27 Oct Paul Shain to retire as Senior VP at former CDW Berbee, will seek another CEO post
Madison, Wis. – Paul Shain, who has served as senior vice president of Advanced Technology, the former CDW Berbee for the past two years, told WTN that he would retire from that post at the end of October.
Shain, who was a top executive of the former Berbee Information Networks for eight years prior to its acquisition by CDW Corp., said he would take some time to reflect, and he confirmed his interest in again being a chief executive.
Shain said the integration of the two companies is going well, including in the areas of sales, marketing strategy, and business systems. “I think we accomplished pretty much everything we set out to do at the time of sale of Berbee to CDW, so I think it’s a natural time for me to reflect on what I do best and what would be the most fun for me to do at this stage of my career,” he said.
Shain, who was elevated from president to CEO of Berbee in 2005 when founder Jim Berbee stepped down as chief executive, added that he has no idea what that next endeavor is.
Chasing a dream job
CDW, an $8 billion-a-year information technology product and services provider based in Vernon Hills, Ill., acquired the stock of the former Berbee Information Networks Corp. for $175 million in September of 2006. CDW, which ranks 342nd on the Fortune 500, provides technology solutions for business, government, and education. The company employs about 6,300 people.
Shain became a vice president in the new CDW Berbee organization, which was quietly renamed Advanced Technology this past summer. “After eight years of running a company, my dream job is to get back into the CEO role,” he said. “After the sale to CDW, that wrapped up my responsibilities as CEO of Berbee. That was, for me, part of the timing aspect of this.”
At the time of the CDW acquisition, Berbee had evolved into more of a business problem solver than a technology seller, providing off-site data hosting for clients and serving as a technology reseller for the likes of Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft. The company had clients in the corporate, healthcare, and education realms; prior to its acquisition by CDW, Berbee itself had integrated three acquired companies.
Asked whether it mattered what industry his new CEO role comes in, Shain said it’s more about having a business model like the one at Berbee. With an initial investment of $15,000, the company grew from Jim Berbee’s basement and evolved into a $400 million company at the time of its sale to CDW. Shain said the Berbee model is one of a successful company that was working with customers to deploy new technology and was able to attract quality talent in a high-growth industry.
“I want to find something with those same dynamics,” he said.
As for his replacement at Advanced Technology, Shain said there might not be a replacement for the senior VP position, and the company may instead establish a combination of different roles and functions. He said Berbee’s legacy employees would continue to play important roles in CDW Berbee with an equal or greater amount of responsibility.
“You`re looking at a different organizational structure because Berbee, as a stand-alone business, does not exist anymore,” Shain noted. “This may give the people at CDW a chance to revisit the entire organizational structure.”
Clark Walter, a spokesman for CDW, confirmed what Shain said, noting that a final decision on assigning Shain’s responsibilities still is being worked out.
“Everybody at CDW thanks Paul for his leadership and for his vision for Advanced Technology’s role at CDW,” Walter added.
At the time of the acquisition, John Edwardson, chief executive for CDW, said the Illinois firm wanted to grow Berbee into a $1 billion annual company. Walter said CDW, now a privately held company, remains 100 percent committed to expanding Advanced Technology’s capabilities.
Citing friends and the quality of life in Madison, Shain said he would remain here. During his tenure, he is proudest of the Wisconsin business success story that Berbee became.
“I think we built just a phenomenal company with a unique business model,” he said, “and we never forgot to have a little fun along the way. Berbee has got to go down as one of the most professionally gratifying experiences I’ve ever known.”