Atlanta-based Aaron's Inc. has put its money down on Robert Kamerschen, naming him the lease-to-own retailer's new general counsel. His responsibilities will include managing all aspects of the company's legal and compliance work, including regulatory matters, intellectual property, litigation, vendor relationships, financings and acquisitions.
Kamerschen replaces Elizabeth Gibbs, who left Aaron's at the end of last year.
Aaron's currently has more than 2,085 stores throughout the United States and parts of Canada, offering furniture, electronics, appliances and home accessories.
Kamerschen moves to Aaron's from Equifax Inc., where he served as U.S. chief counsel, senior vice president and chief compliance officer. From 2008 to 2013, he managed the Atlanta-based credit reporting agency's U.S. legal function, compliance and government relations. Prior to that he spent six years as vice president of law and public policy at information services provider ChoicePoint Inc.
His in-house positions have prepared him well for the compliance component of his newest role, Kamerschen says. "In the environment we're in now, 'we' being all American businesses, there is a lot of scrutiny from regulators who are looking at business practices of all sorts—from how you do marketing to how you guard consumer data," he says. "All of that focus from a regulatory standpoint is right at the core of what I was doing at ChoicePoint and Equifax. Information services companies have always been under that spotlight."
The new GC will report to Aaron's CEO Ronald Allen, who joined the company in 2011 and formally took the reins last year. Kamerschen anticipates that the former Delta Air Lines Inc. chief executive will get behind his own efforts to make Aaron's a better-run company. "I think any general counsel will tell you that having the support of your CEO is one of the most important factors," he says.
Kamerschen, who will lead a seven-member legal department at Aaron's, has a history of team leadership. Before he went to law school, he spent a season pitching for a minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Kamerschen recalls his stint as an amazing time, despite its being a "struggling apprenticeship where you get paid nothing, travel on buses for 10 hours at a time, play every day," and have little chance of making it to the majors.
Pitching-arm problems cut Kamerschen's pro baseball career short, but he later got to do legal work for Major League Baseball franchise the Atlanta Braves. The team was a client of Troutman Sanders, where he began his legal career.
Kamerschen grew up around the Athens campus of the University of Georgia, where his father has taught economics since the early 1970s. "My high school was literally in the middle of the campus," says the GC. He earned his bachelor's degree from Stanford, but returned to UGA for law school, graduating in 1994.