(AP) — The former president and CEO of an international consumer goods company that includes what once was the Dial Corp. has been named president of business and non-basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns.
Brad Casper was introduced at a news conference Monday by Suns owner Robert Sarver. He replaces Rick Welts, who resigned and last month was named president and CEO of the Golden State Warriors. From 2005 to October of last year, Casper was president and chief executive of Scottsdale, Ariz.,-based Henkel Consumer Goods Inc., a $1.7 billion company with more than 2,500 employees.
Among the first duties of the 51-year-old self-described "guy who peddles soap" is to clean up the Suns brand tarnished by a diminished product on the court and dwindling ticket sales.
"I really believe that this brand is already very strong," Casper said, " but over the last few years, I don't think we've lost our way, I just don't think it's as clear anymore as to what we stand for. I want to make sure that what we do stand for is the best entertainment sports value, not only in Arizona but certainly in the NBA." ''
Sarver also announced that general counsel Jason Rowley has been promoted to chief operating officer.
Casper's initial work will be hampered by not knowing when there will be a team on the court as the player lockout by the NBA drags on. Sarver said he was not allowed to talk about the labor situation but looked forward to doing so once the dispute was settled.
Following his resignation from Henkel, a departure he said was a mutual decision by him and the company, Casper said he was close to signing a lucrative deal with another company, but it would require a move to the East Coast. He said a conversation with his 17-year-old son led him to decide to look for a job that would allow him to stay in the Phoenix area, and the Suns opportunity developed only over the last few weeks.
"If you would have told me eight weeks ago I'd be sitting here, I'd have said no way," Casper said.
Casper, his wife and three children live in Paradise Valley, an upscale Phoenix suburb.
Sarver said a national search for Welts' replacement was launched but the most qualified candidate was found "right here in our own backyard."
"His expertise in organizational development, marketing and branding, coupled with his passion for the Suns, will be an enormous asset for our organization, our marketing partners, and our fans," Sarver said. "His dedicated involvement in the Arizona community exemplifies and extends our organization's commitment to the city and state."
Casper spent 16 years with Proctor and Gamble before taking over at the Henkel company, including stints in Japan and China.
Welts, the longtime Suns executive Casper replaces, made national headlines earlier this year when he became the first top executive in a major professional sport to acknowledge he was gay.
The moves mean that Sarver has his own appointees in all of the top management positions at the Suns. Lon Babby is the president for basketball operations and Lance Blanks the general manager.