President's Update: March 2015
President, ICBA Board of Directors
With all that is happening at ICBA, it is difficult to decide where to begin my first “Update” as ICBA President. Our 2015 Retail Conference, in my opinion, was our best ever. Every educational session was outstanding, vendor meetings seemed active and productive, and the energy from owner networking, as always, was amazing. Based on my short visit to Atlanta, the positive buzz carried right into CAMEX. But now, the attention is on change -- change on an unprecedented level.
ICBA Headquarters Relocation
Ever since the WCBA expanded its vision and became the Independent College Bookstore Association, each successive Board of Directors has discussed moving the organization from Ashland, OR, to a “hub city” that would make ICBA more accessible to its growing member base and the participating vendor community. In 2013, the Board made the commitment to relocate the offices when Stacy Waymire chose to step down as Executive Director.
As you all know, Stacy made that decision last year, and after a wide and vigorous search, Fred Weber was named CEO of ICBA. Since Fred is a native Chicagoan, and the Windy City, in many ways, is the center of our market, ICBA will be relocating to Chicago this summer. As a transportation hub, Chicago will make it easy for the Board of Directors, our members at large, and both current and prospective vendor partners to visit, meet, and exchange ideas about how ICBA can help lead the way for independent college stores.
In a related move, and with full Board participation and support, Fred made the decision that all full-time ICBA staff must work from the ICBA office. Given the size of the organization and the need for frequent communication and maximum innovation, it seems right that the ICBA staff work side-by-side every day. I think we all have had the experience of an informal, unscheduled, spontaneous conversation leading to a solution that might otherwise not have been proposed. This is a policy that several large companies have recently made, and one that, I believe, will benefit ICBA in the long run. Our expectation is that the ICBA Chicago office will be fully up and running by August 1, 2015.
ICBA Staff Reorganization
In addition to providing the occasion for ICBA’s relocation, Stacy’s decision to reduce his time commitment to the organization also prompted a review of the ICBA staff structure. With the pace of industry change only accelerating, the Board instructed the Transition Team to conduct the CEO search with a focus on strategy and leadership development. Reflecting this priority, the new staff position, Chief Operating Officer, was created to bring more of these skills to the executive level of the organization.
It was our good fortune that during the search process, the Transition Team was introduced to Jon Bibo. Co-founder of Bibo-Walsh Retail Consulting Services, Jon has over 25 years experience in the college store industry, including 6 years with the Case Western Reserve Bookstore, 15 years as VP of Sales and Marketing at NACSCORP, and 6 years as VP of General Merchandise for Follett Higher Education Group. Jon has accepted the new position of ICBA COO, and has hit the ground running since his March 1st start date. While Jon’s focus will be primarily on program development and strategic planning, he has been working closely with Marty Duncan to ensure that our vendor partners stay informed and connected.
As with many changes, however, there can be undesired consequences. In our case, both Marty Duncan and Skye Carlson have chosen not to follow ICBA to Chicago, and over the summer, they will be transitioning out of their respective positions. Together, Marty and Skye have given 20 years of dedicated and loyal service to ICBA, helping us to become the preeminent organization representing independent college stores. Marty and Skye have been the face of ICBA to many members and vendors. They have worked tirelessly to help ICBA programs set the standards of excellence in our industry. They will leave an important and valuable legacy to the future of ICBA.
Marty and Skye are both committed to the successful relocation of ICBA to Chicago and the smooth transition to a new team. They already have been working on plans to bring their successors on board and to use existing programs as platforms for delivering more value to all ICBA stakeholders. Just as our past success has depended on their efforts, so, too, will our ability to manage these important changes as we move forward in this great industry.
Some Things Will Not Change
Although ICBA will have a new home and a new staff, the important things that have set us apart will not change. As Board members, Ambassadors, and members old and new understand, ICBA’s commitment to innovation, willingness to step out and lead, and the passion of our members for both the industry and our organization have been the foundation of our success. Although our offices will be in Chicago, and there will be a few new names on the staff roster, the ICBA mission and values will remain rock solid. It is our intention not tochange the ICBA culture, but to leverage it for the benefit of our owners, our vendor partners, and the independent store channel.
Moreover, because the challenges we face are great and our resources are limited, we are committed to collaborating with other like-minded organizations. A small ICBA delegation will join teams from Indico, NACS, CCRA, and CRA, in early May, to prioritize our opportunities, and when possible, combine our resources to maximize the impact that we can have on the industry. These are challenging times, but there are opportunities for independent stores to make a difference in the lives of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other customers of our stores. It is our intention to realize these opportunities, and in the process, to build the strength, reputation, and influence of the ICBA. I will do my best to keep you updated on our progress on all fronts with periodic “Messages.” Please stay tuned.