"If you had to credit one person, it would be Steve," says one Clairol insider. "When Steve first arrived it was a pretty dysfunctional company, not a marketing-driven company. He put in place a focus and structure. He had spent many years at General Foods and advertising/marketing is his love."
After years of close to no growth, Clairol, under Mr. Sadove's watch, got back on track with product introductions like Natural Instincts, a gentle natural ingredient-based hair color, and effective restagings of existing brands such as Nice 'N Easy with "Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Ultress with model Linda Evangelista.
Those plans, along with international efforts, are credited with helping to push worldwide sales for Clairol, the hair coloring and haircare division of Bristol-Myers Squibb, past the $1 billion mark.
These achievements forced a strong response from L'Oreal, now at a 35.8% share and growing with a 12.9% increase in sales for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 25, according to Information Resources Inc. L'Oreal spent $20 million to restage Excellence, knocking back Clairol's actual share 2.3 points to 46.6%.
Still, under Mr. Sadove, morale at Clairol remains intact and there has been no panic.
"He made over the company; not just the products, the organization," says one executive close to the company.