Raul Tellez – Luminex Home Decor & Fragrance

Tellez’s triple roles help candlemakers burn brightly

“Burning the candle at both ends” is an old saw used to describe someone who’s intensely busy with their careers or in their personal lives.

Were it possible, Raul Tellez would be burning the candle at three ends and doing so for one of the oldest candlemakers in the U.S.

Serving as the chief legal officer for Luminex Home Decor & Fragrance and its subsidiary companies, Candle-lite Co. and PartyLite Gifts, would be challenging enough as he manages legal matters for operations in the U.S. and globally.

Raul Tellez | Chief Legal Officer and Vice President of IT and HR | Luminex Home Decor & Fragrance

Raul Tellez | Chief Legal Officer and Vice President of IT and HR | Luminex Home Decor & Fragrance

However, since the spring, Tellez has also led the company’s IT and HR areas, roles that have enabled him to help consolidate and update operations in those areas with the help of two experienced and skilled teams.

“I want people to understand there are transferable skillsets,” Tellez says. “Being licensed to practice doesn’t mean you can’t do other things within an organization if you wish to.”

A history of wax and wicks

Luminex, Candle-lite Co. and PartyLite are rooted in the tradition of one of the oldest and continuous candle-making companies in the U.S.—the Emery Lard Oil and Candle Co., which was founded in Cincinnati in 1840 by English émigré Thomas J. Emery.

In 1952, the Emery family sold its candle segment and the new company was renamed Candle-lite as operations moved to a new manufacturing facility outside Cincinnati in Leesburg, Ohio. That’s where candles for both companies continue to be made. In 2016, the company and PartyLite merged to form Luminex.

There are some differences in the operations. Candle-lite makes its own brands of decorative candles and the Essential Elements and CLCo brands, and it supplies Walmart’s Mainstays and Better Homes & Gardens brands.

Scented PartyLite candles were typically sold in Europe in multilevel marketing efforts of the type used by Avon or Tupperware. Tellez says the approach has changed to more global e-commerce over the past several years, particularly in the US and Canada.

As the chief legal officer, Tellez manages legal affairs for both companies, including contract management, handling corporate documentation and financial transactions and any litigation such as product liability, commercial transactions or employment matters that arise.

In taking on the new and dual roles, he was not entering completely new areas for him. For instance, while in private practice, he worked extensively in labor and employment law, and during his almost four years at Nortel, he was the telecom’s chief privacy officer.

Nor does Tellez consider himself the expert in either department he’s begun leading.

“We have very good HR and IT departments and managers in the U.S. and Europe who can take on high-level tasks,” he says. “I can bring disparate groups together, and I have sufficient knowledge about these areas to connect team members who might not otherwise communicate with each other.”

Combining companies

Ongoing HR initiatives Tellez is leading include updating and improving the onboarding process for new employees, including using more software applications to submit and manage documentation. Tellez says he and the HR team are also working on updating payroll systems for global operations and recently implemented a new bonus plan for eligible employees.

Though Luminex production employees need to work onsite, Tellez says the company has been able to expand its hiring base for some back-office roles to include remote workers.

He’s also been tasked with combining the IT staff and their operations for Candle-lite and PartyLite, which had worked independently since the companies merged.

In May, the IT teams were restructured to involve members for both companies, and Tellez has been leading efforts to implement a new shared demand planning and forecasting application for Candle-lite and PartyLite production capabilities. Tellez says the new production planning software will help ensure a smoother supply chain, as will planned upgrades to the unified enterprise resource planning system.

He and the team are also adding a new company intranet that allows employees to easily access basic information and get updates within the company.

Combining the elements

Tellez, who grew up in Washington, D.C., and then Louisville, Kentucky, credits former President Richard Nixon as an inspiration for his legal career—for nonpolitical reasons.

While a boy, he says he was watching Nixon on TV and asked his mother what he needed to do to become president. His mother advised him that many presidents were lawyers before serving in public office.

Tellez was also interested in technology and was initially a computer science major at the University of Louisville. However, he didn’t enjoy the required engineering courses and shifted to studying history and political science. After earning his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1988, he enrolled in the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Tellez earned his J.D. in 1991 and spent a decade in private practice as a litigator while managing law office operations. In September 2003, he took on an in-house role as vice president and associate general counsel with GE IT Solutions.

Following that, Tellez was a divisional assistant vice president and senior corporate counsel at Great American Insurance from June 2005 to March 2008, then joined Nortel as director of compliance and security and chief privacy officer. He has also served as director of corporate contracts for Intelligrated Systems LLC and as vice president of legal for Pro Mach before joining Luminex in September 2018.

“My role isn’t easy, and it’s not for everyone, but I like controlling my destiny. I need challenges in different areas, or I get bored,” Tellez says. “It’s not a short, easy road. You must put in the time and effort and learn the skillsets while presenting yourself to the business leaders. It combines elements of what I’m doing right now.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Winter I 2024 Edition here.

Published on: November 22, 2023



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