LATROBE, PA / CHARLOTTE, NC – With more than 200 digital commerce searches each year, is the leading contingency-based executive search firm serving the, Ad:Tech, and IR-500 communities. To opt-in to our popular “Ecommerce Job of the Day” email, click here. (Simply unsubscribe at the end of your job search.)

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We are working with Kennametal in their search for a Manager Digital and Customer Experience Design based in either Latrobe, PA -or- Charlotte, NC. This is a terrifically cool ecommerce job.

Kennametal manufactures, repairs, and recycles high-end tools and parts for the aerospace, earthworks, energy, transportation, engineering and machine tool industries. It’s big business. In addition to its value-added consulting services, Kennametal’s products include …

  • Blades, disks, fuel control systems, and landing gear for the aerospace industry
  • Synthetic fertilizers for agriculture
  • Camshafts, crankshafts, cylinder heads, rotors, calipers and differentials for automobiles
  • Roofing and abrasives for home construction
  • Asphalt, stabilization tools, and tunneling equipment for road construction
  • Woodworking tools
  • Machine tools, including machining centers and lathes
  • Tooling for machine tools, including indexable toolholders, collets, fixtures cutting tools
  • Inserts, tool bits, milling cutters, taps and dies, metal sawing cutters and tooling
  • Generating equipment for electric power plants
  • Wheels and axles for the railroads
  • … and MUCH more.

Kennametal creates customer value by providing custom solutions enabled by its own advanced materials sciences and application knowledge. The firm’s commitment to a sustainable environment provides additional value to its customers.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: In March of 2013, I was fortunate to place Patrick Theimer with Kennametal as its Director, Marketing Technology. Due to the number of moving parts with Kennametal’s digital business model, my job posting for that search clocked in at 1,748 words — roughly the length of a feature article in the Atlantic Monthly.

Without that post, there’s no way I’d have closed that search.

Candidates, before you read the rest of this post, you’d be well advised to check out the old post which spells out in plain English 1.) What Kennametal’s business is about; 2.) Who the business is for; 3.) How the firm makes money; and 4.) What a highly-functioning ecommerce competency means to the company — now and in the future.

Seriously. Take three minutes to check it out. You’ll be glad you did, especially if you are serious about applying for the role at hand.

Go on, now. Shoo! I’ll be here when you get back …

You’re back! I know, that took a while. But wasn’t it worth it? How’d you like my drawing of Kennametal’s customer valuation skew, which shows that 90% of Kennametal’s business exists with 40% of its customers …

Kennametal Skew

Here’s the deal:

The customers in the top two “quintiles” of Kennametal’s customer valuation skew represent 90% of the firm’s revenues. Believe it or not, there’s a massive opportunity to grow those relationships both through 1.) the continuity-like replenishment of replacement machine parts, and 2.) through the sale of customized 1:1 “product / service bundles.”

Naturally, the 30K accounts in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th quintiles represent an enormous growth opportunity for Kennametal as well. Those accounts are perfect for web-based marketing and customer service (which is why AmazonSupply has started targeting this space).

With so much complexity surrounding Kennametal’s business, the web is a Godsend. True, Kennametal’s core business will always be high-touch, but even its key accounts can benefit from online ordering on, checking account status, and more.

But here’s the tricky part: The number and types of internal and external Kennametal stakeholders using the site can present a morass of usability, navigational, merchandising, branding, marketing, supply chain, customer experience, and strategic issues that must be reconciled constantly as the business grows.

And that’s what this job is about.

As usual, my project kickoff call with my hiring manager lasted more than an hour. I was taking notes as fast as I could type. However, there’s a limit to what I’m going to share here for competitive reasons. Here’s all you need to know:

Kennametal has a front end digital catalog which is represented by Additionally, the firm has a backend commerce system which is really more of an electronic order entry portal. This job is about bringing those two together and creating a scalable, cost-effective, user-friendly architecture that allows for end-to-end customer visibility.

According to Patrick, “We need someone who can design a compelling digital experience in a way that combines our existing systems to drive sales and customer satisfaction.”

Solid Support Structure Already in Place

Last year, Kennametal did nearly $3 billion in sales, and online revenues were a significant percentage of that. You’d be surprised. This is a massive online business, and it’s only going to grow, both at home and abroad. There’s been no lack of investment in ebusiness, and Kennametal is using a best-in-class stack of technology applications including SAP, Microsoft, Steibo, and Adobe CQ.

Yet as good as these tools are, there are gaps between them. It will be your job to get these tools to work together in such a way that they support a seamless customer experience throughout every stage of the customer’s lifecycle.

Example: For brand-new customers, the tools should support a purchase path that takes the user from a Google search for “carbide tooling”; to Kennametal’s landing page; to the website; and all the way through the checkout process; and later to order management and customer service. For existing customers, ideally the tools would be integrated into the customer’s platforms and workflows.

It’s a lot to say grace over — but you’ll have the support.

There are a lot of brilliant people, both internally and externally, who are committed to the success of Kennametal’s ecommerce channel, which is massive, particularly by IR-500 standards. In fact, if were a direct to consumer business, the company would be in the IR top 25.

But the site could be gargantuan if Kennametal’s backend systems worked seamlessly. Remember, this business involves many different types of customers, in many different industries, using Kennametal’s product / service bundles in many different ways, and Kennametal is bringing to bear many different human and technical resources on their customers’ problems.

The research packet for this search includes detailed information about this role’s 100-day key initiatives, the required soft skills for success in the role, and a 9-point laundry list of hard skills you’ll need to crush it. These skills include social media and brand management — so don’t go getting any crazy ideas that this is an IT role.

It ain’t.

Not only is this job “doable,” the role will be highly reputation enhancing for the right person. There’s lots of important work to be done, and you’ll be working for an incredibly talented ecommerce executive whom I placed personally two years ago. The guy is a star, and I’d want my own child to work for him. You’ll be given very important projects to lead, and if you are successful, your fingerprints (not his) will be all over the results.

Everyone will know you’re a star (assuming, of course, you’re a star).

Anyway, hit me up if you’d like to know more about this position. And if Charlotte, NC is not your cup of tea, then by all means Google Latrobe and look at the housing values, the quality of the schools, the weather, and more. It’s a great town full of great people, and it’s only 45 minutes from Pittsburgh should you feel the need to see the Warhol Museum or check out a Steelers were Penguins game.

View Harry Joiner's LinkedIn profileView Harry Joiner’s profile

What you’ll do in a typical week …

  • Collaborate with IT, content management and product management teams and business stakeholders to deliver the requirements of an exceptional digital experience
  • Define and maintain an appropriate data integration and reporting architecture for digital properties and experiences
  • Create wireframes and user flows to achieve a Single Marketing View of user interaction as well as strategic requirements for channel management strategies
  • Analyze data regarding user needs, analytics and experience patterns to inform digital experience priorities and initiatives
  • Drive an innovation agenda, in part by remaining up-to-date on trends, rapidly changing technology and best practices in the digital arena
  • Develop and execute a complete end-to-end customer decision cycle assessment aligned to a digital tool set to determine where campaigns/initiatives are successful and leverage this information to optimize customer acquisition and conversions

What you’ll need to “win” in this role …

  • 10+ years in digital marketing
  • Proven track record of success in a lead role designing innovative digital marketing experiences that achieve business goals and meet user needs, working with both internal stakeholders and external agencies
  • Knowledge of core web, mobile, social and ecommerce technologies and platforms, including content management systems and analytics platforms, to serve as an expert liaison with internal and external teams in building out requirements and assessing technical design
  • Experience with Adobe CQ, SAP, and/or Stibo systems a plus
  • Strong abilities to evaluate design and creative execution for brand alignment and usability
  • Strong strategic and critical thinking skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Able to build strong relationships with internal and external partners to achieve goals effectively
  • Expertise in digital experience design and development for the rapidly evolving B2B space preferred”


PS – If you’re thinking about changing jobs this year (through us or anyone else), you might want to check out this post on why even TOP candidates get rejected.

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