Steve Durkee sits down with AVNation a few hours into his new tenure to outline his vision for the company
Steve Durkee is looking relaxed a few hours into his first day as Legrand AV’s President. It is a tough, and some would argue, awkward time for such a transition, but Durkee, who takes over from previous president Scott Gill, is bouyant and hopeful as he quickly takes AVNation’s Tim Albright through his 16 years with the company — a history that begins in 2004 when he and Gill were hired two weeks apart and the company was known only as Chief Manufacturing.
We really worked together managing our business — evolving it from Chief to Dalite and Vaddio,” Durkee says of his time working alongside Gill. “Scott decided early this year that is was the right time for his next chapter and phase, and so we start talking about this before anyone could envision COVID impact and all of things that were going to happen — and started a process that made for a somewhat interesting transition time period. We started working through that transition at that point, but since we’ve been working alongside each other and working with each other for so long, you can argue that we’ve been working on a transition for a number of years.”
In fact, the transition began 12 weeks ago, at the beginning of what evolve into the global pandemic, a development that Durkee and the team had to work through and which he now sees as both challenging — having the bandwidth as a company as everyone’s working structure has change with COVID-19 and along with it increased activity — and aiding in the change of leadership.
“There is a piece of it that is actually helpful, which is: There is a lot more daily, weekly communication to all of our associates around the world and being able to plug into that very quickly helps you plug into your job quickly,” Durkee explains.
Durkee has risen through the ranks of a company that has had strong leadership over the decades, many of whom have been his peers — including Laurie Englert and Gill — over his 16 years at the company.
“We have a shared passion for our business and the people who built the foundation, the innovation, customer service,” Durkee says. “We would probably say a lot of the same things about what makes Legrand AV tick and what’s been consistent with our culture and brands. From a day-to-day style perspective, the primary difference is what we’ve been focused on for that time period.”
Durkee and Gill took a divide-and-conquer approach to their management goals, with Durkee zeroing in on the customer-facing and innovation side of the commercial AV market while Gill oversaw operational and the overall ownership structure of Legrand’s residential AV business.
“I like to look at changes like this as an opportunity to rethink some of the things we do,” Durkee says. “It won’t necessarily be a difference in style, but there are some opportunities to bring some further alignment [across brands].”
Where will Durkee leave his mark? Crediting Gill with building an incredible foundation that includes strengthening the brands and the employees of the company, Durkee sees this time and his role as an opportunity to deliver significantly more value by completely integrating Legrand AV’s brands and while continuing to create new solutions.
“That may sound a little cliché, but I really believe in our ability to deliver solutions and make that process and that value we add better for our customers,” Durkee says. “That’s what I see ahead for us for the next few years, being able to deliver on that promise.”