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We are working with Plow and Hearth in their search for a Senior Web Designer in Madison, VA. This is a hands-on design position that requires substantial contribution to tasks and projects on a daily basis, while also serving as the web design team manager.


“Don’t spend your time on anything your customers don’t perceive to be of value.” -Michael Basch

How do you balance the drive for growth with building a business that is environmentally sustainable? There’s a great article in the Winter 2012 MITSloan Management Review. Called “Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point.” The article points out that increasingly, sustainability is on management’s agenda. Not all companies have found ways to profit outright from their sustainability efforts, but those that have share some interesting characteristics.

Obviously, a sustainability mentality causes companies to use their resources much more efficiently, which tends to lower cost of goods sold while reducing the capital requirements of the business. Additionally, sustainable business practices improves collaboration between companies, their suppliers, and internal business units. Increasingly consumers everywhere find sustainability to be of value, especially emotionally. Which makes sustainability good for a company’s brand, and inevitably it pays dividends in terms of customer loyalty and even pricing power.

Located just outside of Charlottesville Virginia and with postcard views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, multichannel retailer Plow and Hearth is building a portfolio of brands that are positioned well for growth as consumers demand both “great product” and “corporate responsibility.”

While Plow and Hearth has expanded well beyond its initial “Hippy Hardware Store” image, the brand stayed true to its heritage of providing consumers with “garden easy” solutions and “self-sufficient lifestyle” products. In 1991 and before green became hip, Plow and Hearth began a relationship with the Virginia Department of Forestry where they planted two seedlings for every tree used to create their catalogs. Their tree programs expanded and recently the company announced that they have planted over 3MM seedlings.

Plow and Hearth’s President, John Haydock recently joined from Burt’s Bees (one of the top “green” brands in the world), where he was the SVP of Global Marketing. Looking to continue the pursuit of more sustainable business practices, John recently formed an employee sustainability team to re-invigorate the company’s focus on reducing waste. They also recently launched a “clean water awareness program” with American Rivers. Creating a sustainable business is a long/hard journey that involves the usual trade-offs of “good / cheap / fast” (pick any two you like).

These folks seem up for the task.

Recent debates have focused on reducing energy consumption with new eco-friendly lighting. Longer term efforts will focus on further waste reduction in areas like secondary packaging. John knows that high quality candidates are looking to make a difference. Here is your chance if you are up for the fight and share the company’s values.

Don’t let the name fool you.

Plow and Hearth, LLC actually consists of many consumer brands. In the Home Division, Wind and Weather and Problem Solvers accompany the Plow and Hearth Brand. In the Children’s Division, Hearthsong and Magic Cabin are dedicated to providing high quality toys…toys you will actually feel good about giving. Not the type of toys that require lots of batteries and that encourage children to “tune out.” Instead, these brands sell toys that inspire open, social, and creative play.

Okay, so the company participates in some fun categories and promotes a relaxed lifestyle. But, don’t let their categories fool you. This is an intense, sophisticated business. The company is under new ownership. The owners are investing big bucks in new infrastructure and are looking to grow.

The challenge.

Plow and Hearth owns two facilities including a 300,000 sq. ft. distribution center/headquarters in Madison, Virginia and a 200,000 sq. ft distribution center in Ohio. They are ramping up their web efforts and digital team. Most of the firm’s business occurs in Q4, and they are pushing hard for the development of counter seasonal business opportunities. Currently, the company gets 1.6 million monthly uniques across all sites, and the conversion rates are outstanding. The company is working hard to improve average order values, which is placing a premium on the web design function.

About the job:

The Senior Web Designer will lead the development of the company’s online creative efforts, providing best-in-class vision and execution in interactive design, usability and technology. The operative word here is “lead.” The company is looking to strengthen best practices leadership related to user experience and customer experience. The current team is very good, but management seeks “best in class” capability.

Very quickly, the new hire will be expected to … LISTEN … and understand the company’s brands in terms of their creative presentation across multiple websites. Next, the new hire would be expected to … LISTEN … and recommend opportunities to take the firm’s websites and emails to the next level. Please: Don’t run out of your tent and fall on your spear … LISTEN.

Plow and Hearth is actively improving its web design and development process and wants a new hire who would enjoy being part of that building effort. And it wouldn’t hurt if the new hire had the ability to look at the company’s source code and be inspired to make it better.

Your resilience and tolerance will come in handy. We need someone who can work with the existing team, tools, and processes – yet improve them in an un-abrasive way. You’ll need great communication skills, both verbal and written, to drive the department’s agenda across functions and up-and-down the organization in a way that ensures good buy-in.

A passion for technology won’t hurt either: We don’t expect you to be a great coder, but you do have to appreciate ecommerce and technology and possess an active and playful imagination about how Plow and Hearth can improve customer intimacy.

Having said all that, we don’t want a technology geek who cannot make compromises. We want someone who can collaborate and who sees technology as a “means to an end,” not an end unto itself. Now more than ever, Plow and Hearth values its culture as well as its customers. With a more aggressive desire for growth balanced with a sustainability agenda, the company’s best days are ahead of it.

Your strong aesthetic and your great sense of graphics, color, white space, usability, functionality, and navigation must fully support the brand’s rediscovered sense of purpose and optimism.

Can you handle that? If so, please apply below.

Please Tweet this job, and you’ll be automatically entered into our monthly drawing. Just do it and see what happens: 2010 prizes included $100 Amazon gift certs, Dean & Deluca steaks, and Keurig coffee machines …

Position Overview:

The Senior Web Designer will lead the development of Madison Brands’ online creative efforts, providing best-in-class vision and execution in interactive design, usability and technology.

The right candidate will have the energy to inspire, the experience to lead, and the ability to produce excellent creative results. S/he will have a passion for usability and design, and will take a proactive role in improving the user experience, brand equities, and visual design standards for all of the ecommerce efforts.

The right candidate will partner with the Creative, Marketing and Merchandising departments to be sure the online efforts fall in line with brand guidelines across channels (catalog, web, retail), while actively recommending ways to leverage the strengths and unique capabilities of the web

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Personally contributes to the output of the web design group — creating web graphics, pages, emails, wireframes and prototypes to optimize branding, usability and conversion
  • Demonstrates strong visual aesthetic skills in color, typography, graphics, and interactive design
  • Confirms all team deliverables meet or exceed business objectives, brand guidelines and creative briefs
  • Understands ecommerce, web architecture and internet technologies and stays abreast of changes which could advance efforts and improve customer experiences
  • Develops technical guidelines for the web design team to most effectively create and deliver graphics to web developers
  • Supports execution of qualitative and quantitative testing strategies for all brands to optimize design and usability
  • Manages and develops the web design staff
  • Identifies, manages and prioritizes resources on team based on evolving and shifting business priorities

Position Requirements:

  • 4 year degree in relevant field or equivalent work experience
  • 3-5 years experience in internet marketing and/or ecommerce
  • Excellent design and conceptual experience
  • Strong collaboration and communication skills
  • Proficiency in Web Design & Technology, Flows, & UI Design
  • Excellent knowledge of Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, HTML and CSS
  • Experience working closely with cross-functional teams
  • Ability to work well as a team player but demonstrates skills as a leader
  • Works well under pressure and with tight deadlines

Applications for this position are being coordinated by Harry Joiner. To apply, CLICK HERE Candidates, please be sure to email Harry Joiner for a packet of market research and company / competitive intel that will differentiate you in your candidacy. Due to the intensely competitive nature of this search, thorough preparation for these interviews with this proprietary material is strongly recommended.

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