MAHER, KANAL FORM SEARCH FIRM
Byline: David Moin
NEW YORK — A new search firm, Maher/Kanal Associates, has been formed with a mission to help retail and fashion firms fill executive slots up and down the corporate ladder.
David Kanal and Bill Maher are partners in the new business, which is located 185 Madison Avenue, near 34th Street. Previously, the partners were with TMP Worldwide executive search.
“We see a niche in the fashion industry for a boutique search business that’s more flexible,” said Maher. “We’re not bound by ‘off-limit’ restrictions that major search firms have to deal with.” Generally, at big search firms, he said, “If you have 25 partners developing relationships with different companies, you can’t go into those companies to recruit. We work strictly on a retainer basis or an assignment basis, and give [clients] one-year off-limits.”
Maher cited G.H. Bass, Coats North America, Carnegie Hall and Salant as current clients.
In addition, “Many large search firms are raising the bar on their minimum fees,” for placing high-level executives, he said. “Years ago, it was $30,000. Then it became $35,000 and now it’s over $50,000. We want to be able to serve a client at every need of management — to be a one-stop shop. Maybe do the ceo search and several levels beneath that too. If we were a major search firm, we would be prevented from doing all that because of minimum fee policies.”
According to Kanal, the talent pool is growing.
“With businesses consolidating on their own, and with mergers and acquisitions, there will be people cut loose.”
“Within our firm, only Bill and I will handle the search,” he added. “We have researchers and a consultant who also handle searches at certain levels. But we will certainly be involved in every search in the company — interviewing, researching, screening to help identify candidates.”
Kanal said he spent 10 years as a public school teacher and school psychologist before joining Macy’s in 1979 in housewares merchandising and eventually shifting to Macy’s human resources, in executive development, recruitment and labor relations. He was recruited to a search firm in 1983 called Business Careers, which closed in 1989; joined Werner International, another search firm, and in 1993, joined Johnson, Smith & Knisely search firm, which was sold to TMP in 1998.
Maher started his career at Allied Maintenance in labor relations, joined GAF Corp. managing industrial relations, then held similar senior-level positions at such conglomerates as Gulf & Western and Kayser Roth. Eventually, he joined the McCabe & Schwartz search business, and later Johnson Smith Knisely, where he met Kanal.