Management Secrets of Top Westchester CEOs: Matthew M. Mannelly, CEO of Prestige Brands in Irvington

“I hate consensus,” declares Matthew M. Mannelly, 54, CEO of Prestige Brands. “We’re not here to build consensus. If we build consensus, it will take us forever.”

The impatient CEO of the fast-growing consumer products company says he prefers collaboration. “When you collaborate,” he explains, “you gather the points of view of everyone, then whoever is the right decision maker makes the decision. Get the right people collaborating, and you’ll come up with the right answer.”

There have been plenty of right answers for Prestige since Mannelly came on board in 2009. Sales that year were under $300 million. After divesting a few lagging products, repositioning others, and making some substantial acquisitions, sales for the 2013 fiscal year are projected to exceed $600 million from products like Chloraseptic, Compound W, Efferdent, PediaCare, Dramamine, and newly acquired brands like Beano, Ecotrin, Tagamet, and Sominex. The company outsources manufacturing, but does all product development, marketing, and sales in-house with a 100-person staff (soon to be larger) in Irvington. “We have kind of a plug-and-play model when we bring a brand into the company,” Mannelly says. “That’s not to say we don’t learn something new with every acquisition. Once you think you know everything, you should quit.”

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Mannelly also condemns the b-school dogma that says mature brands should not be promoted, just milked for cash. “There is always a new, better, or different way to grow your business,” he says. “For a brand like Chloraseptic, you can introduce a new flavor, a new bottle, or a new dispenser. You take your cues from the consumer on how to improve the brand.”

As this article was going to press, Mannelly faced an unexpected challenge. Genomma Lab Internacional, based in Mexico, made an unsolicited takeover offer for Prestige, which, in turn, promptly adopted a poison pill defense while its board considers its options. Stay tuned.

 

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