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Graybar taps Mazzarella to lead company

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Electrical products distributor Graybar Electric Co. has promoted a longtime employee, Kathleen Mazzarella, to chief executive and president, effective June 1.

Mazzarella's appointment at the Clayton-based company will make her the only female CEO of a Fortune 500 company headquartered in the St. Louis region. There are currently only 16 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies nationwide.

"Kathy is a natural choice," said Dirk Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, a Washington-based trade organization. "A lot of people who are great at strategy are lousy at executing strategy. She can do both."

Mazzarella, 51, has worked for the company for 31 years, beginning as a customer service representative in 1980.

After leading the company's human resources and sales and marketing efforts, a year ago Mazzarella was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer.

She'll succeed Robert Reynolds Jr. in overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company that has 240 distribution facilities in North America and 7,000 employees.

Reynolds, 62, who is Graybar's CEO, president and chairman, will become executive chairman next June.

Graybar, an employee-owned company, is No. 480 on the Fortune 500 ranking of the largest corporations in the U.S., with $4.6 billion in revenue in 2010.

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