Friday, October 17, 2014

Fred Weber Named Executive Director of Independent College Bookstore Association

October 17, 2014 – Fred Weber, one of the foremost and respected collegiate retail leaders, has been named Executive Director of the Independent College Bookstore Association effective January 1, 2015.

Since its inception in 1927, Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) continues to be the only professional business cooperative dedicated exclusively to institutional stores. Annual sales of ICBA stores vary from $1 million to over $50 million, with an average annual sales of $10 million, and total sales of over $1.4 billion.
Weber has held a number of executive positions at the Follett Higher Education Group, including Senior Vice President Wholesale and Distribution Services, Senior Vice President Strategic Planning and Communications, and Vice President Sales and Marketing. In his new role, Weber is responsible for leadership and administration of ICBA in unison with the ICBA Board of Directors.
Weber holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Masters of Business Administration. He currently teaches undergraduate and graduate classes at De Paul University in the Driehaus College of Business.
“Fred is a high energy, forward-thinking executive, with an impressive performance record,” said ICBA President David Kent. “We look forward to his dynamic leadership at a historic time in both the history of ICBA and of the independent college store channel. Fred brings the innovative spirit that aligns precisely with ICBA’s culture and strategic vision.”
“It is with great enthusiasm that I assume the Executive Directorship at ICBA, the most highly respected and productive organization in the industry,” said Weber. “I look forward to delivering new value to the owners, new opportunities to vendors, and continuing strong collaborative initiatives with ICBA’s strategic partners.”

Thursday, July 10, 2014

"It used to be that companies were built to last. Now they are built to change.”
– Lori Mitchell-Keller, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Retail for SAP

Executive Director Update 

Greetings ICBA!

ICBA is designed to be a nimble organization driven by change, improvement, and innovation. Beginning in the spring of 2013 the Executive Committee of the ICBA Board and I began a process of establishing a structure that will support the ICBA of the future. During their July 2013 strategic retreat, the Board of Directors dedicated their time to evaluating all aspects of ICBA including governance, committee operations, the role of the Executive Director and staff, our member market, our use of technology, and existing and future programs and services. Among new initiatives has been a major reorganization of ICBA staff. Our most valuable resource is our people, so it is with excitement and enthusiasm that I now share with you recent changes to ICBA staff. 

Marty Duncan
Director of Member Services

Marty is our new Director of Member Services. Marty has been with ICBA for over twelve years as our Program Manager. During his tenure he has been instrumental in growing the breadth, depth and value of ICBA merchandise buying programs and management services. Marty has also played a key role in the launch and growth of ICBA PRIMEtime and Business Encounter, making them must-attend events for directors, buyers, and vendors.
As Director of Member Services Marty works closely with the Executive Director in the development and implementation of strategies for collaborative partnerships with other industry organizations. He assists in building the future value of ICBA by identifying markets, brands and products, negotiating and closing deals with vendor partners across all stages of development of merchandise and service programs. Marty will continue to direct the marketing, sales and execution of PRIMEtime, PowerHall, D&H Pavilion, Business Encounter and other vendor activities at the annual Conference and online. Marty also participates directly in the execution of membership recruitment and retention campaigns.

Skye Carlson
Media and Communications Manager

Skye is our new Media and Communications Manager. Skye has been with ICBA for over five years and pioneered ICBA’s use of social media and electronic marketing software, and has been key in the success of our ICBA Presents webinars, and our on-demand video channels.
As Media and Communications Manager Skye is responsible for the management of ICBA’s communications platforms including website, social media, blogs, email, list serves, print, webinars, video, events, and delivery of online education. She assists in the development and implementation of creative content and engagement strategies. Skye monitors communications trends and feedback to develop insights for how ICBA can engage with our members, vendors, college store industry and the higher education community. Skye also participates directly in the execution of membership recruitment and retention campaigns.

In terms of the ICBA Conference, Skye manages the Conference app, oversees speaker relations, manages on-site video recording of presentations, supervises ICBA’s twenty on-site customer service representatives, and manages the hotel room block.

Charlie McChesney
Business Coordinator

Charlie is our new Business Coordinator. Charlie has been with ICBA for over seven years most recently as our Administrative Coordinator. As ICBA’s business management processes have grown, so have Charlie’s responsibilities. As Business Coordinator Charlie is responsible for ICBA accounting, including accounts payable and receivable processing, and payroll management. She coordinates the ICBA membership database, vendor sales reporting, and store savings reporting. She works closely with our accounting firm Moss Adams, and Payroll Specialties, Inc. In addition, Charlie is responsible for the design of ICBA’s online Conference registration site and software, and supervises on-site registration and customer service at our conference. She also coordinates staff surveying projects. Charlie participates directly in the execution of membership recruitment and retention campaigns.

It is my pleasure to continue to work with Marty, Skye, and Charlie, or as we refer to ourselves, Team ICBA. We look forward to serving you.

Stacy Waymire
ICBA Executive Director

Friday, May 16, 2014

ICBA President’s Update: May 2014
David Kent, President ICBA Board of Directors

ICBA and indiCo Commit to Collaboration                                      

In my January Update I shared with you the ongoing discussions between ICBA and indiCo toward establishing a collaborative relationship to advance the independent college store channel. Today I am happy to tell you that we have reached agreements with indiCo to collaborate on several significant actions.

Last week the Executive Committee of the ICBA Board of Directors, the Campus eBookstore Board of Directors, and the indiCo Board of Directors met for two days in Denver. Our number one focus was the future of independent college stores in the digital course materials market. Following that we addressed a number of other strategic issues. At that meeting agreement was reached for collaborative actions on the following:

Campus eBookstore
Elevating and escalating industry development
A Joint indiCo, Campus eBookstore, and ICBA Announcement
The indiCo LLC Board of Directors has unanimously approved a resolution to endorse Campus eBookstore Inc. as a premier, store-centered digital content delivery platform, and further advocates that independent college stores adopt the Campus eBookstore platform as a store solution for digital delivery of course materials. Campus eBookstore, Inc. (CEI) is owned and controlled by independent college stores, was designed and developed specifically to support independent college stores, and is managed by a set of unwavering principles that are centered on both the store and the higher education marketplace (see below). 

At industry-related meetings, and through survey responses, independent college stores cited the high priority need for a common and standardized platform for stores to directly sell publisher access codes and ebooks, along with the capability for an integral store role in supporting the course fee-based model for digital content delivery.   In addition, many stores are being asked to support the distribution of Open Educational Resources (OER) and other faculty-generated course materials.  The ability to support all of these functions is found within the CEI platform.

By some estimates, the digital “tipping point” for higher education course materials will occur within the next 36 months.   When this occurs, college stores will need to have fully transitioned their business practices and be in a position to support the sale and distribution of a wide range of course material format options.   “CEI is the only platform, presently, that has kept pace with the evolution of digital course materials” says Ed Schlichenmayer, President of indiCo LLC.  “Stores will be better positioned to serve faculty and student interests in the future, and can offer their institutions the technology capabilities needed to stay relevant with the ongoing advancement of course materials.”

Campus eBookstore was formed through an initiative of Canadian Campus Retail Associates (CCRA), which functions as a technology development incubator on behalf of the twenty-two universities that own CCRA. “The future of any one store is tied to the future of the channel as a whole,” says Chris Tabor, President of CCRA. “Our ability to succeed in the course material market is not about any individual store’s numbers. It is about the number of stores.”

In 2011, recognizing the capabilities of the CEI platform were important to independent stores in the United States, the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) invested in CEI and holds a minority ownership interest.  “The market has never been more dynamic, competition has never been more intense, and our future has never been more uncertain,” says David Kent, ICBA President. “These are times that require any organization that lays claim to represent the interest of independent college stores to innovate as we have never innovated before.” With its endorsement of CEI, indiCo is pledging to work collaboratively with both CEI and ICBA in the broader effort of strengthening independent college stores as a viable collegiate retail channel.  

Campus eBookstore, Inc. Principles
  1. The Platform will be licensed or made available by Campus eBookstore for use by independent college store retailers, and will be control by independent college store retailers, and will not be transferred to or controlled by software system vendors or integrators, publishers, book wholesalers, distributors or other vendors of books. 
  2. The Platform will support the capacity for inclusion and distribution of faculty-authored content as well as commercially-available materials.
  3. The business model rules and practices used in concert with the Platform will reflect the academic nature and timings of the collegiate retail marketplace.
  4. The business model rules used in concert with the Platform will support content sales and marketing practices that offer favourable or emphasized terms for university presses and other smaller publishers as defined by Campus eBookstore.
  5. The model used by Campus eBookstore for the use and distribution of the Platform will be scalable with the ability to enable digital distribution for the broadest range of college stores (as defined by sales volume and campus enrollments).

Centralized Channel Data
Building a credible voice for the independent college store channel
To develop a trustworthy voice in which administrators can believe, requires that we have the data, knowledge and insights that authenticate our positions. Toward that goal ICBA and indiCo will invest in commissioned research into retail technology standards, how digital content is being received and experienced by campus administrators, faculty and students, trends in campus decision-making regarding the institutional college store management model, and the collection and analysis of independent college store practices and financial performance.

Professional Development
Retail training for college store professionals
Building on the success of the ICBA Institute model, ICBA and indiCo will collaborate to provide both a rich curriculum and a format that delivers the skill sets necessary to succeed with new business models for individual store staff, and the store as a whole.

Building a Committed Buying and Sourcing Service
Functioning as a virtual chain
Using the ICBA Commit-Buy-Sell program as our foundation, ICBA and indiCo will collaborate to deliver a committed buying and sourcing service to independent college stores.

As you can see, we are intent on tackling the most significant issues of our channel head-on. We continue to be guided by the ICBA Promise:
  • Exclusive institutional store sharing
  • Unsurpassed buying programs
  • Industry-leading professional development
  • Decision-making voice & pride of ownership

I will be updating you as plans unfold.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

College Stores Receive Awards: Best Practices and Top Performers
Independent College Bookstore Association recognizes 2012 - 2013 Best Practices and Top Performers Awards among College Bookstores

ASHLAND, OREGON (April 1, 2014) – On Thursday, February 6, 2014, at the ICBA 2014 Retail Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, Pat McGowan from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, presented the 2012-2013 Best Practices and Top Performer Awards to seven Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) member stores.

“The ICBA operating survey is extremely valuable to our company. We use it to benchmark our results against peer stores and to see trends in our industry. It is another great benefit of being an ICBA member.” says Pat McGowan, Director of University Book Store at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Of the 78 stores that participated in the 2012-2013 Operating Survey, 42 stores were eligible to be recognized for their outstanding performance. Criteria for this year’s ICBA Best Practice and Top Performance Awards are:

  • ICBA Operating Survey participant in each of the last five years (42 stores in contention)
  • Achieved top performances or best practices demonstrating successful execution of business strategies from 2008 to 2013.
  • Award categories determined based on review of the 2012-2013 results (not pre-determined.
  • Emphasis on more challenging areas of the college store business.
  • Performance was influenced by internal leadership, strategy development and execution
The ICBA membership congratulates, recognizes and gives many thanks to the following stores for their outstanding performance and best practices. Each of these stores demonstrates exemplary leadership within the college retail industry by establishing and executing successful business strategies from 2008 and into 2013.

The MVP Award for Overall Outstanding Performance 
MSU Bookstore, Inc.
Montana State University

  • Increased overall sales by 20%
  • Increase net income by 278%
  • Improvement across all categories in margin generation
  • 50% increase in Net Worth over 5 years

Excellence in Course Materials Management
University Book Stores
University of Missouri

  • Increased overall sales by 17%
  • Custom Published total of $900,000
  • Rental totaling more than $3,000,000
  • Forefront of much of what is new in this area

Excellence in Course Materials Management
Wildcat Shop
Central Washington University
  • Increased overall sales by 14%
  • Very aggressive in price matching
  • Maintained margin in excess of 20%

Excellence in General Books Management 
Boise State University Bookstore
Boise State University
  • Increased general book sales by 17%
  • Increased inventory turnover 29%
  • One of few stores with an increase in this category

Excellence in Technology Product Management 
Olympic College Bookstore
Olympic College
  • Increased technology product sales by 255%
  • Gross margin sustained above 16% with large sales growth
  • Increased inventory turns to 5.7   

Excellence in Student Supplies Management
BYU-Idaho University Store
BYU Idaho
  • Increased student supply sales 26%
  • Inventory turnover consistently at 3.5 turns
  • Maintained margin close to 40%

Outstanding Insignia Product Performance
The University of Arizona BookStores
University of Arizona

  • Increased insignia product sales 55%
  • Inventory turnover increased 156% to 3.7 turns
  • Maintained margin in excess of 53%

To participate in the ICBA Operating Survey, stores must be an ICBA Member. To learn more about the Independent College Bookstore Association and the ICBA Operating Survey, please contact Sadja Pals, ICBA Marketing and Membership Manager, at or 800.618.0530.


Since its inception in 1927, Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) continues to be the only professional cooperative dedicated exclusively to institutional collegiate retail stores. ICBA provides the opportunity for owners and decision makers committed to putting their schools and students first and to openly and enthusiastically share operational improvements. ICBA does this by providing exceptional programs and services including buying programs, professional development and innovative solutions. 
The mission of ICBA is to provide the programs and services that will establish the institutional store model as the preferred management solution for higher education.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ray Britton, President, Comet School Supplies
Upon arriving in Dallas for CAMEX 2014, I excitedly went to visit Comet School Supplies, oneof ICBA’s long standing Vendor Partners. Comet’s facility is located in Palestine, TX, about 110 miles southeast of Dallas. While there I met with Ray Britton, President, and Don Howard, Vice President and toured their facility and learned about the history of Comet.

After a paper converting company was shuttered in 1986, Comet School Supplies was founded with the former employees of that converting company. About 2/3 of its business at the time was in the K-12 sector of the school supply business. Comet slowly increased in its involvement with the college bookstore supply channel, and today about 80% of their business is serving the collegiate bookstore market. 

Comet initially was a regional company, but when they were awarded the Blue Books category in the old WCBA bid process in 1989, they made the decision to become a national company.  Ray Britton stated that ICBA (formerly WCBA) was the entity that first invited them to "the national dance". And they've been loyal to ICBA ever since.

Comet was also the first in the industry to introduce Green Books, at the urging of Jim Williams, former General Manager at the University of Oregon Duck Store. Comet Green Books feature a 100% recycled cover with 10% PCW and inside page that are 100% recycled with 30% PCW.

Today Comet School Supplies employees 35 full-time employees dedicated to making it the best paper converter in the industry. They are an American company receiving raw materials from vendors throughout the United States and manufacturing their products in the Palestine, Texas plant.

New from Comet for 2014 include unruled journals from the new Impressions Collection, Creations Covers Lot 8 Bird Series (1-, 3- and 5-subject notebooks) and the Loadstar Series (1-, 2-, 3- and 5-subject notebooks). Comet is also known for their Lefty Notebooks, 100 count stiff-backed knee pads (both college and law ruled) and of course the Blue Books. For ICBA members, please log into your ICBA member profile at to view Comet's current buying program.

Thank you to Ray, Don and the entire Comet School Supplies team for a fantastic visit and for their continued support of the ICBA member stores!

Written by Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

ICBA President’s Update: January 2014 

David Kent, President ICBA Board of Directors

As we end one year and begin a new year I want to share with you some ICBA updates.

ICBA Collaborates with NACS indiCo
The action we took in 2013 that holds the greatest promise for 2014 is our collaboration with NACS indiCo. Ten months ago George Masforroll, NACS President and ICBA member, and Ed Schlichenmayer, indiCo President and COO, invited ICBA to collaborate in identifying and initiating actions in a joint venture to serve the interests of the independent college store channel. During the past year ICBA has invested significant resources into developing this venture. Up until now this has not been widely known outside of ICBA and NACS leadership. It is now my obligation as your President to share with you the strategic value ICBA assigns to this venture.  

Independent college stores as a channel are facing the most challenging time in the history of our industry. The market has never been more dynamic, competition has never been more intense, and our future has never been more uncertain. These are times that require any organization that lays claim to represent the interest of independent college stores to innovate as we have never innovated before.

At ICBA we believe that the independent college store channel must be fully functional with shared, foundational, support solutions. And we have very little time to reach a significant level of functionality with solutions that do not currently exist (although the potential does), and in collaborations that have never been tried before (yet offer so much to all the stakeholders). As a channel we must match our greatest competitors. It is time for us to risk more than others may think safe, and to expect more than others may think possible. Toward these goals ICBA aims for collaboration at the organizational level. We understand that with technology as our cornerstone we will be able to realize the networking capabilities of our stores as an organized channel. And that shared services is a critical element toward developing the resources needed to accomplish these goals.
Collaboration is not a new effort for ICBA. Our organization is built on store-to-store collaboration. In recent years ICBA has engaged in successful partnerships with other store and vendor organizations. We found the invitation from NACS indiCo to engage in collaborative ventures as not only right up our alley, but timely and compelling. Over the past ten months we have engaged in discussion and development at the highest levels of both organizations. In May the following people met to identify our joint strategic interests:
  • George Masforroll, NACS President, and Associate Vice President, Auxiliary Services, Broward College
  • Brian Cartier, NACS CEO
  • Ed Schlichenmayer, NACS Deputy CEO, and indiCo President and COO
  • Jeff Zeilenga, indiCo Board member, and Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of Missouri
  • David Kent, ICBA President, and Director Vol Shops, University of Tennessee
  • Arlyn Schaufler, ICBA Vice President, and General Manager The Duck Store, University of Oregon
  • Stacy Waymire, ICBA Executive Director
The overarching sense of urgency was reflected in this opening statement:
In order to survive, within two years, the independent college store channel must be functional with shared support solutions that:
  1. Improve the capabilities of all independent stores
  2. Advance the channel as a whole
  3. Enable the channel to compete more successfully 

Now is the time. This is the Place.

ICBA identifies the following strategies at the channel level:
  • Industry cloud services
    • Digital and custom content platform
    • Digital marketing applications
  • Centralized channel data
    • Research
    • Shared reporting platform
    • Technology standards
  • Training and professional development
  • Retail intelligence
  • Sourcing services
  • Marketing and promoting the independent college store management model
    • Independent college stores as a virtual brand
    • Establishing an industry voice

As our collaborative efforts with NACS indiCo continue ICBA is guided by our understanding that in times of market disruption, competitive advantage is typically based on as yet unknown factors. So capability and flexibility are the keys. At the same time action is paramount because unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes. ICBA is moving forward with these priorities, and it is our hope that NACS indiCo will continue as our collaborative partner. I will be updating you as plans unfold.   

ICBA 2014 New Orleans
Capturing our imaginations in the immediate future is the ICBA 2014 Retail Conference. For the third straight year in a row we have set new records for store and vendor registrations. The ICBA Conference in New Orleans will be our most well attended ever. It is worth noting that this will be our eighty-fourth annual meeting. ICBA was founded eighty-seven years ago but we did not hold meetings from 1943 to 1945 because of World War II. I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans for a dynamic business exchange, and to enjoy the supportive camaraderie of the independent store culture. For those of you not able to attend, ICBA will be capturing many of the sessions on video for on-demand viewing after the event.

Welcome New Members
Yet another record for ICBA is that in 2013 we had the largest influx of new members for any year. Over thirty-four new members join us as we head into 2014. ICBA’s strategic goals in terms of membership are focused on growing the value we deliver to our member stores. We have never striven to be the largest organization. Our goal is to be the most valuable organization. ICBA remains the only professional cooperative in the industry serving institutional stores exclusively.

I hope this new year brings prosperity to your enterprises, and joy to your life!