i3 | October 17, 2019

2019 CT Hall of Fame: Henry Chiarelli

The Consumer Technology Hall of Fame honors visionaries who have made a significant impact on the consumer technology industry. These leaders and entrepreneurs have laid the foundation for the technologies, products, services and apps that are improving lives around the world.

Henry Chiarelli was inducted along with five other industry leaders at an awards dinner on Wednesday evening, November 6, at SIR Stage37 in New York City. In addition, for the first time, CTA also honored its Innovation Entrepreneur Award winners at the dinner. i3 magazine highlights this prestigious class. 

Henry Chiarelli, Industry Executive 

There are few executives who have led as many consumer technology companies to success, or have served the industry as diligently and frequently, as Henry Chiarelli. Over a four-decade-plus career, the ubiquitous Chiarelli served as an executive at the regional, domestic and global levels of several leading consumer technology, e-commerce and retail businesses responsible for thousands of employees and billions of dollars in revenues, and served as a chair, vice-chair or member on nearly 50 industry association boards, committees and standards working groups.

Born in Boston on April 7, 1954, the son of Christina, a bookkeeper, and Andrew, Chiarelli was primarily raised by his maternal grandmother in Braintree, MA. In 1970, the 16-year-old self-described "street kid" sought refuge from a drenching rainstorm in the local RadioShack. The store needed a stock clerk for the upcoming Christmas season, and Chiarelli needed a job. His experience in the back room of that RadioShack straightened the youngster out and laid the course for the rest of his life.

After high school, Chiarelli enrolled in a post graduate program for college graduates focused on computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Information Sciences, earning a computer science certification.

Chiarelli spent the decade after graduation in varying divisional, regional and national retail, operations, service, support and brand management executive positions at RadioShack and its Tandy corporate parent. These jobs took Chiarelli around the country and the world, honing his people, critical thinking and management skills.

In 1995, Chiarelli was named VP and GM for Tandy's new Incredible Universe megastore chain, whose 19 stores generated annual revenues of $1.2 billion. After leading the sale of Incredible Universe to Fry’s Electronics, Chiarelli moved to Tandy's Computer City retail chain in 1997 as SVP of merchandising and marketing, where he more than doubled inventory turns, increased margins 220 basis points and eventually led the sale of the company to CompUSA. 

After moving back to RadioShack corporate in 1998, Chiarelli was appointed president of the retailer's e-commerce site. Overcoming corporate fears of brick-and-mortar sales cannibalization, Chiarelli championed the project, helping negotiate a $100 million deal with Microsoft to become a partner in the new site. The following year, Chiarelli was one of a half dozen brick-and-mortar retail executives to testify before Congress, which was trying to decide on how sales tax would be collected by online retailers.

After 32 years with the company, Chiarelli left RadioShack in 2002 to become VP of merchandising for CompUSA, for which he opened 185 in-store home theater stores. In 2005, Chiarelli began the first of three stints at Gibson, where he was president of Gibson's audio group, in charge of a branded line of consumer electronics.

In 2002, Chiarelli decided to return to school. He "aced" his GMAT and was accepted at TCU, where he earned his MBA in 2004 becoming (at the time) the oldest graduate student in the Fort Worth school’s history.

The following year, Chiarelli joined David Lorsch (CT Hall of Fame 2016) to help manage DBL Distributing, eventually becoming president of the company after its sale to Ingram Micro, where it became the distributor's consumer electronics division. After leaving Ingram in 2009, Chiarelli opened his own firm, consulting for Gibson, Ingram Micro and other technology companies, then returned to Gibson full-time in 2012 as EVP of industry relations, in charge of Gibson Brands "Innovation and Advanced Development" activities within emerging technology sectors.

While serving in a variety of executive suites, Chiarelli also has served on dozens of boards, committees and standards working groups for industry groups including CTA, the Wi-Fi Alliance, Bluetooth SIG and the Avnu Alliance. Chiarelli lives with his wife, Linda, in The Village of Estero, FL.

Sept/Oct 2019 i3 Issue Cover

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