Michael Polk, Newell Brands

homeworld players polkThe August 15 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 11th Annual “Players,” people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent 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 Players 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.

Michael Polk, Newell Brands, CEO

PLAYER’S CREDENTIALS: With Newell’s acquisition of Jarden Corp. now complete, Newell Brands CEO Michael Polk sits atop one of the largest companies in the consumer goods segment with more than $16 billion in annual sales. In 2011, he joined then-Newell Rubbermaid as president and CEO, coming from Unilever where he was president of global foods, home and personal care. Polk has also held senior executive positions at Kraft Foods and with Procter & Gamble.

WHAT TO WATCH: Polk is now in charge of a host of well-known housewares brands across multiple categories. Newell’s portfolio, including Rubbermaid, Calphalon and Contigo, was married to brands from Jarden such as Mr. Coffee, Food Saver, Crock-Pot, Health o Meter and Bionaire to name a few. How Polk manages and leverages this brand power with key retailers and maintains and possibly grows shelf space with key customers will be closely watched by many in the housewares industry. Some industry insiders feel this brand power across multiple categories will be an asset for Newell. Others wondered if retailers would allow one company to control a large percentage of their shelf space.

In a recent investor conference call, Polk said the creation of Newell Brands doubles the company’s scale in key retailers and geographies that he feels will allow for strong growth. Polk is focused on making the company leaner by focusing investments on those businesses with the greatest potential. Over the next three to four years, he said the company would look to unlock at least $500 million in cost synergies and $300 million in savings through its Project Renewal initiative.

PERSPECTIVE: How Polk drives the company and which brands receive the most attention from a development standpoint will be interesting to watch. Polk said he expects the company over the next two to three years to exit product lines that account for between $250 million and $300 million in revenue. Polk said he was expecting to lock into the company’s portfolio prioritization choices. “We’ll invest heavily on the businesses with the greatest potential,” said Polk.

2017 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):