Maggie Drozd – Apex Tool Group LLC

ATG legal leader helps tool company through turmoil

When Maggie Drozd joined Apex Tool Group LLC in January 2018, she reunited with Dave Sturgess, the senior vice president, general counsel and secretary whom she’d worked with several years before.

She was also delighted, she says, to immerse in the operations of the global tool manufacturing company by helping manage its legal affairs.

Be careful what you ask for.

Maggie Drozd | Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | Apex Tool Group LLC

Maggie Drozd | Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | Apex Tool Group LLC

Drozd, the vice president, deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer, arrived just in time to help ATG work through tariff increases affecting the tools it makes and imports from China. The tariff issues were followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain problems that have required a deft approach to ensure ATG’s tools make it to customers.

While keeping employees safe and customers supplied, Drozd has also built the compliance department to meet global requirements to protect data and information.

“I love working in-house because you’re involved in all pieces of the company,” Drozd says. “At a law firm, you can’t be involved in all stages of a project with business groups. At ATG, I’m excited about the next couple of years and being part of executing the strategic plan.”

Tariffs and a pandemic

Apex Tool Group formed in 2010 as a joint venture between Cooper Industries and Danaher and was acquired by Bain Capital three years later. Headquartered north of Baltimore, the company has about 6,500 associates in more than 30 countries and 20 production plants operating on five continents.

ATG’s brands include GEARWRENCH, Crescent, SATA, Weller, Cleco and APEX power tools. Its customers include professional tradespeople, auto and aviation companies, as well as do-it-yourselfers. Drozd says the company was restructured and recapitalized to reduce its debt in early 2022. She assisted the finance team in all aspects of the refinancing and recapitalization.

The tariff increases of 15 percent on tools were part of an array of increases on Chinese products that came into effect Sept. 1, 2018. The increase was followed by a second 15 percent increase on Dec. 1, 2018. The increases affected tools already in transit to the U.S. as well as those that hadn’t shipped, and Drozd collaborated with ATG’s customs group, which had become part of the legal department, to ensure compliance.

Maggie Drozd | Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | Apex Tool Group LLC

Some tariffs were rolled back in January 2020. By then, Drozd had worked with additional business units, including those involved in hand tools and procurement, to diversify the manufacturing sites. By shifting some operations to outside of China, ATG saved millions of dollars in tariffs in 2020 and 2021, she says.

She also ensured ATG was considered an essential company that could remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, working with the business units and the company’s Asia Pacific regional counsel in Shanghai. The effort included creating information packets developed with HR and operations directors demonstrating how ATG was essential—for instance, the company makes a piece used in ventilators.

Though the ATG employees who could work remotely did so, the manufacturing plants in the U.S. and around the world stayed open. Drozd worked with leaders from other business units to create the policies and procedures needed to ensure safety, which included getting thermometers and sanitary and personal protective equipment.

Getting to market—safely

With the issues of staying open addressed, ATG then needed to address the supply chain crunch so many companies are facing. Drozd says mitigating the crunch has required collaborating with operations and procurement leaders to update contracts, as well as working with suppliers to resolve issues outside of court.

Cybersecurity and protecting company and vendor information has required Drozd to set up a new compliance program, too. Her efforts began shortly after joining ATG as the European Union began enforcing its General Data Protection Regulations.

Maggie Drozd | Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | Apex Tool Group LLC

Working with company IT staff, she’s developed training policies and procedures for the company and its vendors. The company has a cybersecurity team to investigate threats and Drozd plans to work with IT and the operations team to improve disaster response and business continuity plans this year.

Drozd and her team have also worked throughout Asia with procurement teams to create a supplier code of conduct and in-person auditing programs to ensure local privacy and other laws and policies are met.

In-house opportunities

Drozd’s bachelor degree in political science and government from the University of South Carolina would seem to indicate she’d planned a law career from the start. So too would her experiences on high school and college debate teams.

However, the native of Canton, Ohio, says she had planned to become a social worker. After graduating South Carolina, she worked at the American Lung Association for a couple of years before enrolling at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill.

Drozd earned her J.D. in 2008 and joined Baker and Hostetler LLP as an associate after graduating. In 2011, she joined King & Spalding as an associate as part of its private equity practice. In July 2014, Drozd moved in-house as associate general counsel for the Affinia Group, manufacturers and distributors of auto equipment. Before joining ATG in January 2018, Drozd served as vice president and associate counsel for LPL Financial.

Maggie Drozd | Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | Apex Tool Group LLC

Jay Grubb Photography

A mother of two, Drozd says raising her family takes up much of her free time, but she also enjoys reading and traveling when she can.

“I love learning about the business and being part of developing strategy and policies,” Drozd says. “But tariffs and supply chain are still an issue. We’re at an exciting point with restructuring and recapitalization and we’re going to double down on plans because we can still execute them better.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring III 2022 Edition here.

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