Smart Counsel

When PetSmart was looking for its first-ever general counsel in 1999, Scott Crozier had more than just the legal acumen and business savvy for the job--he had the added advantage of being a born animal lover. Crozier grew up on two acres of land in Grand Junction, Colo., where his family raised a menagerie of dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and ducks. This upbringing made Crozier feel right at home at PetSmart's Phoenix headquarters, where employees' pets roam the premises.

Crozier's career took an interesting path to thatperfect job--he spent time in the Air Force, tracked fraudulent gem dealers, founded a consultancy and did environmental compliance work for a mining company before landing at PetSmart.

Following a two-and-a-half year stint in the Air Force Academy, Crozier set his sights on becoming a lawyer. After graduating from Arizona State University's law school in 1978, he found a job with the Securities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission where he served as a special assistant attorney general with the state AG's office. There he worked on the "Diamond Task Force," a team responsible for ending a widespread investment scam involving mail-order gems. This experience helped him land an in-house position in 1987 as the general counsel of global mining giant Phelps Dodge Corp. There he was responsible for building a legal group to handle the company's significant environmental compliance issues--including environmental remediation on several mining sites in the Southwest.

Looking for a change of pace and hoping to spend more time with his family, Crozier started his own company, Westpac Consultants, in 1997. As an owner of that real estate and environmental consulting firm, he continued to work with Phelps Dodge on its environmental problems.

However, just as Crozier was settling down, PetSmart, the nation's largest retailer of pet food and supplies, asked him to help establish the company's first in-house legal team. It was an opportunity that Crozier couldn't resist.

Q. In the late 1970s, you were part of Arizona's "Diamond Task Force." Tell me about that experience.

A. There were fraudulent call centers in Arizona offering people the opportunity to invest in gemstones, and they guaranteed that the value of those investments would grow. That wasn't the case, so the state hired lawyers and CPAs to try to track the money and help put an end to those schemes. It was the first time the securities division hired professionals to go after that type of activity.

Q. What did you do after the diamond ?? 1/2 hunting gig?

A. I worked for a company called Talley Industries, which owned General Time Corp., the maker of the famous Seth Thomas Clocks. [Seth Thomas most notably crafted the clock in New York's Grand Central Terminal.]

Q. What did you do for them?

A. The clock-making process created some environmental challenges that I was brought in to handle from a legal and regulatory perspective as well as doing IP and general corporate work.

Q. How did you parlay that experience into your position at Phelps Dodge?

A. PD hired me as senior counsel and head of the environmental group to address some of the environmental problems at their mining sites. Also, my father was chief chemist at Newmont Mining Corp. and so it was fun for me to go work in the same industry.

Q. Why didn't you follow in his footsteps and become a chemist?

A. I was actually headed that way. One of my majors in college was aeronautical engineering, but eventually I got somewhat bored with it.

Q. Why did you leave Phelps Dodge?

A. I wanted to spend more time with my family while they still wanted to spend time with me. So a partner and I created Westpac Consultants, which gave me the opportunity to have my own business. As it turned out I continued to do a lot of environmental compliance work for Phelps Dodge.

Q. What skills did you take away from running your own company?

A. When you run a business, you really learn to value integrity. I've got a saying that I like to follow which is, "Do right and fear no man." That philosophy translated well into my position at PetSmart because that company values integrity very highly.

Q. Why did PetSmart decide it was time to hire a GC?

A. They reached a point where the amount of money they were spending on outside legal resources was starting to justify the move.

Q. How did you first hear about the PetSmart opening?

A. A colleague who did outside legal work for them called me and told me that PetSmart was thinking about internalizing its legal function and thought I'd be a good person to be the first general counsel. It sounded like an interesting opportunity, so I let him put my name in as a candidate.

Q. Was it an easy decision to come

on board?

A. PetSmart really has a focus on family--and not only the four-legged kind. The culture here was very conducive to what I was looking for. And the position was attractive because the company was growing and seemed to have

unlimited potential.

Q. What legal issues did you face when you first came on board?

A. We had expanded into the U.K. and owned about 95 stores there. Shortly after I came on board the company refocused on growing its U.S. business. So one of the first things I worked on was the divestiture of the U.K. stores. We concluded that by the end of 1999.

Q. What takes up the bulk of your time?

A. A lot of what we do is working out ways to optimize our relationships with vendors. We are also responsible for negotiating leases. PetSmart opens between 90 and 100 new stores a year.

Q. Is this challenging?

A. It's getting easier now that we've internalized most of the work. We have gone from a situation where the legal department consisted of myself and one other attorney to now having 38 people in the legal department.

Q. Tell me about PetsHotels.

A. PetsHotels are alternative day and overnight boarding centers for cats and dogs where the pets get 24-hour care and supervision. It's an exciting idea that's catching on. By the end of the year we are going to end up with about 62 PetsHotels across the U.S.

Q. What is your role in getting the hotels up and running?

A. The legal department negotiates leases for appropriate locations and secures zoning for the hotels. We also work on educating landlords, developers and local zoning commissions about what the PetsHotels are.

Q. What is the strangest thing that has happened to you on the job?

A. It was the Rosanne Rosanna Danna complaint. We received a letter from a customer who was complaining about an adoption agency in one of our stores. She said we weren't taking care of the animals, the dogs hadn't been vaccinated and the adoption people weren't helpful. We contacted her and told her how concerned we were about the information and she told us, "Well I didn't really observe this in your store, I saw it when I went into one of your competitor's stores where the same adoption agency was set up."

Q. Are you allowed to bring pets into

the office?

A. On Fridays we can bring our pets in. But some are here on a full-time basis.

Q. How many pets do you own?

A. We've got two dogs, Lightning and Ruby. We also have a gecko; four parakeets; a parrot; four rabbits and some fish. We also have 16 chickens and one guinea hen. We recently built what some people might call a chicken coop, but what I refer to as a chicken palace, in our backyard.

Q. Do you consider working at PetSmart to be your dream job?

A. I've always considered each job I've had to be my dream job. So I would have to say absolutely.

Staff Writer

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