offering; and the creation of “A-plus” content to support a widening base of retail e-commerce customers, including pure-play e-com operators and omnichannel retailers.

Noting stronger than initially expected sales during the COVID pandemic to meet the increased appetite for cooking and snacking by homebound consumers, Zilinskas said the pandemic forced an acceleration of the company’s e-commerce capabilities and responsiveness.

PERSPECTIVE: “We have been a story of acquisitions the past several years,” Zilinskas said. “First there are all of things you need to settle during the (post-acquisition) transitions: the systems, the people and other operational concerns. Now we can put the focus on the best way to grow these brands and bring them together in a cohesive, meaningful way. During the next 12 months, our retail customers and consumers will see a dramatically differing look from our brands.” —Peter Giannetti

2021 HomeWorld Business People To Watch (click on name for profile):

Janet Hayes, Crate & Barrel Holdings

Derek Miller, International Housewares Association

Samantha Rose, GIR (Get It Right)

Jay Zilinskas, Legacy Companies

Ed Vlacich, Lasko Holdings

Ben Gadbois, Corelle Brands

Joana McKenna, Walker Edison

Andreas Hansen, Plum

Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s

Chris McDonough, Corkcicle

Mark Tritton, Bed Bath & Beyond

Mike Evans, Bestar-Bush

Greg Cairo, Le Creuset of America

Pamela Stafford, Hestan Culinary

Bob Maricich, International Market Centers

Mark Rosenzweig and Mark Barrocas, SharkNinja