The marketing executive delivered a 400-page report, packed with a level of detail that quickly overwhelmed his boss. Mr. Klein jokingly swore never to ask his marketing VP for a favor again.
That anecdote shows Mr. de Echevarria's grasp of marketing, and he's now applying that understanding as VP-marketing at Su-preme International Corp., a marketer of sports apparel.
FORMERLY AT REEBOK
Mr. de Echevarria moved into the new position in April, coming from Reebok International's Greg Norman division, where he also was VP-marketing.
"I'm a little bit anal with those sorts of things," Mr. de Echevarria, 38, said, referring to that report. "Calvin's genius is that he has this sixth sense to know the next thing America wants. Unfortunately, I don't have that, so I have to go the hard way."
Mr. de Echevarria insists marketing is the driving force behind a company's success or failure. His immersion into all aspects of marketing, from finances to retailer dealings, should help him at Su-preme, said Marty Staff, president of Calvin Klein Co.
While the two men worked together, Mr. de Echevarria revealed he was adept at apparel marketing, Mr. Staff said, and could identify a marketing problem, devise the tactical solution and execute the plans within the confines of a budget.
On the retail level, while launching Calvin Klein Co., Mr. de Echevarria would visit retailers, negotiate space for in-store shops, and plan merchandising and advertising, essentially running the day-to-day business and enabling Mr. Staff to focus on long-term strategy.
For a marketing executive, "He was on the cutting edge of a new way of thinking," Mr. Staff said.
BUILDING BRAND IDENTITY
The challenge at Supreme International will be to steer the company's portfolio of 40 apparel brands into retailers ranging from Macy's to Wal-Mart. Supreme was searching for a marketing executive to "manage those brands more pro-actively," Mr. de Echevarria said, and polish each brand's identity.
"If you look at any successful brands, the thing that they have in common is a very strong identity," Mr. de Echevarria said. "It is marketing's responsibility to make sure that this identity permeates all aspects of the organization, to have everybody speaking the same language and working on the same identity."
Like Calvin Klein or Greg Norman apparel, Supreme hopes to attach a strong consumer identity to its lines. Toward that end, Mr. de Echevarria will work with the Ad Store, New York, and a "multimillion-dollar" marketing budget.
Supreme wants to bolster existing brands even as it's on the lookout to expand its offerings. Last year, it acquired Munsingwear, and Supreme continues to search for new prospects, Mr. de Echevarria said.
Mr. de Echevarria said he is prepared to help usher in "explosive growth." Supreme's sales reached $159 million in 1996 and are projected to top $190 million this year.