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Howard Gross Advisors

HGA is a full service executive search and selection firm. Our mandate is to provide our clients with leaders who drive change and effect positive results. Our approach to each engagement is to function as Management's Partner by attentively managing each aspect of the talent acquisition process starting with gaining an understanding of our client's business, organization structure, culture, the mission at hand, and specifically what critical experience, credentials, and responsibilities are required to ensure the success of the executive hired.

To ensure regular and informed communications, we work very closely with our clients during each phase of a search including candidate identification, assessment, recruitment, referencing, offer preparation / negotiations, relocation and on boarding. Our search process is individually customized to address each client's specific needs so that optimum efficiency and the desired results are achieved.

Practice Focus:


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  • Retail
  • Wholesale
  • Manufacturing
  • eCommerce
  • Consumer Package Goods


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  • Museums
  • Historic Sites
  • Education
  • Environment


With varied and deep industry management background coupled with substantial corporate and executive search consulting experience, the HGA team has successfully represented a broad range of clients including large and mid-sized corporations, start-ups, entrepreneurial and underperforming businesses and non-profit organizations. We therefore excel at presenting our clients with battle tested executives who have demonstrated an ability to quickly integrate and make game changing strategic and operational contributions.

Click any of the functions to the rightabove for examples of searches performed


Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Directors
  • Committee Heads

General Management

Examples of Searches Performed:

  • CEO
  • President
  • COO
  • CAO
  • Executive Director
  • Executive Vice President


Examples of Searches Performed:

  • CFO
  • Controller
  • Treasurer
  • Head of Accounting
  • Director of Credit
  • Director of Audit
  • Director of Loss Prevention

Information Technology

Examples of Searches Performed:

  • CIO
  • CTO
  • Head of Systems
  • Head of Applications Development


Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Head of Sales
  • Regional VPs


Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Chief Merchandising Officer
  • General Merchandise Manager
  • Divisional Merchandise Manager

Product Development

Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Design Director
  • Head of Sourcing
  • Head of Production
  • Creative Director


Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Head of Communications
  • Head of Public Relations


Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Head of Supply Chain
  • Head of Distribution

Store Operations

Examples of Searches Performed:

  • Head of Stores
  • Regional Director
  • District Manager

Human Resources

Examples of Searches Performed:

  • CHRO
  • Head of Talent Acquisition
  • Head of Training & Development
  • Head of Employee Benefits
  • Head of Compensation

Howard J. Gross

Howard Gross is a broadly experienced executive search and selection consultant whose background includes senior management roles in both globally operated and boutique firms. Howard specializes in representing Retail, Wholesale, Manufacturing and Direct Marketing (digital commerce and catalog) companies and Non-Profit organizations. In addition to Howard's extensive executive search experience, he has held senior management positions with the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Fields, Kohl's etc., Bonwit Teller and May Department Stores.

Typical searches performed by Howard are for CEOs, COOs and other senior leadership executives who are responsible for various functional verticals including merchandising, product development, marketing, advertising, sales, store operations, finance, supply chain, human resources and other key support functions. His clients include entrepreneurial, mid-size, large corporations and Non-Profit organizations.

The breadth of Howard's executive search and operating company experience provides him with extensive strategic and operational insights and perspective regarding organizational structure, development and compensation.

Howard earned his BS degree in Psychology / Business and his MS degree in Psychology. He is an active Non-Profit Director and supports various philanthropic organizations.

Richard J. Darlington

Rick Darlington is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Darlington & Company, Inc. and the Chairman of Howard Gross Advisors. He directs strategy for all Darlington companies while leading the CEO Advisors Practice and the Diversified Financial Services business.

During the past twenty five years, Rick has conducted hundreds of senior executive searches. He personally conducts Board Member, Chairman, President and Principal Officer searches while directly participating in all C level assignments conducted by the firm. Recently completed searches include CEO, CLO, CCO, CRO, and CHRO assignments.

Rick is often called upon by client Boards and Principal executives to assist with Organization and Staffing initiatives. His broad experience as a senior corporate executive combine with his leadership search & company ownership experiences to give Rick a unique foundation and perspective. He has directed multiple Board driven CEO selection processes, leadership assessment and development activities, and a wide variety of recruiting projects including Enterprise Risk, PMO, National Accounts, Partnership Marketing, and Total Quality team recruiting.

Rick is recognized as a pioneer in the recruitment and development of Diverse and Women leaders. He has received corporate and client recognition for the hiring and development of diverse, developmentally challenged, and veteran populations. Rick has personally identified and recruited key African American leaders throughout his corporate and consulting careers. The Darlington companies have demonstrated records of success placing diverse and women executives in senior leadership roles and have earned the trust and respect of many groups.

As a corporate officer and executive committee member, Rick held the positions of Senior Vice President of Operations, Customer Service, and Human Resources for a major service corporation, and Vice President Human Resources at a money center bank. Earlier corporate positions included Director of M & A and Executive Assistant to the Chairman for a major retail company. Rick has had direct responsibility for operations, security, transportation and distribution, customer service, total quality, senior leadership development, global employment, and managing diversity.

Rick holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Missouri. In addition, he holds a Masters of Business Administration from Michigan State University and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of M.S.U. Rick is a graduate of the Crosby Quality College Executive Program and has studied total quality and organization development in Canada and Japan. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

Linda M. Brown

Linda Brown is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Darlington & Company, Inc. She directs all firm operations and leads the firm's research and recruiting activities.

With 20 years experience in retained executive search, Linda began her search career managing searches across all industry sectors, later focusing on insurance, wealth management and banking. During the past decade, she has conducted and directed hundreds of searches for the firm. Linda has built a strong expertise in identifying talent that is successful in a global work environment and clients depend on her sound business judgment. She personally conducts senior leader recruiting while providing oversight of research operations and administrative staff. Her team of recruiting and research associates conducts searches with a structured, focused, client-centric model.

Prior to joining Darlington & Company, Linda was a lead search consultant with a Milwaukee-based boutique retained search firm, where she was well respected for her ability to identify and connect with the best candidate for each search assignment.

Linda's corporate experience includes key executive roles in the Professional Services and Life Sciences industries. She has held strategy, operations, business development, and human resources/administration roles and has total profit and loss experience.

A native of Wisconsin, Linda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Linda is a member of the National Association of Female Executives and The Art Institute of Chicago. Linda has been a successful fundraiser for Special Needs programs including Special Olympics, Wisconsin & Illinois. Her interests include theater, painting, tennis and sports.